Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Facebook, the good, the bad, and the ugly

  Facebook is here to stay. Of all of the social networks out  there, it seems to be the most popular. Many people sign up and use it, and many don't, and for a variety of reasons. Some people think it is a waste of time. Others just think its a bad thing and you should stay away from it. So is it good or bad, a waste of time, or something worth using?

   I signed up for an account in 2006, if I remember correctly, and didn't do much with the site for a few years, but now it is something I use a lot. There is a possibility of bad, but there is also so much possibility for good. So from my perspective

The good:

1) New friends: I have made a lot of new friends. Sure, among the current 407 people on my friends list, there are some I never interact with, but I have still made some new friends via this social network. And I mean real friends.

Just last night, I talked to a great newer friend of mine from Florida who struggles with the same issue that I do, but is so far ahead of me spiritually and otherwise. And he isn't the only one. I have made friends with other such guys and women via groups on Facebook where I can be real, ask for prayer, admit where I am and when I need help, and this great group of guys are there for me.

2) Old friends: I have reconnected with people I haven't seen or heard from in years. Sure, there are always people you'd rather not hear from like ex-girlfriends, but there are a lot I have been happy to renew acquaintance with.

3) Relatives: Along with that, I have been able to keep connected and in contact more with relatives and even people I attend church with.

4) Encouragement: I mentioned the groups I am part of where I receive a lot of help and encouragement, but Facebook goes beyond that. People post encouraging sayings and quotes like the one above, stories, songs, and all kinds of things to encourage and brighten your day.

5) Authors: I love to read, and have been honored to be added as friends to some Christian author's personal Facebook pages. It has given me an inside look at their lives and personalities, and I don't take it for granted, but consider it a privilege.

6) Advertisement: I post links to blog posts on Facebook, and there are groups to advertise things you have to sell.

7) News: Facebook is a great place to pass along news, not to be confused with gossip.

8) Groups: I mentioned them already, but there are all kinds of groups to join on Facebook. I am in groups with people who read the kind of books I read, the kind of music I listen to, the same struggles I have, and more..... it is cool to chat with people interested in what you are interested in.

The bad:

1) Waste of time: As much good as there can be, it can also be a waste of time. Contrary to popular belief, I am not on it as much as it would appear. I do have it open when I am on the computer and often comment or reply to a comment while I am doing something else.... like writing this blog post :)

If it is taking us away from other things we should be doing, we need to cut back. Not necessarily cut out, but cut back.

2) Gossip: Yes, it is wonderful to find out news on Facebook, but it can also be a place to gossip.

3) Stuff you're not into: It happens. People post things you get tired of hearing about. A popular complaint is politics. I don't post that stuff as much as I used to, but I still do some, and I see people complain. But if people only posted things everyone on their friends list wanted to see, we wouldn't post much.

I hate sports, and get tired of seeing stuff about sports, but it is a free country. I am not an animal lover and weary of people going on and on about their animals and how we need to stop animal cruelty..... that's all and good, but most of those people never mention stopping abortion, which is way more important than animals.....not that I for animal cruelty.

And there are other things I don't care about, but I can't have people bow to my wishes and avoid  things I am not into in. That is life. We are all different.

4) Bad photos and memes: I often see pictures and words that I'd rather not see, and wish there was a way to block some words, the "F-word" particularly.

5) Narcissism: I read this in a book, and the author had a point. Facebook can make us narcissistic. Some people, usually women (sorry, but its true!) are always posting selfies.... and why? To get comments and "likes". And how often do we go back to see how many people "liked" a comment, joke, or picture we posted, and are disappointed if no one or not many have "liked" it? I am guilty.

6) Friends: There is a danger of becoming so involved in social networks and our friends on them, that we avoid the people around us. Ever around someone who instead of paying attention to you, kept texting someone else or was on Facebook? It isn't a good feeling.

7) Romantic attachments: I don't know of anyone personally this happens to, but it does happen. One or both parties are married and get too friendly on Facebook and private chats, and next thing it becomes an on line affair, physical affair, or both.

The ugly:

1) Meanness: I am not innocent in this. It is easier to shoot off things without considering the impact and tick people off or make them feel bad. It doesn't help when you're outspoken. And yeah, I have been on the receiving end of that a few times.

I had someone not like my stance on a bill coming up for vote here in Ohio. This person got personal with their remarks that was attacking my character, so I deleted them and blocked them. So they came into the store where I worked and told me off in front of 2 co-workers. One asked if I was OK after the person left, the other said "if that is how people act from your church, I sure don't want to go there." Which brings me to my next point:

2) Un-friending people: I am trying to do better at this than I used to, though I don't think I have done it much. Someone posts something you don't like - i.e. for some weird reason you like Obama and I post anti-Obama stuff, so you delete me. (That has happened to me at least 4 times). Or someone says something mean to you, so you delete them. Imagine doing that in real life. Going up to someone and saying "you're not my friend anymore because.....".

Now there is a time to un-friend people. If they are so offensive or use bad language. I'll give a good example: A few months ago, a young man I'll call "Jon" added me, to my surprise for a few reasons. Right off the bat, he posted things with the "F-word" scattered throughout it. And then when I posted a couple of articles about the dangers of marijuana, he commented with some outlandish comments, so I deleted him. It was not going to be a profitable friendship.

There is an option where you can un-follow someone. They remain your friend and you can go on their page to see what they post, but their posts will no longer appear in your news feed. That might be better than "un-friending" someone for bad reasons. It isn't fun to be on the reverse side. A story about that:

Recently, I posted the link to a story where someone was being applauded for something sinful. I posted the link and said "sad that people like this are made into heroes for doing what the Bible says is wrong." The real heroes are those who serve God and live for Him instead of their own desires". A college friend commented and said I seemed to have a lot of anger and bitterness towards this group of people and wrote a long comment lambasting me for what I thought was a tame comment.

I was on my way to church (not driving) and wanted to delete the comment, but couldn't on my cell. So I message her and tell her I struggle with the issue myself, but God has helped me a lot, that I posted that because I weary of people being cheered on for giving into what I am fighting against. We had an interesting back and forth, with me asking her to please delete it now that I had explained myself..... and basically bared my soul to her, but she wouldn't. When I got home, I decided to just reply to her comment and let it stand, but she had done the un-friend thing. I was like, really?! Over that comment? Wow.

I read over what I had posted, and still felt it was not hateful at all, especially given that she now knew of my personal struggle, so I left it and moved on, though I felt bad she had to delete me. But it happens.

The thing is, and I have been guilty of it in the past, though I have not always been where I should have been spiritually when I said some things: Christians should still be Christians on line. We don't have a leave of Christianity when we go on line..... but too many of us do that. Yours truly included, though God is helping me with that. Part of it is, too many of us don't like being disagreed with, and a lot of us don't have to deal with that much in off-line life. On line..... there are a lot of people who disagree. I just had a couple of people disagree with my last blog post, but they were nice about it and I wasn't offended.

And some people just like to argue. Social networking opens up a new whole world of people for argumentative people to have fun arguing in,

No one is ever always right, except God. And we need to get along better with each other whether it be on line or in real life.

There is a lot more that could be said, and more points that could be made in each category, but I already wrote more than I intended, and I need to go see how many pictures and comments have been "liked" while I was blogging.......

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, Mark! I agree with all of your points and have also seen examples like the ones you mentioned that happen. You have been an encouragement to me lately by the things you've posted of how God is working in your life and helping you! Thanks for your honesty--that's a trait we all need more of, I think! Keep up your courage--God does have a hope and a future for us if we follow Him. (Yes, I liked that post about that verse!) Sincerely, Sharon Knight