Lucia's Blog: THE CHRISTIAN AND SOCIAL MEDIA
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE CHRISTIAN AND SOCIAL MEDIA

“9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”  
1 Peter 2:9-12


Our social media have created a surreal world for us. We communicate with the world from a safe distance. No eyes can see us unless we want them to. We can say what we really want to say without immediate consequences. It is like being a little drunk: either you become your belligerent self or your sweet self and sometimes people get hurt. Let's talk about some old Gospel principles that might help our relationships in this new field of experiences.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about social media, its pros, and cons.  Social media is an incredible resource, an outlet for wit and wisdom.  It is an excellent way to connect with people one would never have met otherwise; to get news and share information wider and faster.  On the other hand, it is a place where common sense and decency often dies.  There are many foolish people, who spew hatred, lunacy, and folly, without a second thought.  They do not follow God's wisdom in their social media.  Thanks to mediums like Facebook some take pride in sowing strife and stirring the pot when it would be better to show gentleness, (2 Tim. 2:24) and love, (Eph. 4:15).  The venom is sometimes stronger when someone is sharing and defending the Truth.  They forget that we can tell and defend the Truth without devastating and vehement vituperation.  Social media such as Facebook, are a weapon sometimes to instigate and spread division instead of promoting love and unity among brethren.  It grieves me greatly when I see my brethren starting brawls and outrage over politics, race, law enforcement, “guilt by association,” and nitpicking the church.  Surely we can express our faith and convictions without divisive diversions.  Do you think the Lord is pleased with that kind of entertainment and ungodly behavior?

The question is:  Do you use Facebook and other social media as a tool for the glory of God or as a distraction from spiritual priorities?  Is Facebook helping or hindering you to walk in righteousness and holiness?  
  • In Proverbs 10:19 we read, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”  Restraint is the key word here. It means to hold back, mind your words. It is a wise reminder for all of us that we not spout off (brag or boast about anything).
  • Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  Some think that their opinions deserve everyone’s ears and that they can foolishly speak on any issue without a second thought.  Pride and disgrace are present here. 
  • Proverbs 11:12, “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”  Sadly some lack sense and belittle others.  Who shows understanding? The one who is silent. So simple, yet so difficult!
  • Proverbs 12:18, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  They keyword here is rash: thoughtless, unconsidered.  How often do we fire off a post or make comments without thinking? And when we do, it’s intentional; ignoring a much better alternative, godly behavior
  • Proverbs 12:23, “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.”  Do you know that the more we post, and the faster we post, the less prudent we become? It reveals a lack of knowledge or wisdom; thus we say what we ought not. It would be wiser to hold back. 
  • Proverbs 14:29, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”  How many times are people tempted to respond to a post right away (especially when they're angry), when they shouldn't?   It would be better to sleep on it and consider their words with more care.    
  • Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Some would rather respond to a post right away when they're angry rather than waiting until they're calm, and their mind is clearer so that they can respond with a soft answer.   
  • Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  Do you know what’s not glory?  The biting and excoriating of a post or comment. Swallow your anger! It tastes bitter, but it is good medicine.
  • Proverbs 22:24, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.” It’s almost as if Solomon was thinking of Facebook and other social media! 
  • Proverbs 23:9, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. Does that make you wonder if it's wise to post anything at all?  Many who do are surprised at the responses they receive. 
  • Proverbs 26:4, Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” Keep in mind that arguing with a fool makes you one too!  
  • Proverbs 26:1, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”  Think of that dog as a pit bull, with foam coming out of its mouth, with its leash dragging behind. That’s right; mind your own business!!
  • Proverbs 26:20, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.  The wood here is a house fire, already raging which needs to be put out rather than pouring more gasoline on it. 
  • Proverbs 29:9, “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”  That is, getting into an argument with a social media fool who enjoys it.  It will lead you to no peace or satisfaction.  
  • Proverbs 29:11, A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Just because we can post anything, it doesn’t mean we must.  Be wise and ask “why?” then be sure you have a really good answer before you post. 
Indeed, social media is growing explosively and is changing dramatically the way people think of friendship and their surroundings.  And while social media such as Facebook offers us unique opportunities, it also provides us great danger.  As Christians, we must realize that the world of social media networking cannot replace human interaction:  friendship, fellowship, and community.  Facebook has taken the cyber world like a storm and has spun our social lives forever in an entirely different direction.  Facebook is the most social network in the world.  According to Facebook’s own stats, there are now more than 350 million active users and 65 million users are accessing it through their phones, mobile devices.  According to them the average user has 150 Facebook friends or more and spends more than 55 minutes a day on their site.

During the first quarter of 2009, five million people joined Facebook every week.  From August 2008 to March 2009 its members doubled from one hundred million to two hundred million; the vast majority of the members (140 million) joined after February of 2007.  Indeed, Facebook has rapidly generated an impulsive arrangement of human communication that is unique in history.  It has opened many doors of communication that didn't exist before.  It has reconnected old friends, families and has provided significant opportunities to teach the Gospel.  However, not everything that Facebook has to offer is good.  Why?  Because Facebook, in many ways, is like a window into one's soul.  It allows many to see our hobbies and habits.  They can see pictures (family, vacations, favorite songs, and websites, etc.).  Through Facebook, we can easily reveal more about ourselves than we might realize.  Sadly, the walls or pages of many Christians bring nothing but shame on themselves and the Lord's church.  As Christians, we need to be aware of how these broad technologies are shaping us and our society.  Since the greatest commandment is to love God with all our being as well as our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39), it would be wise to discern between the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies, such as Facebook, and “hold fast what is good,” while abstaining “from every form of evil.”  (1 Thess. 5:21-22).  

As God's children in His kingdom, we are to discern between good and evil; encourage others to come to Christ.  Bible principles of righteousness are what ought to govern our use of Facebook and other similar social media.  As Christian women, we ought to behave in a reverent way, so as to not blaspheme the Word of God, (Titus 2:5).  Christian servants ought to behave humbly, that they do not blaspheme the name of God, (1 Tim. 6:1).  Younger men ought to be self-controlled in all respects, that they may not be condemned.  Older men ought to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  We are all to be “well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”  All these Scriptures point us to only one thing, and that is, how to conduct ourselves in our day to day activities and actions, that we might not bring reproach on the body of Christ.  Therefore, our social interactions must encourage others to come to God's kingdom. We are to be salt and light.  It requires a great understanding of culture and its effects on us. Facebook is a dangerous social tool if one does not use wisdom and discernment. The way I conduct myself on such a particular forum may glorify God or may hurt the cause of Christ.  We should follow the example of the tribe of Issachar, who had “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”  (1 Chron. 12:32).

Facebook has many luring and attractive things to offer. It allows us to create our little world; a world that can also be very dangerous if one does not use wisdom.  This little world absorbs us completely if we allow it to happen.  Almost everyone today owns an iPhone or a smartphone. Everything revolves around these devices.  It is entirely dedicated to the owner's preferences.  
  • One can choose or delete any app at any time.  
  • He can use these gadgets to post anything that comes to mind on social media; things that make us look and feel good.
  • We post to see how many likes we can get; our ego is boosted when people click like; our online pride hurts when they don't; everything revolves around us.  
We have indeed become a self-centered society.  The truth is, we need to wake up and grow up.  Our online world may revolve around us, but unfortunately, the real world out there does not!  The real world revolves around the Lord who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, (Matt. 28:18).  We are to live for the Lord and not ourselves.  Social media feeds our egos and makes us more self-absorbed than ever before.  This is not how we can influence the world of darkness.  This is not true Christianity.  Why?  Because we are to humbly serve, obey and be selfless.  Social media is ruining the concept of friendship.  So if I don't like what you have to say about me or what you think of me, I will just “unfriend” you.  That is precisely the way many, even Christians, think when it comes to social media like Facebook.   You can block anyone you don't want to see or hear anymore. I don't deny that there are times when one has to unfriend someone when he is being harassed regularly or attacked.  I've done it!  However, many simply unfriend others when they disagree or are challenged by them, even if there is nothing mean that's been done.  

In my study, I will be focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of Facebook (given its size and impact on culture) and ways to use it wisely for the glory of God.  I hope you may find it edifying.


I.   DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA:
  • Social Networking and Narcissism:
According to Wikipedia.org:  Narcissism is a term with a broad range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some problem in a person or group's relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.

While not everyone on Facebook is a narcissist per se, social networking as a whole is a breeding ground that fosters narcissism and it is the kind of environment where it thrives.   Consider some of the common traits and signs of narcissism:
  1. An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges.  Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships.
  2. A lack of psychological awareness (as described in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic).
  3. Difficulty with empathy.
  4. Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries).
  5. Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury).
  6. Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt.
  7. Haughty body language.
  8. Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply).
  9. Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse).
  10. Using other people without considering the cost of doing so.
  11. Pretending to be more important than they really are.
  12. Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements.
  13. Claiming to be an "expert" at many things.
  14. Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people.
  15. Denial of remorse and gratitude.
[Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)] 

As one reads through this long list, it is easy to see many of these traits in social networking. One thing I have noticed about Facebook is that often something someone says does not have immediate repercussions.  They later come to regret it.  We deceive ourselves when we think that because we are invincible, we have permission to say anything we want from a distance, and get  away with it.  One example is an obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges.  The media make it easy to focus on ourselves through our posts.  In fact, at times it may feel impossible to not focus on ourselves.  And while it is true that people tend to focus on themselves in every area of life, in a real friendship, we don’t focus so much on ourselves but on our friends. In social networking, friendships center around the self. The user is encouraged to share everything about his own life with the world, taking the risk of being seen in other people's posts.  Many of these posts are mundane.  As a result, one is compelled to share what one eats for breakfast, how much one worked out on a given day, where one parked the car, what one is doing next week, post pictures about everything and everywhere; what one ordered at any restaurant, etc.  In a few words, we have surrendered our privacy.
  • Using Facebook as a Weapon:
Facebook's is the chain that links people and societies together.  Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook's owner, claims that the website exists to "create a more connected world."  I disagree with him since Facebook (and other social media) are sites that end up absorbing people's lives and time, leaving some with negative thoughts of jealousy, anger, sadness, and regret.  However, there is another sinister side to Facebook, and that is using Facebook as a weapon.  Below I will discuss a few ways in which Facebook is used as a weapon.

1.   Social Media is Ruining The Concept of Friendship:
  • Unfriending:  
To Facebook users, relationships and friends are crucial. Without online "connections" among users, social media would not exist.  Yet, when people get angry at others or do not agree with their views, they punish them by unfriending the person. Unfriending is frequently used to send a strong message to the other person.  It's a message that states that the person is angry at you and has acted on that anger.  It is a message that says that you did something wrong and that you should be sorry and pay for it.  The wrong could be anything (minor or major); it could be a differing political view, religious view, or simply something said that was wrong on Facebook.  Perhaps that person just does not like you or wants to control you.  No matter what the reasons are, using Facebook as a form of punishment is childish, foolish and not Christ-like. 

Sadly, in mediums like Facebook, people punish each other for not agreeing with their views.  Have you ever been "unfriended" for disagreeing with another person?  I have!  In fact, I have noticed on Facebook that people were "unfriending" others left and right when they did not agree with something they said.  It's kind of sad that it has gotten to the point where one can not disagree with others without fearing social chastisement on social media!  How is a person supposed to grow as an individual, especially as a Christian, if their beliefs or doctrines as well as conduct are not challenged?  Many doctrines and beliefs out there are false!  However, punishing a person for thinking differently than you is not Christ-like and is not right.  Sadly, this is all too common on Facebook and other social media.

So if I don't like what you have to say about me, I will unfriend you.  That is how many Facebook users think, even Christians.  You can block or unfollow someone, so you don't have to see or hear from them anymore.  And though I have unfriended others for legitimate reasons, it has always hurt me.  If they are brethren, this makes it much more difficult.  If you don't agree with someone who challenges you, all you have to do is hit a button to keep people from communicating with us online. This is exactly what happens so often in the Lord's church when someone is admonished.  They get upset and end up removing themselves from the church.  The Gospel gives us specific details about how we ought to deal with sin in our brethren, (Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:15-20).  Likewise, it also gives us insight on how we are to treat each other, (Eph. 4:1-3).  There is no button in the Bible where one can unfriend or block one another.  But social media makes it very easy to have only those friends who we like or like us, think and talk like us, or like everything we post.  The truth is, the real world is not like that!   Right?  Let's face it, there will be times when we must be confronted about sin or error; we need to be disagreed with if we are wrong; we need to be challenged to do better. Therefore, we must learn to,
  • Get along and learn to forgive, to reconcile with others.
  • Be more tolerant with those we disagree over matters of judgment.
  • Be more patient toward others.  It would be wise to remember Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”  Sadly, social media does not teach that, and as a result is robbing us of those skills.  Let's take this to heart!
  • Liking One Person's Posts and Ignoring Another's:
Some people use the like button as a weapon.  They will like every post but yours or ignore your posts on purpose.  It could be there is a little jealousy.  Maybe you're getting too many likes already or more than others are getting. Maybe I will like you if you will like me, but if you don’t hit like, I will not like any of your posts.  Do you see what I mean about using a "like" as a weapon or force to control another?
  • Social Media Can Become Antisocial:  
It gets worse when social media relationships are more important than face-to-face relationships. This affirms the technological problem of  “the absent present.”  And though you might have someone next to you, you are immersed in your cell phone, iPod, iPad or laptop.  Let's face it, social media feeds our entertainment-driven-culture.  Have you noticed how people's attention span is becoming shorter?  This is because our appetite for entertainment is becoming greater.

 According to Pearse (2012), “People who score highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly. The research comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships” (p. 1).

Indeed, our culture has changed drastically from the world we knew only a few years ago.  Social networking sites such as Facebook, have changed how we live our day to day lives.  Most communication with our friends and family can now be done via Facebook from the comfort of our own couch. Because of our easy access to the world of the internet, many Christians have become bored with singing songs of praise, reading and studying the Bible, defending and teaching the Truth to our neighbor, etc.  They have the audacity to come to church and use their devices to check on Facebook, Twitter, etc. while the preacher is preaching a sermon.  Are we giving up worship to feed the entertainment drive?  We must go back to being Christians who love God and His Word and Ways. That demands cutting ourselves off from some of these things that have imprisoned us and mastered us; those things we are relying on so much.  The question is:  Do you want to go to heaven or do you want to be mastered by these things?

2.   Trolling and Lying:

Some use Facebook as a means to troll others. This is seen in many political posts. Some create memes and images to troll with something that is completely false.  As a result, many believe these lies and share it with others causing flames of controversy, endless arguments, and divisive issues. How sad!  Memes are used to distort the truth, especially in the political arena.  We must be careful since many news sources can not be trusted.  Many political websites twist reality and distort facts, so people will click on the links and help them generate ad revenue. Take heed!

3.   Guard Your Tongue -  Hard to do on Facebook:

The Bible tells us that a wise person speaks little and guards his tongue.  Yet, people talk too much on Facebook.  Our words are many rather than few.  Let's look at what the Bible says about our speech:
  1. Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” (Proverbs 21:23). 
  2. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29). 
  3. “From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:20-21)
  4. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28)
  5. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
  6. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36)
  7. “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-4).
Our words express what's inside our heart.  Our thoughts become words which then become good or evil.  We must not speak foolishly.  It is foolish to express whatever thought that may come to mind. We must think before we speak.  Words bring death and destruction! Words injure the conscience of others and ours as well.  They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. Let us take heed!

Facebook is at times the perfect environment for uncontrolled tongues, (James 3:5).  All kinds of hurtful words that disrupt, divide and destroy, spew out of our Facebook pages or walls. (Proverbs 12:18). Guarding our tongue is hard to do on Facebook or other social media.  Guarding what one says and remaining silent is very hard to do when everyone else is being so noisy.   Some forget to acknowledge that one moment of carelessness can do irreparable harm.  We sometimes see “meltdowns” on newsfeeds that make us wonder if they have lost their mind.  It is the perfect place for flashes of anger, pity parties, vulgarity, and constant rants.  Many don't seem to acknowledge that such moments of unbridled emotion can drastically tarnish one's reputation forever.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Words are powerful tools for construction or destruction in the lives of others. They can be used for great good or great evil, blessing or cruelty. You may know the little ditty: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me." It is total nonsense. When you were most deeply hurt, was it not words that caused the lasting damage? Perverse words break the spirit and crush the soul. Carelessness with words is the mark of a fool. Whether Facebook status updates or comments, tweets, blog posts and their comments, chat room chatter, instant messaging or texting, speech or song, the godly man sets out to use words to do good, to promote health instead of destruction.  Take heed!

Remember the power of words, (Prov. 10:11;Prv. 12:18;Prov. 15:1-2; Prov. 15:4; Porv. 15:23; Prov. 16:13; Prov. 6:24; Prov. 25:11; Prov. 25:25; Prov. 31:8-9; Prov. 18:21; Prov. 18:21).
Social media is a powerful weapon for gossip, bullying, pessimism, evil suspicions, and lots of complaining. (Prov. 11:13; 26:20; 1 Tim. 6:4).  Facebook can lead us to mindless character and worse, (Prov. 13:3; 18:21).  Remember that words are powerful.  They can either harm or help. There are consequences to how we use our tongues.  For example, if you ridicule someone, you have already become arrogant and unloving.  If you use profanity when posting and join in coarse joking, you have already lowered yourself in the sewer of vulgarity, (Eph. 4:29, 5:3-4).  If you post rumor, malicious gossip, and tale-bearing, you have already left the land of brotherly love and have crossed over the land of bitterness and malice, (Eph. 4:31-32).  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

Let us not conform to the world but be a light that shines in so much darkness.  Let us not use our words to tear others down but rather to build them up. Why not pray before posting or making comments?  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  (Psalm 19:14).  Let others see the light of Christ based on what you post, (Matt. 5:16).  Social networks can be a great tool to show others the hope we have in Christ.  We can encourage and challenge others to believe in Christ and follow Him.  But we must behave worthy of our calling in social media.

4.   Envy and Dissatisfaction:   

The boast of one’s accomplishments on Facebook has the tendency to make many jealous and dissatisfied with themselves.  For many, it's a dissatisfaction that lasts long after they log off.  It is a dissatisfaction that eats at a person and can cause long-lasting effects in their life.  Envy is not good nor is it righteous!  It will "rot the bones."  Living a life of dissatisfaction is a complete and utter shame.  Sadly, many people who spend vast amounts of time on the internet, end up being dissatisfied and not thankful for the things that they do have in life.  Blessings that come from above, our heavenly Father!  Many waste their best years feeling depressed over their lives while comparing themselves to others.  Instead of counting the blessings in their lives: family, friends, a roof over their heads, money, job, personal possessions, salvation, hope, Christ, health, etc., many are instead lamenting over what they don't have and feeling bouts of envy

The truth is, many care too much about what others think of them and what better arena than Facebook?   Some seem to care obsessively about what others think of themselves that they make themselves prey to "proving themselves" constantly to the rest of the world.  The question is, is it worth it to spend our time proving ourselves on Facebook?  When in doing this, are we actually living a glorious life?  Is it good for our self-esteem to always prove ourselves to the world rather than God?  So many waste their time, drowning themselves in pride and boasting.  So why do we care so much about what other people think of us?  

Facebook can make us feel low or inferior and reduce our satisfaction in life if we let it. Those are the results of a survey of nearly 600 Facebook users by Information Systems scientists at the TU Darmstadt and the Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin.  In a joint research study conducted by the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt (Prof. Dr. Peter Buxmann) and the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin (Dr. Hanna Krasnova), Facebook members were surveyed regarding their feelings after using the platform.

More than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings, such as frustration. The researchers identified that envying their “Facebook friends” is the major reason for this result.
Project manager Dr. Hanna Krasnova, who is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Humboldt-Universität, explained that, “Although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of “others” on this platform – a clear indication that envy is a salient phenomenon in the Facebook context. Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful ‘friends’ fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy. By and large, online social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others – insights that would be much more difficult to obtain offline.”

Indeed, Facebook-envy fosters dissatisfaction. Envy is perhaps the main reason why Facebook has become so huge. The fact that one can so easily create envy using Facebook is in part why the site is incredibly addictive. Envy can lead to severe depression, self-loathing, rage, hatred, resentment, feelings of inferiority and insecurity, pessimism, suicidal tendencies and desires, social isolation, among others.  A study which was published in December 2012 found, that the more people spend on Facebook, the worse they felt about their own lives. Yet many people refuse to let go. Though people are starting to understand that psychologically, being "on" Facebook is not healthy, this social media has a hold on many lives.

Social media can surely add fuel to the fire of covetousness and insecurity.  As a result, it leads many to be discontent, unhappy, bitter, frustrated and depressed.  Why?  Because of the comparison game many people or users play, even Christians.  Often many compare themselves to others regarding their relationships, possessions, faith, accomplishments and lifestyle.  Have you noticed how many love to post pictures of their “trophies” and treasures?  Don't you think this is a sign of not being content?  Do they not know that the secret to contentment lies in not having everything one wants, but rather being thankful for what one has or possesses?!  May we all learn to be always content like Paul who learned to be content in every situation, (Phil. 4:11-13). 

5.   Comparing Ourselves With Others on Facebook: 
“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” (Matthew 18:9).
This is one of the biggest and most depressing parts of Facebook.  It is a constant game of comparing one's life with the life of others.  Do you measure up to what others have accomplished?  If not, will you ever?  Should you care?  Life is not about comparing yourself with others, but with the stature of Christ. Comparing one'self to others does not bring happiness but rather misery!

Without a doubt, social media can make one depressed when one compares himself to others. It is an open door of temptation for comparisons which lead to nothing more than discontent and ultimately envy and jealousy when others seem to have more blessings than others (a better home, a better spouse, better job, better relationships, better popularity, better skills or talents, better... ).  Without even knowing, we find ourselves trapped in these sins of envy and jealousy which is nothing more than comparing ourselves to others. It is insane! Why?  Because it drives many to live lives that are merely false realities. It makes them slaves of living a life that is censored through status updates on Facebook.  It makes them compete with one another.  Always trying to see who is the best and who is superior; who has more power and control rather than busying themselves with something else that is more productive (their walk with the Lord and bearing good fruit for His glory). They play the game of comparing their faith, their talents, educational and intellectual achievements, their friends, their children, their lifestyle, their beauty, their righteous deeds, their popularity, etc. The list is endless!

You see, comparing ourselves to others can be a very dangerous game. And while it may be a motivational thing or inspiration, it can often lead to terrible consequences. It can destroy our primary focus (righteousness and the kingdom of God) and lead us into the path of sin. It can make us feel better and more worthy than those to whom we are comparing ourselves. Ultimately this comparison game leads us to pride, boasting, discontent, discouragement, envy, and jealousy. We must be careful!! Let us not be like the Pharisee of Jesus' day who boasted of being more righteous than other sinners.

The comparison game is nothing new. Cain compared himself to Abel.  Jesus’ disciples also struggled with this, John 21:23. One way or another we all have to fight against the impulse of playing the comparison game, but it must not be so among us.  Contentment and happiness are something that must come from within, not from other people you may not even know that well. Why then, are you using people as a means to validate your life?  Contentment is easy to achieve when one kills the dragons of comparison (jealousy and envy) and keeps his eyes fixed on our King of kings and Lord of lords. The only one worth our comparison is Jesus.  The consequences of comparing ourselves to another are many times devastating.  It is not worth it to lose one' soul because of envy and jealousy.  It can lead to pride, boasting, and self-righteousness, (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 12:3; Romans 14:13; I Cor. 4:7). It leads to carnality and spiritual immaturity, (Romans 8:5; I Cor. 3:1-8; I Cor. 4:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:12; I Peter 4:2).  It takes our primary focus off of God by putting it everywhere else except on the cross. It puts the main focus on us.  This is wrong!  Because we can become consumed by thinking only about our "wants," indulging in "pity parties."  In our selfish pride, we may try to impress others into thinking that we are what we are not. When we do this, we can no longer live a life that brings glory to God, because our focus is on our own glory.  This can make us miserable!  It can affect our walk with Christ and those around us. It robs us of so much joy and peace. It keeps us away from our God-given purpose.  How are we going to reach and save others if we are totally absorbed with what we don't have in comparison to others? God expects us to love others and to do it heartily.

Comparing ourselves to others leads us to competition. I see this happening a lot on Facebook.  I do not deny that competition is good when is put in the right place. But it is so terrible to think of others as competitors against us. If we are bound to compare ourselves to others, why not compare ourselves to Jesus our Lord, to the stature of His fullness? Why not focus on the Lord and His example when we are tempted to compare ourselves to others?  Ultimately, pleasing Jesus is all that really matters.

6.   Lovers of Self:
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”  (2 Timothy 3:1-4 )
When I look at the above statement and look at Facebook, I can not help but see that much of what I see is in agreement with the above statement.  The question is:  Is social media leading us to sin?  Are we glorifying our God or self?  Does Facebook come in the way of building a godly character?  Reflect and pray on it, and ask yourself if Facebook is a stumbling block to you. Think about it!

There is no denying that the popularity of Facebook is based on showing one's life off to others. There is no doubt that many who are on Facebook love themselves so much that they want to thrust their lives into the faces of whoever will take notice.  Facebook's endless crowing seems to be a way to share your "love of self" with the rest of the world.  Some call it 'sharing your life' but, the truth is that Facebook is a way in which you can take loving yourself to the extreme.  “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”  (Philippians 2:3-11).  

7.   Lovers of Pleasure:

Many regard Facebook to be a pleasure, something that is entertaining.  How many of us can go hours without logging on to check our Facebook, share our lives, or boast about our accomplishments?  How many log on to Facebook simply to complain about everything and others?  How many openly state that they hate their leaders, their bosses, their loved ones, their brethren, their jobs, etc.?  How many complain about how others have mistreated them and how unfair life is?  Does that reveal the character of Christ in us?  I can not help but shake my head.  As a Christian, I feel at times that Facebook is not the place for me.  But then I think about what the Truth of God can do in the hearts of others.  A Truth that I yearn to share with others.  This is what's keeping me still in this arena. 

8. Without Self Control:

I can not even begin to count how many times I have been on Facebook and have seen pictures of professing Christians parading about in various stages of undress, drunkenness, and showing off debauchery even outright boasting of sinful pleasures.  All of this is a slap in the Lord's face.  As if it were not bad enough to sin, they feel a need to parade that sin in front of the world and dress it up with pride!  We are called to be temperate, i.e., have self-control.  We are called to be a "peculiar people."  Christians are called to run away from the cares of this world, not towards it.  I sincerely think Facebook is of the world.  There is no way to deny it.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17). 

9. Lovers of Money:

Many use Facebook as a conduit to brag about their lifestyles.  Some share their jobs, status, wealth and their prestige to others without even thinking about how others in a worse position feel about it. Many who have lost their jobs and are at a difficult time in life, look on Facebook to see the bragging of friends that have achieved much worldly success in life.  The result is intense jealousy, anger, and self-loathing.  Yet Christ teaches us that it is not worldly success that matters.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7).  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).  Facebook, on the other hand, makes us feel that it is the treasures of earth that matter.  “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  (Matthew 22:37)  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Matthew 6:24).

How many people dwell on the heavenly things when they are on Facebook?  How many people can put away pride, arrogance, and love of self when they log into a website that is designed to exalt self? To sum it up, Facebook is a stumbling block for many Christians, and a place where many of God's children would be better off not visiting.  Pray about your Facebook use.  Is it making you spend less time with God and making you a better Christian?  Is it directing you to heaven or hell?

10. Bragging or Boasting to Make Others Feel Inferior:

Facebook was made to order for bragging.  In boasting, we yearn to be liked and accepted by others to achieve popularity.  Boasting does not show the mind of Christ. Many state that they like to share their love of God with others, yet I wonder if they're doing it to share Christ or could it be to boast about their faith to get many likes.  Do you suppose it is very different than how the Pharisees boasted of their faith in God?  As Christians, we are not to boast at all!  The Bible is crystal clear about this.  Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.”  (Jeremiah 9:23).  We all have traits and talents that are gifts from God.  Yet, we are to see them as gifts and not as something to be arrogant or boast about.  We are not to use our skills or talents to make others feel inferior to us. Period!! 

Today's culture is loud and proud.  Social media absorb us (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Blogger, etc.).  We are slaves, always posting about what we see, hear, think and do as if we were trying to impress someone. We have lost our sense of privacy. Our opinions, our thoughts, feelings or emotions are all posted on social media. We sound off without a second thought. We serve only our selfish and fleshly "interests."

We seem to strive for worldly perfection and the approval and praise of men.  Our social media compel us to seek the flattery of others, with the sole purpose of serving our vanity. We play the "comparison game" to see who is better and more powerful. We gauge our worth according to our popularity. Shameless bragging comes as natural as breathing. Without realizing it, we fall into the snare of building an altar to self.  We forget to live for God in heaven. Instead, we live for self, serving our own vanity, pride, and selfishness. We fall to all of Satan's snares, feeding and nurturing our vain little god, through all of these fleshly things.

Social networking is indeed a tool for validating one's life, for bragging and boasting.  I do not deny that we all at times need validation.  Some more than others.  In today's culture we are told to conform but be unique; that we need to fit in to be successful; that we need to dress a certain way, following the gods of fashion without God in the picture; that our worth is shown by how much we possess. As a result of this terrible confusion, many are often led the wrong way.  They are dissatisfied about their lives as well as insecure.  Some are even angry about their lives.   Social media takes advantage of all these weaknesses, leading many to gauge their competition.

Facebook is a site where many are tempted to feel unhappy about their lives.  It is a world where we tend to compete.  We must bolster our self-esteem.  It is simply a contest of self-validation where every soul is a prisoner.  How awful is that!

Bragging is a weapon. Subtly but persistently exaggerating one's achievements is a huge mark of narcissism.  In fact, it is often anything but subtle.  Our Facebook wall makes it easier to brag about every little part of our life, no matter how ordinary.  Some brag about where they went on vacation, their jobs, their academic achievements, pictures, their children, their beauty, talents or skills, events, our homes, cars, spouses, pets, our wants, lifestyles and anything else.    It is a temptation for many. It is insane!

Pride in one's accomplishments is not necessarily a bad thing, but bragging about ourselves incessantly over the internet is!  Facebook bragging quickly becomes something of an obsession. Many will show off anything they can until the obsession reaches critical levels. Do you suppose such behavior is godly and Christ-like?

Let's face it, social media boosts many egos.  “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  (Matt. 8:36).  We are willing to believe the lie that our worth is measured by how many “likes” we receive on our posts and how many people are following us.  So if your mood is based upon the number of “likes” or “reshares” your posts receive, you're undoubtedly deceived and caring too much about the approval of men.  Why not rejoice in the gospel's truth that states that you are a child of God because of what Christ has done for you?!  In the end, what really matters is that we be found approved of God as:
  1. A worker who has no need to be ashamed.
  2. Someone who is seeking the approval of God and not men.
  3. A faithful servant of Christ.
  4. Someone who has been redeemed and is no longer living for himself but for Christ and His righteousness.
  5. Someone who discerns what is pleasing to God.
  6. Someone who wants to hear his Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'”  Don't we all need to work harder at this?!  I do!!
If we do not pursue Christ and His righteousness, forsaking the altar of self, we cannot bear good fruit nor can we be saved.  It renders us weak and fruitless, making us lose our souls eternally.
"When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom."  (Proverbs 11:2).
"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."  (Proverbs 27:2).  "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."'  (James 4:6).

11. Pride Book - Facebook is a Tool of Pride:

Have you ever noticed how some imply that they are better than others or that they could do a better job? This is pure arrogance!  “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (1 Peter 5:5).  Christ calls us to be humble, yet humbleness is almost impossible when surrounded by a crowd of people who are regularly sharing their own perceived greatness with the rest of the world.  We are called to honor our elders and give those who are in power respect, yet how many people spew words of hate toward politicians and those with whom they do not agree on platforms like Facebook?  The amount of hate speech that is on Facebook is numbing.  When such words of hate enter our minds, they take us away from the mind of Christ. Does your speech build up or tear  others down?  “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”  (James 3:10).  

For some, ego has taken on a life of its own.  Their ego is at the center.  We deceive ourselves trying to prove that we are worth more than others by parading our life and so-called accomplishments in front of those who will listen.  Yet, who is listening?  Who is going to jump through the screen and pat you on the back?  Perhaps you are talking to yourself.  Maybe your pride is starting to take on its own existence.  

It is great to do things for others and to achieve great things.  It is not so great to go on Facebook and brag about them, puff yourself up about it, and use it as a weapon to make yourself seem better than others.  Usually, these users are on Facebook a lot!

Pride is a permanent fixture for some on Facebook.  Their views are always right, their life is front and center and the one to follow, their accomplishments are the biggest and most important, their problems are the most vital.  Accept it and embrace it:  just because you made a post on Facebook does not make you the star of the show. 

So if you are bragging about your life behind a screen, perhaps you do not have much to brag about. Why not give thanks for the things that you certainly do have?  Facebook culture has turned into one doing something and then running to Facebook to show it off.  This is what young children do, yet on Facebook, it is "adults" that are doing it!!   No wonder there is so much dissatisfaction among many in our "connected" generation.  Comparing ourselves to others, hoping to be noticed for what we say and do on the internet, and feeling that we need to prove ourselves on Facebook does nothing positive for our heart and mind.  It affects us and puts a stumbling block in our way.   It hurts us also, and it is addictive, and there must come a time to say enough is enough.

Do you think that ego and pride have run amok on Facebook?  Do you feel good knowing that a few people are raking in billions of dollars while you are trying to prove your life on Facebook as something to be envied, and they are laughing all the way to the bank?! 

So why not cultivate humility instead?  
  • “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Prov. 11:2)
  • “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished.” (Prov. 16:5)
  • “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (Prov. 20:6)
  • “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.” (Prov. 24:17-18)
  • “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Prov. 27:2)
  • “A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” (Prov. 29:23)
  • “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.” (Prov. 30:32)
Therefore, do not be obsessed with measuring your petty progress and your ephemeral fame. Numbers can be deadly, especially if we become enslaved to them. How many friends do I have? What about him or her? How many views? How many likes or shares? We are being trained to think for a straight competition in which numbers are the register of success or failure, influence or irrelevance. Why not exalt Christ, esteeming others more highly than yourself?  Why seek out the applause and attention, compliments, and flattery? Do not proclaim your good deeds. It is self-promoting and it is not righteous, (see Mt. 6:1-4)! Let your social media be used to serve God and others, and not yourself! 

12.  Garnishing Pity Through Facebook:

For some, Facebook makes it easier to complain.  Whether it's about our life, about the state of the world, or about other people, there's no other place quite like this medium.  It has become a platform for complaining.  The Scriptures say, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing... " (Phil. 2:14). Paul and Jesus had a lot they could have complained about.  God's will for His children is the opposite.  He wants us to give thanks in all circumstances, (1 Thess. 5:18).  Optimism is what ought to govern us as children of God and not pessimism.  There is always something negative for us to feel sorry for.  Things get rough, so we complain about it.  Modern fashion has made social media a therapeutic place to complain.  However, the complaining of one often gets drowned out by the complaining of others who also lament their lot in life.  Many are very negative about their lives and don't hesitate to sound off.  They know this will bring attention and garnish sympathy from others on Facebook.  It is amazing!

I notice that people are not only overly negative on sites like Facebook, but all over the internet. Many Internet forums are rife with individuals complaining about their life, the economy, the government, and anything else they can think of.  Others believe that their lives would not be so terrible if only they could change themselves.  Wallowing in self-pity is a lot easier for them than making their life better. Some of my friends on Facebook are very optimistic and good Christians. However, as a whole, I see a lot of negativity. Whining on the internet does not do anyone any good. The whiner only convinces himself that he is powerless and can not change his life.  Those who see others whining are often encouraged to do the same.  By complaining constantly, we make ourselves miserable as well as others.  Take heed!

13.  Can Be An Open Door For Illicit Relationships To Bloom:

It can open the door to inappropriate relationships.  One of social media's advantages is that it can help us keep connected with other people that would otherwise be difficult on a regular basis. However, there is danger here because there are people we should not be quite so connected with. Old flames are just one of many examples of inappropriate relationships that can be rekindled via Facebook.  Studies have proven time and time again that people relax their inhibitions when connecting via the “passive medium” of social media.  Therefore, it is vital to guard our conversations, our connections, and keep oneself accountable at all times.  The same applies to text messaging.

Facebook has been the cause of many divorces.  Many divorces today are caused by discontent spouses rekindling old flames on Facebook.  Don't let this happen to you!  Exercise godly wisdom and cut off all bad company that may hinder your living a holy and righteous life.  (1 Cor. 15:33).
In a recent survey done by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 2/3 of lawyers said Facebook was the primary cause of evidence in divorce proceedings.  Another report by Pew Research showed that one in five adults use Facebook for flirting.  It usually starts with someone looking up a high school or college sweetheart just to see what they're doing now.  That leads to, of course, a “friend request” which eventually leads to messaging one another, “just to catch up,” they say.  I don't deny that, at times, it is innocent, but often, it is not.  It becomes adulterous.  The modern phrase is “emotional affair.”  Some get caught up in their emotions.  Then follows the physical affair.  We can't afford to be naive and fall prey.  We must guard our marriages rather than look for ways out of them.  So if your spouse refuses to let you look at his/her page or wall, there might be a problem there.  Sometimes it is wise to unfriend when there's a little bit of uneasiness about an individual.  Facebook is not the cause only for illicit affairs.  Texting, emails, and other chat sites are just as ripe with such potential.  The Bible is plain about how husbands and wives ought to treat each other, (Eph. 5:23).  Therefore, we cannot allow, under any circumstance, the lure of social media to come between our spouses and us.  Take heed!

14.  For Some Life Is Too Public With Facebook:

Though many of us like the concept of being private individuals, life on Facebook is not private at all!  Some have the tendency to share every detail of their lives on Facebook without a second thought. It is hard not to share details about one's life when one is on social media since everyone is doing it.  Some feel the need to share every aspect of their lives with those who will take notice.  The draw of watching other people or maintaining "virtual" friendships is so strong that many can't escape. It's true that life is not about keeping secrets, but it's not about telling everything to others either.  I have noticed that some often tell too much about themselves and their lives over the internet, and come to regret it later.  Facebook can tempt us to say too much sometimes.  Being a private person is a positive thing that is valued less and less in a noisy world.  Our world is obsessed with the idea of sharing one's lives at all times.  Our society tends to lift up the loud and the bold.  If people are talking about you, then you are on top.  As a result, people compete to be seen and heard.  It is not a great virtue to want to be noticed all the time.  Our culture says "you are great if you are noticed." It is on Facebook that many people get their "fifteen minutes of fame."  There is a cost to being a private person, a psychological cost that is rooted deep in our culture.  For some Facebook is just a means of becoming more popular and more seen.

Facebook holds up private things to public display.  Some are masochists and like to embarrass themselves on Facebook.  They're driven by an impulse to type anything that comes to their mind without thinking about it twice, (Proverbs 14:29).  Decency and decorum are replaced with rudeness.  Private and even shameful things are publicly exposed, (Eph. 5:12).  Don't you think it is wise to spare our words and everything our hearts want to share or say?!  (Prov. 17:27-28; 25:9-10).  

Unfortunately, many Facebook users are not mature enough to bear the overexposure of self.  As the Proverbs often state, “the wise hold their peace, but fools proclaim their folly.”  One should be cautious about choosing confidants, (Psalm 1).  Some aspects of one's life should not be concealed at all! There is too much folly, frivolity, and triviality in social network.  And it is not wise to expose everything to everyone.  While secrecy wrongly conceals vices or wrongdoing, confidentiality is prudent because it shields those things that need to be kept out of view.  Sadly many lack discretion that is required to hold their peace.  For example, once one posts on FB that one has been treated harshly in whatever way, it becomes a cry of pain.  The problem here is that Facebook was the place to air it out.  Facebook is not the place to air out all of life's problems.  They are to be shared privately only with those who are prudent enough to help and not gossip.  Be careful what you say before a vast number of Facebook users!  Be wise!  In the case of confiding all of our marital or family problems and opening the door for discussion in a public forum like Facebook, it is vital that we handle them wisely in private, with prayer and perhaps with someone like a faithful older preacher or an elder of the church. Be wise and shine your light before men.  Take heed!

Many feed off of the attention of others. They crave it. These are the people who use Facebook as a personal diary, publishing every event of their lives, dying for their friends to like their statuses and comments about them. Facebook is comparable to the experiment done in 1901 by Ivan Pavlov involving classical conditioning and his famous dog. The dog responded to the sound of a bell ringing by salivating, because he knew that he was going to be receiving food soon. The bright red notifications that appear against the cool, calming blue of the profile screen are similar to the food rewards. They shout out, Someone cares enough about you to "like" your status or comment on it, you are a worthy person!”  Some people live their lives waiting for these notifications to pop up and boost their self-esteem. It makes them feel like the kid in High School elected to be “The Most Likely To Succeed.”  And when their lives get boring, they feel the need to broadcast everything publicly so it can be commented upon. They will start to post vague status updates that indicate they are having a terrible day or are feeling down, prodding their friends to ask them what is wrong or why they are sad.  In doing this, they successfully recruit a large number of their friends to join their little pity party and give them the attention that they have been craving.

15.  Facebook Can Consume Our Time:  (Eph. 5:16).

Is your use of social media helping you redeem the time?  Let's be honest; social media is a black hole that sucks up our time.  It is easy to go on Facebook to “check one thing” and to stay on for an hour or more.  Think of the good you could have accomplished during that time.  Are you making the best use of the short life God has given you here on earth?  Think about it!

Be aware of your time and your attention.
(Pro. 10:26;14:23;18:9;19:15;22:13;24:30-34;28:19). Though how we spend our time affects our relationship with God, it also affects our relationships with others as well (family members and brethren).  Are you aware of how much time you are spending on Facebook?  There are tools available to help you log your time online. Believe it or not, many notice just how much time you spend online. Paul calls upon us to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph 5.15-16). Social media is one of the greatest distractions of this age.  Our slavery to social media is likely to have a dramatic negative effect on our diligence and productivity. It can become an excuse for not accomplishing anything.  It shows the marks of distraction and dissipation.  Too much activity in social media can give the impression of having done something while neglecting what ought to be done. "In all labour there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty."  Are our online interactions more than idle chatter? Or is our life mastered by the empty blather characteristic of so much social media?

How many parents ignore what their children are posting on Facebook and how much of their God-given time they spend on such an arena?  A word to parents, make sure you know what your children are posting and reading on Facebook.  Don't be naïve. Get the facts.  Monitor their contacts. This is vital to training them in the way they should go, (Prov. 22:6).

Facebook can become addictive, just like other substances.  Many will fight tooth and nail to deny that they are addicted to Facebook and should give it up.  Yet, such pleasures can quickly become a curse, and slowly break down one's life.  We are tempted to waste time on Facebook.  A time that could instead be used to study God's Word, pray and spend time with our loved ones and others.  A time that could be better used to uplift people and shine our Light to a world of darkness.  A time that could be used to teach others the gospel.  Likewise, it could be a time that could be used to teach our children temperance, humility, and other godly virtues.  Be careful and be wise about how you spend your time!  The Judge is watching you and will judge you!
  • Facebook Obsession:
According to the book, 50 Signs of Mental Illness, obsessions are "unwanted thoughts that you cannot get out of your mind" [1].  Obsessions are not mere fleeting unwanted thoughts, which everyone has at times. Instead, these thoughts are the type that consumes a person.  While the urge to check Facebook and other social networking sites may not always be severe enough to be called OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), the similarities are striking.

Obsession is also different than addiction, but they are similar.  Addiction is defined as:
"the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, alcohol, or Facebook) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful"
While obsession is:  "a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly:  compelling motivation."

Addiction to Facebook is a routine habit of checking Facebook, not wanting to give it up, denying that you have a problem, and realizing that you spend far too much time on the site.  Addiction can lead one to think about the site while offline, feeling the need to go online at particular times (such as when awakening or before going to bed), and becoming upset if you are not able to check it. Obsession, on the other hand, is the constant thinking about what you will post next, how to improve your posts or profile, what your friends on Facebook are doing, or what you should have said in response to another person's post.  Does Facebook displace other hobbies or activities in your life? Was there something that you were once passionate about, something that once occupied your mind and time?  Was it perhaps your wife and children?  Your job or business?  Do you spend much of your time talking about Facebook and social media to others?  Are you "so obsessed" that you think and talk only about Facebook rather than other social activities?  When you travel, do you find yourself jealous if someone else is using Facebook on a tablet or their phone?  Perhaps you have strange cravings to use Facebook (this is also a sign of addiction).

Facebook obsession is just as real as any other obsession. Withdrawal can result in depression, anger, or lethargy.  The internet has become a place for the downtrodden and the sick to find their place in the world.  Social networking sites provide a haven for those who feel that they do not belong to the outside world.  That being said, it is easy to imagine how sites such as Facebook could become the object of extreme obsession.  Is social media your master?  12 All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12).

How often do you check Facebook? The number varies widely from user to user.  It was reported that the global average was 20 minutes, but in the United States, the number was actually much higher.  Although 20+ minutes is the global average, people in the US spend much more time than that, according to Facebook's internal numbers. In Facebook's Q2 earnings last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the average US consumer spends 40 or more minutes on Facebook per day.  Do you spend forty minutes or more?  Remember, some people bring down the average by going there only for a couple of minutes.  Also, people log on for small periods of time many times throughout the day.  You may spend five minutes at one point, six at another, three during lunch to see if you got any likes, shares four minutes after work or school and ten minutes before bed.  This eats up more time, and one is still thinking about Facebook after one logs off the site.  Just because you close the page doesn't mean your mind is off Facebook.  The things you read and see on the site affect a person, and they cause that person to continue thinking about them throughout the day.  Is that a good thing? Think about it!

One in seven people logs into Facebook daily.  Are you one in seven?  According to various new sources, including Facebook itself, one in seven people in the world logs onto Facebook daily.  That’s right! The entire world is becoming obsessed with Facebook, and many can not go a day without logging in and checking their news feed.  Do you log in daily and for how long?  Can you go a day without Facebook, or is logging in as common to you as sleeping, eating, brushing your teeth, or going to the restroom?  Do you feel compelled to open Facebook in your browser window and see what you are missing out on?  Are you really missing out?  Do you have better things to do?  Have you asked your children what they are learning in school?  When was the last time you went a whole day without watching television, logging onto Facebook, wasting time on the Internet, playing a video game, watching a movie, or using something with a screen other than making a phone call? Even when people go camping they feel the need to bring technology with them to pass the time. For many, nature is not interesting enough on its own anymore. As a person who loves the outdoors, I think that this is quite sad. I also believe that it is quite scary that we live in a world where entertainment and networking have become an idol.

We live in a world where Facebook has become a hiding place and a way for us to escape reality.  Ask yourself: Is this good and healthy for us? Is it wise to run away from reality and put our heads in the sand of Facebook? Is it good that even our children have screens in front of their faces? Is it good for entertainment to become so engrained in our lives? Many of you will probably say that there is nothing wrong with it. But, think for a moment and ask yourself, is your life better now than it was in the past, before Facebook, iPhones, and smartphones became a pacifier?

Many people believe that Facebook does not cause them harm.  It may not seem harmful on its face. However, many users of Facebook spend every free moment checking their phone or computer for status updates.  Many even combine every task with it, whether it be work, cooking, driving, laying in bed, taking a bath, chores, reading, listening to music, or spending "time" with family. If you are this type of person, you are highly likely addicted (or beyond).  So, If you are spending too much time on Facebook, ask the Lord to help you.  I know Facebook is a good place to share the Gospel. But it is so much better to share God with others in person, at church, or perhaps in a personal blog or website.   So if you like to post a lot, why not start a blog or website to share the Truth?  Do you know you can share the gospel by writing letters to prisoners in jail?  You can share the gospel with your own family via e-mail and even in person!  The internet makes many of us scared to interact with others.  Many use Facebook as a way to communicate with other people because they have grown afraid to interact with them in person.  Learn to talk to others face to face!


II.  WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK ABOUT FACEBOOK?

If Facebook is taking time away from God and a life that represents a Christlike existence, then maybe you should consider leaving the site.  Ask yourself: Do you think Jesus would have used Facebook?  If so, would He have spent time on the site 24/7, every day and every second?  If Jesus were on Facebook and sent you a friend request, would you have to stop and think before you accepted Him as a friend?  Would you feel the need to remove all your immodest pictures and those taken in inappropriate places?  Would you go back to recheck your postings to make sure you didn't say anything vulgar, crude or improper?  Would you run an inventory of your favorite movies and music and perhaps delete a bunch of them before you let Jesus on your site?  What about all the games you play?  Quizzes you take?  Copy and paste shares?  If the answer is YES to any of those questions, why not remove them now and show Christ in you?!  The truth is the Lord is watching everything we do or say, including our Facebook pages or walls!  “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”  (Prov. 15:3).  Moreover, if Jesus were on Facebook, He would not have used it to boast, be arrogant, or to glorify Himself.  Spending time on social media to glorify yourself is a massive waste of time! Take heed!

Though God is watching us on Facebook, there are others who are watching us as well.  Does it matter to you?  It should matter!  Why?  Because what others see on your Facebook site affects what they think about you, the church and Christianity.  What if others (who perhaps are not Christians) know I am a Christian but see me posting pictures of me at a nightclub dancing and drinking alcohol?  At the beach wearing immodest and indecent clothes?  What if I post the latest lyrics of a Lady Gaga song and others like hers?  Or perhaps I am running someone down with ugly insults?  I could list a dozen examples where we may be stumbling blocks to others.  But the question is:  What effect is it going to have on those who are still walking in darkness when they look at my site?  They might think you're just a complete hypocrite!  Posting all these things for the world does not honor and glorify God and His church.  It hurts Christ's cause and His church!  Therefore, make an effort to root these things out of your life and heart, (Mt. 5:8; Phil. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:22).  Think about it!


III.  SOME BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR ENGAGEMENT:
  • Practice Regular Check-Ins:  
Since social media can induce “out-of-body experiences” (digital interactions apart from personal presence), it is vital to monitor ourselves when using Facebook or other social media.  Ask yourself: What am I feeling or thinking?  How am I to respond to this world?  Given the hyper connectedness that Facebook offers, it is easy to get swept into data flowing without being mindful of what's happening behind the screen and your soul.  It will be wise to remind ourselves of Jesus' admonition, “18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Luke 8:18). Which of course applies to Facebook as well as to face-to-face circumstances.  It is disturbing to see many Christians posting immodest and provocative pictures of themselves and loved ones on Facebook. This is a two-way street.  Why?  Because there are men who perhaps unconsciously look for provocative images to enjoy and you're providing the stumbling block!  So, if you tend to post such pictures, remember that you ought not to.  You should repent of this.  On the other hand, if your weakness is to fantasize on the provocative images of your friends on Facebook, it will be better for you to not subject yourself to that temptation and stay off of Facebook entirely.  Jesus was crystal clear about this particular sin:
"27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.'"  (Matt. 5:27-32).  
  • Resolve not to go online immediately before bed or immediately after waking up.  
These significant times of the day should be reserved to study and memorize Scripture, meditate upon it, and pray, (Ps. 119).  Why not start the day well and end it well?
  • Practice authentic engagement.  
Facebook caters to narcissism, presenting flattering images and words about themselves that are unreal.  Therefore, we must evaluate the “presentation of self in everyday life” on Facebook.  Ask yourself, does the content I post reflect the character of God?  Are we being ourselves authentically, or are we being hyperactive and hyperconnected pretenders?  Remember God knows the intentions and thoughts of men.  You can deceive man pretending to be something you are not to others (double life) but not God! “14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  (Eccl. 12:14).
  • Try to focus on a few faithful friends. 
Our participation in Facebook can become more meaningful when one picks just a few faithful friends to focus on, instead of distributing one's attention more widely but more superficially.  Keep your other friends, but pay special attention to these souls.  Pray for them.  Then consider if this deepened your relationship with them.
  • Practice a healthy skepticism.  
Facebook may not be the source to fathom someone's character or skills.  The images presented may not be the reality reflected by the person himself. It is unwise to trust someone whom you only know through Facebook, especially given all the scams and frauds out there. Be wise!
  • Don't become a slave to Facebook.
Abstain from Facebook if you find yourself obsessing on it or your interactions are bearing bad fruit in your life as a Christian.  It is easy to lose track of time or not be able to notice how much time you have spent online.  Don't become a slave of social media.  In the end, God will make you accountable for that.  


IV.   THE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF FACEBOOK:

Despite all of the negative aspects of Facebook, it also provides several positive advantages. Facebook is so easy and convenient that it offers a great opportunity for businesses looking for a free way to advertise. Almost everyone is on Facebook, so reaching a large customer base is made simple by creating a profile for your business. It is also a useful tool for sharing pictures, news, and life events with close friends and family. It can be used to open up communication with others that you may have lost touch with over time.  Easy access to past and current friends can often be a positive feature of Facebook. We can now keep in contact with others without having to catch them on the phone or driving across the country to talk to them.

It is a great platform often used by Christians to share the Gospel, their faith, gospel meetings, communicate with other brethren through encouragement, Bible teachings, songs, prayers, links to worthy Bible studies on blogs and websites with mass distribution of Bible teaching on many topics and studies, etc. But one must keep in mind always that social networking should be used to God's glory, (Mark 16:15; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; Matthew 5:14-16) and not the devil's.


CONCLUSION:

Social media provides fast, far-reaching and free interaction with a huge number of people.  Yet one must not allow himself to be intoxicated with this rapidly and easily addicting social world.  While it offers many benefits for interacting with others outside our circle or vicinity and can be used to communicate the Truth in love, (Eph. 4:15), it lacks significant aspects of authentic or real friendship that can only be found through face to face experience.  It is no substitute for personal interaction with the local church and with the family.  However, if used wisely, intentionally, prayerfully and with restraint, it can be a blessing to our social relations that might not be possible otherwise.

Whatever you do in this sphere, remember the impact that it has on you, the church and our Lord. Choose to use social media to the glory of God. Remember what is at stake, (Mk. 9:43-50), and that heaven and hell hang in some measure upon the choices you make while floating in the electronic ether. If your online engagement is dragging your soul down to hell, then it would be more profitable for you to cut the cables and cast away the wi-fi than to be up-to-date with all the latest trends and technology even as you descend into the pit.

We must be wise and reflect on what we engage in with social media and how we go about it; the contributions we enjoy and links that we click on; what patterns or trends we follow.  Many cannot train and restrain their appetites on Facebook.  Are you seeking what is right and delighting in what is pure, or do you find yourself reveling in what is empty, lascivious, malicious and cruel? Do you enjoy the exposures and failures of others? Are you hooked on gossip? Are your appetites and contributions Christ-like? If they are, you will help starve those who trade in the filth and frivolity of their market. We must choose not to partake in such things: we cannot afford to wait until the options are immediately before us on the screen, (Pr.11:27; 21:10; 17:4;18:8 cf. 26:22; 18:15).

Do not allow social media to lead you into sin under any circumstance, (Matt. 5:29).  When it is put into the hands of sinful and immoral people, it can be used for a host of sinful behaviors:  bullying, sinful relationships, sexual perversion, worldliness, bad company that may lead you astray.  
As Christians, we must deny worldly lusts, (Tit. 2:12).  We are to be godly in speech and behavior. Show no tolerance for anyone posting offensive/sinful material on your wall.  No exceptions! Delete anything that is offensive and remove “friends” who refuse to repent and be godly.  Guard your influence, (1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 2:6-8; 1 Peter 2:11-12). If you're prone to be fed with these sins, pray to God to help you and repent!  Think before you post.  Don't be given to impulse, (Prov. 14:29). Don't talk about private and shameful things publicly on Facebook, (Eph. 5:12).  Control your tongue!  Remember words can hurt, disrupt and destroy, (Prov. 12:18).  Don't use social media for unprofitable arguments (politics, sports, and even religion), (Prov. 18:2).  Instead of arguing with fools, invest your time and energy into something more productive and worthwhile.
  
Remember that Facebook can also be a dangerous place for gossip.  Be careful!  Given the nature of Facebook, it is easy for gossip to spread quickly and widely, that is, repeating unfavorable things about others for no good reasons.  Talking behind their backs.  It is sinful, and one must repent of it! Paul includes gossip in his list of sins, (Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20).  Why not retreat from words entirely? (Eccl. 6:11; 5:1-2).  The same is true for pictures.  Many Facebook users recklessly post pictures of themselves in immodest and narcissistic poses publicly.  Even innocent pictures can be misunderstood given the ambiguous nature of the image.

Remember that a life of constant posting, texting, messaging, playing games and scrolling down is not an abundant life in the Lord.  This is a life that is passing away into futility. It provides a high definition that is as false as the one on a television screen that fades away soon and that calls us back for more and more.  A life that is constantly living a high connectedness is not a life of giving or taking up our cross and following Him.  I am not suggesting that we completely unplug because there are also great blessings that we can gain through these communications of social media, but they must not take over our lives. Unfortunately, social media networking can give us a false sense of appreciation rather than the joy that comes from personal contact. Don't value social media interactions more than real-life relationships. Our culture is busy (almost compulsively) connecting to other sources that are not necessarily people. We seem to know so little about those who are among us, those in front of us in our everyday life.  A life of constant connectedness through the Internet does not give us a healthy sense of security, relaxation, and joy. It is living in the fullness of Christ that helps us find the life that Jesus speaks of in the writings of John.

Sometimes it is necessary to just turn off our computers, phones, IPads, tablets, Androids, and iPhones. We will sincerely regret spending too much time with such things if we spend too little time with those that God has put in front of us.  Do you not know that many souls need our attention? Do you not know that God is offering us many opportunities to open the door of the Gospel for someone to escape from the weight of sin? Who knows but what God may be taking advantage of someone's distress to draw us closer to them?  Lest we forget, these people are not disruptions of our private online reveries. They are opportunities and open doors sent by our God that allow us to proclaim His Truth!

Though technology is ever changing, God's Word remains the same!  I'm thankful to God for this! Yes, I want to take full advantage of the internet and all this new technology with all its advancements and upgrades, but praise be to God that I don't have to deal with such regarding His inspired Word!  It doesn't matter to me since I know that today's new ideas aren't really that new, (Ecc. 1:9) and that soon they are replaced by something else.  God's Word will always be there! 
Remember that the most profound aspects of church and family life are not possible online, since they are embodied.  It is impossible for one to offer “the right hand of fellowship” through an avatar.  Whatever our social media involvement may be, we must not let it darken or eclipse our God-ordained structures of the local church.

So is your engagement on Facebook and other social media an expression of faith or folly?  Do not be drawn away from God and His kingdom of righteousness on Facebook!  Always live your faith to the maximum!  (2 Cor. 5:7).  Is your life centered on something else less stable?  Think about it!

May our Lord help us to connect our lives fully with Him and with those that He has placed in our way to bless them.  May our Lord remove every distraction that blinds us to seeing the true God. May our God remove all the false layers of distraction so that we might see and hear His voice.  May our God help us to declutter our souls of distractions that rob us of everlasting life. May we take advantage of all the open doors He places before us to bring peace, joy, and salvation.  May we first seek His kingdom and His righteousness all the days of our life, (Matt. 6:33).

Luci