I love Facebook! I hate Facebook!
If you’re on Facebook, my guess is that you also have conflicted emotions about this social media site used by over 1 billion people worldwide. And if you do, you have plenty of company in the conflict.
Last year, in marking its ten-year anniversary, CNN reported on the good and the bad that can result from spending time on the Mark Zuckerberg-founded site.
The Good About Facebook?
- We can share everything from announcing a marriage to buying a house to bringing home a puppy.
- Friends, long lost relatives, teachers, new acquaintances—most can be found on Facebook with a couple of mouse-clicks.
- Using Facebook makes us feel good! In 2009, a survey of 2,600 college students by researchers at the University of Texas showed that those who were the heaviest users of Facebook were the most satisfied with their lives. They also were more likely to be engaged socially and politically.
- Everyday spent on Facebook becomes a reunion with friends.
- Privacy settings allow users to keep pieces of information about their lives out of the public eye. . . or for close friends’ eyes only.
The Bad About Facebook?
- People share too much on Facebook. Really, how many people want to see a picture of the taco salad you ate at lunch?
- Most anyone can be found on Facebook, and sometimes people don’t want to be found, or reminded of their past. Eighty percent of divorce attorneys claim that they’ve seen an increase in cases involving social media.
- Using Facebook makes us feel terrible. In 2013, a University of Michigan researcher found that looking at Facebook posts of friends enjoying vacations around the world, or sharing news about promotions and purchases and accomplishments can make us feel sadder about our own humdrum lives.
- Everyday spent on Facebook becomes a reunion with friends. And because it is, why bother actually getting together for a face-to-face reunion?
- Facebook pages get hacked into. Advertisers watch accounts and track preferences. Your privacy can be a thing of the past quite quickly.
CNN’s assessment is accurate, but incomplete, I believe. To the list of the Good About Facebook, I would add:
- Provides people with exposure to articles, videos, petitions, causes and websites that one normally might not know about. For example, Pennies 4 Paws, Inc. raises funds to rescue dogs in high kill shelters. They transport the dogs to other shelters out of which the 4-legged friends are more likely to be adopted. There’s the Breast Cancer Site that shares stories of those who are battling that particular form of cancer. There are Go Fund Me Sites that are set up to help individuals finance various causes. A friend just set up a page for his son who is dealing with brain cancer radiation treatments and who is asking for financial assistance to help pay medical bills. There are plenty of heart-warming stories that make us better and build us up as individuals and as communities.
To the list of the Bad about Facebook, I would add:
- Gives people the chance to behave very badly when responding to: postings; pleas for assistance; opinions, and ideas. Respondents to postings can be downright rude, profane, cruel. Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, they call people names ranging from moron to idiot to words I cannot share in this article. They disrespect others who hold different opinions than they do, or those who look different than the norm (whatever that might be). They take potshots at everyone from the President to the Pope, the teacher to the student, the candidate to the cab driver. They belittle and cackle and crow about the stupidity of another, forgetting that the one they make fun of and condemn is a child of God, too.
This behavior breaks my heart. God did not create us to live this way in relationship with others—no matter who those others might be. God created us to love him and love each other. God created us to serve one another, lift each other up, bring his joy and his love into the lives of our brothers and sisters who are all children of one Father, our God. And it does nothing to witness to the power, presence, call and grace of God in our lives.
Can we therefore, make a pledge to follow Christ’s call to love neighbor as self, not just in our interactions at home, school, work or in the immediate neighborhood—but also as we share ideas and opinions in the neighborhood that touches pretty much every corner of the world. Can we share ideas and opinions respectfully in ways that: address injustices; prompt discussion; allow us to build up individuals and communities; point others to Christ, remembering:
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!