Will you be my Facebook friend? Part 4

In this series of posts I want to highlight two potentially dangerous appeals of Facebook. The first was the way that Facebook purports to allow me to recreate my world through my words to gain approval. The second potentially dangerous appeal of Facebook is this: On Facebook I can escape the limitations of my body.

Our bodies limit us to a particular place and time. We can only be in one place at a time.

But Facebook promises to connect us with everyone everywhere at anytime. It promises omniscience (knowing everything) and omnipresence (being everywhere). But it cannot deliver – not if you want real relationships and real community.

We have already said that the internet encourages us to skim read everything. “Internet users skim text rather than read it. In fact, ‘skimming’ is now the dominant metaphor for reading.”[1] Facebook extends the same idea into personal relationships. We now do skim befriending, surface friendships

Facebook offers intimacy without responsibility. People say things on Facebook to people or about people that they would never say if they were physically in the room with them.

People say things about people they would not say in the flesh. A church planter friend told me Facebook has caused havoc on his neighbourhood because of the way it spreads of gossip. Seventeen percent of employees in large companies have been reprimanded for words they have written on Facebook.

People say things to people they would not say in the flesh. A recent newspaper article highlighted one lawyer who has dealt with 30 divorce cases in the last year and Facebook has been implicated in them all.[2] Online flirting is leading to real world relational breakdown.

Proverbs 10:19 says: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Facebook does not cause sin, but it can accelerate it because it liberates it from the constraints of the body.

[1] Tim Challies, The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, Zondervan, Available here from amazon.co.uk.

[2] Richard Alleyne, “Facebook Increasingly Implicated in Divorce,” The Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/8274601/Facebook-increasingly-implicated-in-divorce.html.

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6 thoughts on “Will you be my Facebook friend? Part 4

  1. Tim, thanks for this series about Facebook. I have long been uneasy about it, and these posts have put words on that unease. I do not, in fact, have a personal Facebook page. Did have at one time, but stopped it and then deleted the account.

    Facebook has become a big thing even here in Mongolia. In a developing country and culture where people don’t have a strong concept of time, or how to manage it, its draw is particularly pernicious.

    Anybody wanting to delete their Facebook account permanently can follow this link: http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account

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  3. Tim, thank you for writing this! You have perfectly summarised why I gave facebook up for lent, and why I still find it uncomfortable now. I tried explaining to my friends how I felt people were different on facebook- they would say things to/about people that they would never say in “real life”. We paint this wonderful picture of ourselves, denying others access to our flaws as well, which is what makes us who we are. For me, I get sucked into the popularity contest, longing for people to comment and find my life interesting, when in reality my life is interesting enough! Also, I know that Jesus loves me and has placed me in a wonderful community, and that is all the popularity I’ll ever need.

    Thank you for your faith, words and wisdom


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