Is Facebook Evil?

Facebook is not evil.

Let’s get that out of the way.

It is a website.

It is just a website.

It used to be, in a different life, that when I wanted to talk to someone, I would use this weird contraption called a phone.  It was an interesting device.  One would pick up this handle and put it to your face.  One side was for talking, and the other side was for listening.  On the base of the device, there were a series of numbers, from zero to nine.  There was a dial, with holes in the dial for your finger.  You would “dial” a series of numbers, that were assigned to each house you wanted to talk to, and viola – within seconds, another phone would ring at that house.  The occupant of that home would pick up their phone handle, and you could hold a conversation with them as if they were in your living room.

Yes I am being silly.  But there is a point here.  The world has changed.   Today, many of us no longer call our friends and family using our phones anymore.  Why, many of us don’t even have traditional phones anymore, preferring cell phones that we can take with us everywhere.  Even those phones are no longer used to speak to anyone anymore, since many of us have email and text messaging capabilities on them.  When someone asks you if you have “spoken” to so and so, how many times do you say yes when in reality, you have communicated with them solely through text, email, or the dreaded Facebook?

Technology is perceived differently by different people.  There are some people in this world that embrace technology.  They buy the latest gadget as soon as it is out.  They know all of the features.  They use texting, email, and yes Facebook.  But then there are others who – well – get left behind.  The world moves too fast for these people.  As such, they rebel.  They refuse to adopt the latest communication medium.  If you need to contact them – well – you may just have to pick up an actual phone and call them.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
–Exodus 20:3-5

Let’s take a look at this from a Christian perspective.  In Exodus, God tells us very clearly we are to have no other Gods before Him.  He is not just talking about Pagan or Polytheistic worship.  He is also talking about loving something so much, it takes the place of God.  How does this relate to Facebook?  Well, let me be clear.  Facebook addiction is no different from any other addiction.  We have all seen people so preoccupied with texting, they can’t stop for even a few seconds to have a conversation with you.  The same can be true of Facebook.  We all know people who always seem to be on Facebook, either chatting, playing games, or constantly checking and updating their statuses.  This is obviously an issue, no less an addiction than alcohol or drugs.

I have had a Facebook account for quite a long time.  In fact, when I first created my Facebook account, none of my friends and family were on it yet.  Within a few years, I saw this communication medium grow from a mildly amusing website, to something most of my family and friends use as their primary method of communication.  I saw my friends list grow and grow, until I realized I had a large number of “friends” that I had never even met.

I also started to see the dangers in using this medium.  I saw friends and family members get into arguments over Facebook.  Debating political and social issues became a common thing, and people started to get nasty with each other.  I have to tell you I was one of them.  It was so easy to just say whatever you wanted, knowing nobody could interrupt you.  I began to see photos of people in compromising situations.  I started to realize that some of the photos I had posted of my family and friends, I had done so without asking their permission.  I had no right to do that, but Facebook does not stop you from doing it.  I also started to see articles in the news about people being fired from their jobs, because of things they had said or pictures they had posted on Facebook.

No I still do not think Facebook is evil.  But here is my take on it.  Facebook makes it really easy to do things you would not do otherwise.  When you think about saying something derogatory to someone, and the person is standing there, looking at you, most of us stop and think before we do it.  There is something about having to look someone straight in the eye that tells our brain we should think before we speak.  Facebook eliminates that.  You can’t see the look on someone’s face when you insult them on Facebook.  You cannot be interrupted either.  So the words flow.  Everybody is brave and says what they think, when they are hiding behind a computer screen,  And as a result, I have seen relationships damaged, jobs lost, and a lot of harm come from interactions through this medium.

With that said, Facebook has also done a great deal of good.  I see many people able to connect with long-lost family and friends.  Businesses, charities, and faith-based groups are able to communicate through Facebook in a way they never could before, reaching people who would have otherwise never known about them.

So what is my conclusion?

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
–Matthew 5:29-30

Jesus Christ did not have Facebook back then, but how well he knew the temptations of this world.  It is very easy to take something that can be a great communication medium and turn it into an addiction, allowing it to destroy us.  Just like the food addict that can take something necessary for survival and abuse it, Facebook is something that can be a wonderful tool, but also our undoing.

A few months ago, when I realized that Facebook was no longer something I was using in a way that honored God, I closed my account.  It was something I needed to do.  For about three months, I did not have a Facebook account.  I am sure my friends and family thought I was being silly.

Yet it was the reason this blog was created.

Facebook had become my way of communicating to the outside world, yet it was such a poor way of doing so.  I realized that I could reach so many more people in other, more positive ways.  After my three months hiatus, I re-opened my account, but I no longer use it as a primary form of communication, nor do I engage in debates with my friends and family there, as I know they all too often serve the wrong purpose.  I reduced my friends list from 160, to less than 20, preferring to keep only family and a select few friends. When I do use it to communicate, I do so only to reach out in a positive way.

Often throughout the last year, I have thanked God for the many blessings He has given me.  In my prayers, I ask God to give me the strength and courage to live my life as He intends, to follow His plan for my life.  As each day passes, He reveals His plan to me.  I am very grateful for that.  I truly believe that using Facebook, and any communication medium in an honorable way, is one part of that plan that He has revealed to me.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

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9 thoughts on “Is Facebook Evil?

  1. Nice post…like anything in this world,FB too is a mixed blessing…Its a good way to kp in touch as long as you know where to draw the line.However some of my friends also tell me of how it can also be addictive,esply the FB games!Well,what is important just like you mentioned in the post is BALANCE and not allowing anything else to become our idol.Its more a case of personal preference!
    Cheers,
    Sparkylaurie
    PS:Just for the record,its now exactly 1 year since I closed my FB a/c after connecting with long lost friends and getting their email ids and contact details.

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    • Thanks for your response, Sparky! I re-opened my account for two reasons. One, all of my friends and family use facebook to annouce parties and get togethers, so not having it kept me out of the loop. Second, it is a good way to promote my blog. So now I use it in a much more positive way.

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  2. I know so many people who struggle with this. My MIL stopped using Facebook for the exact reasons you mentioned. She eventually came back, but now has a Bible verse taped to her computer screen, reminding her to keep her focus on God and what is good in His sight. (I cannot remember the exact verse right now.)

    I use Facebook a lot but I made a commitment not to engage in political arguments after I was involved in some heated debates with people I dearly love. It got ugly and almost ruined the relationship. Over politics. It was ridiculous. Now, it’s cute pictures of the kids for the family back home, blog promotion (the necessary evil) and light-hearted status updates only. Thankfully, most of my friends aren’t the insulting, political, or obscene type. Any who are get hidden (not deleted because I don’t want that hullabaloo, either.)

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    • Thanks for your comments. It does seem like you and I have had similar experiences with Facebook. It is interesting that you mentioned that you hide someone instead of in-friending, because you want to avoid issues. I remember specifically un-friending someone that I really don’t speak to that often anymore, and getting a message from them later because they were offended. It is so weird. It is like un-friending means you are disowning them or something. That was one of the things that started turning me off about Facebook. It really is just a website, but for many people it has become something much more. So now, whenever you think of un-friending someone that you really don’t have a close relationship with anyway, you have to worry about it. In the outside world, you probably would not talk to that person more than one every hundred years or so, but on Facebook, you are best buddies?

      With that said, I do believe that Facebook can be used positively and is a good way to reach people you would not normally.

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  3. Pingback: 3 Simple rules to life | An American Point of View

  4. Great post! I actually got into a pretty serious (face-to-face) discussion with a family member about this very thing a while ago when they asked why I never post anything “serious” on my Facebook account. I couldn’t really understand that and asked in return if there was another Facebook I didn’t know about. After all, it is just a social website to connect with family in friends, right? 😉

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    • UnlockingLifesPotential:

      Thanks for your comments! Yes I have also had conversations about this. When I tell my friends and family that I am concerned with the loss of privacy involved with Facebook, I get weird looks. Good to know I am not alone.

      Just today I read about the latest feature on Facebook, a face recognition feature for photos that suggests “tagging” of photos. As with other “features”, they decided to make it automatic unless you specifically opt out, rather than making it only available if you opt in. Since I work in the web IT field, I am fully aware that these practices are frowned upon in our industry, yet Facebook continues to violate standard policies with regard to privacy, and people ignore it.

      Go figure…

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  5. This is so true. The arguments, the fights, the right out ugliness. I use Facebook but I try to keep out of the line of potential problems.

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