Q: What’s blue and white and gets checked 90 gazillion times a day?
Whenever I am online (which is often due to the fact that I am a seminary student and therefore find the need to procrastinate a lot), I check my Facebook. When I am out and about with my friends, I grab my iPhone and check my Facebook. Whenever I see something cool or hear a funny quote or notice something quirky, I snap a photo and upload, or I post a link, or I update my status. I’ve started thinking about pictures of myself in terms of whether or not they are profile picture worthy (you do it, too!). Honestly, I like Facebook. I like keeping up with my friends and sharing what I’m doing and posting links to things I think are important to know about. Like darling, little teacup piglets.
However, I do think we have to be careful with our Facebook usage. It can easily breed narcissism by fueling our society’s current obsession with the self. We’re constantly hearing that we’re special and unique and need to just “be ourselves,” and Facebook is just another outlet for the attitude that has taken over our culture. Through Facebook we can present the selves we want to be — our pages are often carefully tailored to show ourselves off as adventurous or cool or extra spiritual.
The second thing that has disturbed me about Facebook lately is the amount of people who post very strong opinions quite quickly and with very little knowledge. This past week I was overwhelmed with the amount of political posts I saw (I dread Facebook as the election draws nearer) and the amount of discussions about race (in relation to the Trayvon Martin killing) that were filled with vitriol and lots of conclusion jumping. Facebook is a medium for discussion, but it allows for people to find quick information (correct or not) and then spread it on without much thought. People spout opinions and rants and accusations about real people without giving it much thought. Much of this — whether it’s on Facebook or maybe in Boundless Line comments 😉 — probably has to do with the fact that we’re not talking with one another face-to-face. We say things online with words and tones that we would hopefully never use in real-life conversation. When we’re behind a computer screen it is easy to forget that we’re interacting with real people who also have opinions and personal experiences and feelings behind what they’re saying. Last week while perusing Facebook I thought often of James telling us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. I often see the exact opposite in online conversations.
Overall, I think Facebook has just added another medium to our lives that requires discernment. It is not a bad thing — it can be very fun and entertaining, and can even help us to stay connected with people. But I do think that we need to be wise with how we interact on Facebook. When I’m posting a picture or a status, I should probably think about the why behind it. When I’m getting into a discussion, I should make every effort to stay away from unwholesome talk and instead, build others up, just like I should attempt to do in face-to-face conversations. I should be quick to listen to others and slow to spout my opinions.
And, honestly, I should probably spend less time on Facebook. Yes, it can be fun, but it can also be a waste of time. Time I could be spending serving others and having conversations face-to-face. Maybe I should give it up for a week or a month and see if I could possibly survive without it. My guess would be, yes. Although my friends may suffer from the lack of pictures of tiny, cute pigs.