Friday, 13 May 2011

Redeeming FaceBook

Warning! I’ve hummed & haa-ed about posting this blog for a week for fear of sounding like a bore with a prudish overreaction. Please read this as my evolving thoughts/experience & I’d love to know what might ring true for you...

Here goes!

I like FB. I am one of the 600million account holders & use it almost every day. I am grateful to Mr Zuckerberg & Co for their invention which helps me to remember birthdays, connect with friends in faraway places, enjoy other people’s happy moments (engagements, passing exams, photos of children, etc), laugh at goofy videos & status updates whilst making failed attempts at humour with the “comments” function. I also partake in the odd games of Uno, Scrabble & FB stalking.

As a Christian, I find it a helpful & appropriate forum to receive & share thoughts, insights, encouragements & questions to help us on our spiritual journeys (indeed this is what I am attempting to do at the moment!)

However, I have some concerns. Mainly about myself & the impact that my relationship with FB can have on my character. I suspect I am not alone in this so let me share some thoughts & see what you think (please do post a comment).

Since acquiring a “smart” phone I have made the following observations...

Ø The amount of time I spend on FB each day has greatly increased.

Ø I often feel “disconnected” if I haven’t checked out what has been happening in my social media world (although it is rarely anything of significance).

Ø I sometimes find myself getting a little upset if people have not “liked” or “commented” on my status updates (especially in the ones where I try to be funny).

Ø Whilst I enjoy sharing ideas, comments & photographs with my friends, I sometimes find myself under a compulsion to share useless information (I’ve just examined previous status updates wondering, “why on earth did I need to share that?”).

Whilst I like FB & enjoy its many benefits, it has the potential to promote self-obsession (e.g. a recent application allows you to see how many people have looked at your account recently) and a compulsion to over-share (do we really need to know what you ate for breakfast, that you can’t sleep, how many times you have visited the toilet or what you’d change your name too if you were transgendered?)

Here are some questions I’ve been asking of myself recently, perhaps you might find them interesting too...

Ø How much time have I spent on FB today/this week? How does this compare with the amount of time I have invested in my spiritual formation (prayer, Bible study, serving others etc)?

Ø How would I react if I chose not to use FB for a week/month? If I wouldn’t even consider this or if I try & find it really difficult, what does this reveal about me?

Ø Do I ever use FB when I am in the company of other people? What message does this send out to the people I am with?

Ø Do I check FB last night at night & first thing in the morning? Why? Do I find myself using FB as 2min time filler between meetings or on the toilet? If so, is this the best use of my time?

To be honest I’ve found these questions quite challenging so here are a few action steps which I feel the Holy Spirit is leading me towards to ensure that my use of FB doesn’t hinder my spiritual development.

Ø Regularly “fast” from FB. Stop using it for a day, week, month.

Ø Don’t check your status or updates when you are in the presence of someone else.

Ø Instead of using FB as a “time filler” as I wait for someone to come to a meeting (or even on the loo!), use those few moments to notice the good things that God has given me that day.

Ø Take part in my FB Challenge (every time I log onto FB, say a quick prayer for first 3 people in my news feed).

So it’s your turn. What do you think about FB?

Ephesians 4:29... Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.


Anonymous said...

read your oomments and wanted to hit the like button.... does that mean facebook has infiltrated my life :) thank you... keep pushing our thinking and our life actions


Anonymous said...

Very interesting mate, I'll get you a copy of my dissertation and reading list from this lol. But on a serious note some very real questions you are asking that deserve to be grappled with individually I think. Keep er lit.

Paul B said...

well said!

Crystal said...

Hello. I ended up here by following a referrer link from my blog and really enjoyed this post.

It may be because I am studying identity right now, but I really think part of the addiction how seriously we take our digital identity.

We vigilantly watch to see how people will respond to our cute or genius comments. The sad part is, I sometimes feel like the nature, the volume, or the lack of response actually means something about me.

It's pretty pathetic when my day is affected because no one responded to a FB or Blog post - or when I feel really affirmed because someone hit the "like" button. Wow.

All that to say, I don't think its social media that's the problem.

Your question about time invested in other things is key.
"Where your treasure is..."