En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Men: Some Thoughts on Facebook! Be Careful!

Posted by Scott on February 25, 2009

I was forwarded the below post one day and thought I would pass it along.  Men, we need to really pay attention to our time, especially if we have a wife, family, and/or ministry.  Our adversary, satan, would love nothing more than to use something like Facebook to get us off track and even destroy our very lives.  Read with an awareness that our time here is short…use what you have to the glory of God.

Slice of Laodicea

“An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this morning raises the issue of Facebook use among adults. Reportedly, some who observe Lent are giving up their Facebooking for the 40 days prior to Easter. Facebook addiction, and the snares and pitfalls of social networking sites are the larger issues that deserve some attention.

Not long ago, I was invited to try Facebook by a friend who enjoyed the ability to stay in touch with other like-minded believers. I signed on. I didn’t feel I was doing anything particularly hip and up-to-date. I didn’t even really know what Facebook was. The thought of having contact with other Christians on a more casual and friendly basis was attractive. The work I do is often so serious in nature that a lighter opportunity to interact seemed like a great idea.

Within hours, I was into the Facebook vortex. People began “friending” me, most of whom I did not know, but who knew of me only through the Crosstalk Show or Slice. After initially struggling for a week or more to figure out how the site worked, I got a second wave of “friends” who discovered me online: people I hadn’t seen since the day I graduated from high school, college Republican acquaintances, even a former fiance all showed up asking to be Facebook friends. That’s where things began to get interesting.

Facebook has something called a news feed which updates you on nearly everything your “friends” do on their pages. You can control this feed, something I did not initially realize, as photos, videos and status reports from strangers began coming through. One “friend”, a woman I had known briefly in high school shared photos of herself in a tattoo parlor. I’ll leave the description off there. One male friend from years ago, identifying now as an “anarchist”, began showing off his new beliefs by posting blasphemous statements on my Facebook page or “wall” as it is called. I quickly had to locate the “de-friend” button to remove these individuals, including another acquaintance from the past who decided to share drinking adventure stories.

Meanwhile, the lure of the news feed became clear. With the click of a mouse, you can end up in somebody else’s personal photo album, read the comments on their wall, find out what someone is doing through their “status updates” and so forth and so on. I now had a window into the personal lives of people I barely knew, or in some cases, did know. Somebody changed her profile photo to a glamor shot, hmmm, interesting. Friend X has posted photos of herself in evening attire! Oh look at that new photo. Hmmm, I don’t know if that outfit is all that attractive in that color…Hey, an old boyfriend is making suggestive comments on my married friend’s site. She’d better hit the “de-friend” button on that guy. I’ll bet her husband wouldn’t be pleased. Yikes!…And so it went.

Welcome to the world of Facebook. Yes, these social networking sites can be an asset in some ways. I found that I connected with a busy teen niece for the first time because of my Facebook presence. I got in contact with extended family members I hadn’t seen in years and exchanged family photos. But. At least speaking for myself, I found that the site was a minefield spiritually. I started out checking the site a couple of times a day. As my “friend” list grew, however, I found myself checking it multiple times a day. Can you say “time wasting?” I offended several “friends” by not answering their Facebook messages quickly enough. The drama had started. My email in box started getting hit with notifications that people had tagged me in photographs. I awoke one morning to find that a man I had known in high school had started scanning his yearbook and tagged me in an embarrassing photo that could be seen by all “friends” on my list. In short, the entire experience ended up being a return to adolescence. I pulled the plug and not a moment too soon.

My experience is certainly not everybody’s. Because of my presence on Christian radio and the Internet through Slice and my Hope blog, I did manage to attract a higher number of Facebook trolls and those with malicious intent, in addition to the usual mixed assortment of former friends, family, acquaintances, etc. Those who use a social networking site and who limit their “friend” list strictly to those they genuinely know and care about probably would have an easier experience. I did not know what “friend requests” to approve and who not to approve, and I didn’t want to offend someone who was genuinely friendly.

The primary problem I found was the voyeuristic behavior that the site encourages. What business is it of mine what photos somebody has in their personal albums online? With Facebook, however, whenever anybody adds a new photograph, you are sent a thumbnail of it and by clicking on it, you are taken directly into somebody’s personal life. That’s the whole point of the site!

While I am in NO way accusing all Facebookers of engaging in sin (some even use the site strictly for ministry purposes and I salute that!), I found that without care taken, the site can engender a host of sins like envy, gossip, judgmental thinking, exhibitionism, pride, boundary issues with the opposite gender, and above all, time wasting. The latter issue was the biggest issue for me. There are only so many minutes in a day. With the flesh’s natural resistance to prayer and Bible study, I couldn’t justify my interest in the lives of other people. If God isn’t receiving the worship, time and fellowship He deserves, how could I justify spending all the energy on a social networking site, even with fellow Christians?

Everyone has to come to their own conclusions on this. Technology affords so many opportunities now to communicate with others and the world that can be used for good. It also offers us many new snares and opportunities to sin. Whether a given technology is worth the struggle of fighting pitfalls is something each person must decide. Above all, we need to be ready to examine ourselves and honestly look at our motives and behavior in light of God’s Word. If we can’t control the temptation a technology brings, we need to do rapid surgery and get rid of it so that Satan does not gain a foothold in our lives. If we can use a technology for God’s glory with a clear conscience, we need to carry on and thank God for the opportunity.”

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