Why I use Facebook

A Christian friend recently forwarded an e-mail she’d received from a Christian friend of hers, arguing against Christians using Facebook. Having written a reply, I thought it might be of interest to others, and possibly a prompt for further discussion. So I’ve reproduced what I wrote here, without names, of course. Let’s begin with the message from the friend of the friend.

Facebook is a secular and money-making scheme, but it has a much darker side, as this posting proves.

I believe Christians who join Facebook and use it are wrong. They are displaying information that should not be there, and are part of a pathetic movement that brings all kinds of sinners together. Indeed, Facebook is a regularly-trawled website by paedophiles and fraudsters. It has also been used for violence, as someone I know has experienced.

If you are a Christian, play safe! Don’t join these pathetic social communication sites.

If you need to contact someone or let them know how you are – use the telephone or ordinary email.

By being in Facebook you are part of a worldwide monitoring system, as the censorship proves.

As a believer, I’ve spent some time considering the usefulness of Facebook (FB), and whether it’s suitable for Christians.

Firstly, it’s a method of communication. It provides another channel for contact with others. Meeting face-to-face, phoning, e-mailing, writing letters, blogging, Tweeting and FB are all different methods, and each has its own benefit. If I want to discuss a university project with my team, we’ll send messages through FB. If I want to ask someone a question, but don’t have the time to spend on a phone conversation, I might text them. For those who are not on FB, I’ll e-mail information. FB allows me to do a live chat, send a message, or post something on my wall for everyone or a select few. Overall, it’s the most useful way of contact.

Secondly, there’s the social side, whereby we share photos, links and news with friends and family. We decide who sees them. If there’s something we don’t want anyone to know, we don’t put it on FB. If you post sensitive information to the world, it’s your fault if you get scammed. If anyone’s unsure about using FB, they can get advice from someone who does know.

Here’s the thing. There’s a group of people who’ve held back from joining FB, but who now feel left out. They attack FB and everyone who uses it, yet have never tried it. It’s just not good enough to point to a FB addict to put us off, any more than we could point to a glutton as evidence that food should be avoided. Do you know that the last two people (Christians) I spoke to about FB were very hostile about it, to the point of being irrational, and said they’d never join it, as it was ‘pathetic’, the exact word used by your Christian contact. Notice how your friend uses the word twice. Yet there’s no reasons given that stand up to examination. Let’s have a think about them:

1. ‘a secular and money-making scheme’

It’s free to use, for a start. Yes, it’s owned by unbelievers, just like our phone and e-mail providers who, the last time I checked, don’t give me these services for free.

2. ‘displaying information that should not be there’

The user puts whatever information up he or she wants. And it’s their business what they share with others.

3. ‘a pathetic movement’

It’s not a movement, it’s a mode of communication. Using the word ‘pathetic’ is pointless, as there’s no explanation to back it up.

4. ‘brings all kinds of sinners together’

It does. All kinds of sinners like Paul and his Christian friends. Oh, we also use it to contact unbelievers who we know too, like workmates and family, who we can witness to if we like. Being ‘with’ them on FB is only as good or bad as being with them in person, like in the workplace.

5. ‘trawled…by paedophiles and fraudsters’

The whole internet is. If you’re so concerned, don’t use the internet at all. Even e-mail has the potential to be used by criminals and perverts.

6. ‘used for violence’

You can’t use FB for violence, which is an act against the person’s body. This doesn’t make any sense. If it means something was done as a result of a FB post, that’s not the site’s fault.

7. ‘play safe…don’t join’

Again, why would you use e-mail then, which can be hacked? Play safe if you’re on FB, yes, by not posting sensitive information.

8. ‘use the telephone or ordinary email’

This is the same argument used by people who were reluctant to embrace e-mail (‘Why can’t everyone just use the phone?’)

9. ‘part of a worldwide monitoring system’

If the CIA wants to see the pictures of our Scotland holiday last year, let them. Remember, though, they can just tap your phone or intercept your e-mails anyway if they want any other information.

Contact

Facebook is simply a way of keeping in contact with people you want to. Apart from collaborating on uni projects, I create Christian events and invite people, write scriptures on the wall, get into good discussions with unbelievers, promote evangelistic events, share photos with friends who are too far away to visit, keep up to date both with people’s problems and their good news, and campaign for good causes. (Others use it to play games occasionally, and that’s okay too, as long as it doesn’t take up a lot of their time.) We can even find like-minded believers on the other side of the world, and offer fellowship to the ones who feel isolated.

This believer here seems to have not much idea about FB, and their use of polemical words like ‘pathetic’ shows their opposition is mostly irrational, fed by certain websites. Everyone I know who’s decided to start using FB has not regretted it. If someone plays games on it, like Solitaire, and gets addicted, they need help from God, and might even need to get off FB. But that’s a lot different from saying everyone who is able to use it responsibly, and to great benefit, is stupid.

This world is corrupt. The people who run big social networking sites are part of that world system. So are the phone and e-mail providers. So are the people that you buy your petrol and newspapers from. So are the people who’s food you eat. And one day, FB might get so intrusive that Christians leave. Whatever happens, FB won’t be around forever. A better site will spring up, and within a few months everyone will be on that. Eventually, FB will die. Meanwhile, Christians will continue to use whatever means are available to them for doing their work, both for God and their livelihood, and for the general well-being that comes from interacting with people.

Facebook is a temporary phenomenon. MySpace used to rule the roost, now it’s FB. Someone else will take over before long. I can say this, though: the social network has been one of the most useful tools I’ve ever come across, and I intend to take full advantage of it.

Advertisements

~ by Animus on February 21, 2011.

One Response to “Why I use Facebook”

  1. Thanks Animus, some good comments there. Sometimes I feel that some Christians can miss the point of all this – of course I don’t want to look at some of the stuff on FB, but I have made some godly contacts on there, and learned much from the comments and web links, and from the interactive conversations –

    Yes there are some Christians who are harsh on there, and one of the criticisms is that unbelievers then can be put off, as they witness the “arguments” between believers on there.

    I saw some comments once that were in my news feed of a Christian friend, and she had commented on something an unbeliever had said on a worldly issue, and the person used a few swear words on there, (not directed at her, but just in general) which I didn’t want to see on my pages, so I just blocked the news feed from this person for a while, as I didn;t want Christians to have to see all that, or others who were watching really.

    You are right though, emails and internet can be “bad” if used in the wrong way or in the wrong hands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: