When I joined Facebook, my initial feeling was fascination. I was connecting with friends around the world in a way that was convenient and relatively secure. We regained contact with other friends whom we probably would never see again, due to distance or circumstances. As our friend list grew online, I felt as if my social consciousness was expanding as well. “Remember so-and-so from uni? They’re on Facebook too!”
We browsed profile pages, catching up on people’s careers, family situations, and personal interests. Their photos showed the progress of life: a new child, a new home, wrinkles, and so on. At first, I had wondered how many thirty-somethings would be into an online social network. Now it seems like everyone we know is there. We’re Friends again, thanks to Facebook.
I think many users are at the stage where they cannot imagine life without Facebook. I check it daily, like email. In a way, Facebook has superseded email. Remember when you used to email friends with photos and news? We still do that, but not as often now. Facebook is ubiquitous (until the next network!) and the idea of online social networking is now a way of life.
How should we then live on Facebook?
1. Just ten more minutes. Most people agree that Facebook can be a time waster, through playing trivial games (Farmville etc.) or mindless browsing through others’ pages. I don’t think this is much different from wasting time in other ways, such as excessive TV watching. But Facebook increases the shame of time wasting, by announcing to the world that you spent the evening accumulating useless scores or “achievements.” The point is not to hide your time wasting, but to keep asking yourself, “Am I really making the best use of the time God has given me?” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
As John Piper has observed, “TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem… The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV” (Don’t Waste Your Life).
The same can be said of Facebook. It can be a G-rated way to waste life.
2. Here’s my heart, everyone. Facebook is a platform for declaring your thoughts and feelings publicly. It’s so easy to type a status update about your tiredness, frustration, and aspirations. I think we sometimes express feelings to everyone on Facebook, when we would do better to pour our hearts out to God first. Yes, God hears us on Facebook, but there’s something more efficient than Facebook for communicating to God. It’s called prayer!
3. Edify, edify, edify. It’s great to receive an encouraging message or wall post from someone who cares about you. Why not take a minute to encourage a friend? A brief message that says “I’ve prayed for you today” will have far more eternal value than a link to a funny video. And along with encouragement:
4. More Bible, please. Sure, tell us about your plans for the day or a random observation. Everyone else is doing the same thing. But when you simply mention a Bible verse which has spoken to you, that is not trivia—it’s your testimony of God at work in your life.
See you on Facebook!