Five Cautions about Facebook

Although I’ve been cutting back, I’m still quite involved in social media, especially Facebook. My husband, Keith, is not. He and I were discussing Facebook one day and he made some wise observations that prompted me to write a blog post. Here’s are some of the thoughts we’ve had about what Facebook allows and encourages its users to do–which may or may or may not be wise.

Facebook makes it “okay” to: share an opinion about anything with just about anyone, even if it isn’t the wisest thing to do.

Is it wrong to share opinions? It depends. The environment of Facebook makes it easy to share, but also easily overlook applying a filter of, “Is this necessary to share?” “Am I becoming too defensive?” “Am I always right?”

Challenge: When tempted to give an opinion, stop and ask, “Is it necessary for me to share this? How can I share graciously?” “Will my opinion help others?”

Facebook makes it “okay” to: advertise details of your life, sometimes to the extreme.

We’re amazed by how many people provide a blow-by-blow of their trip out of town while their home probably sits empty. Young moms mention that their husbands are out of town. I’ve seen more selfies than I’ll ever need to (and taken a few myself.) While it’s fun to know what’s going on with my acquaintances, I’m not sure how much wisdom there is in knowing so many details.

Challenge: The next time you are tempted to take a “selfie,” stop for a moment to reconsider how often you do this. If the majority of wall photos are “selfies,” there could be a lack of balance. Sometimes it’s more fun to let someone else share a photo of you instead.

An interesting thing happened to me some time ago in regard to selfies. I had the fun opportunity of of having a photo taken with a well-known figure. I would be inclined to share that type of thing on social media, and have done so since. However, for this particular occasion, I felt God did not want me to put it on my wall. I admit that it was a challenge to obey that prompting!

Later that day, my photo with the individual got on my wall anyway when someone else who had also been at the event, shared it and tagged me. I had to smile. God was teaching me through this. I had obeyed in this one small thing, and He still allowed me to share the experience anyway…just in that someone else blessed me with it, not me.

Facebook Makes it “okay” to: eavesdrop

Eavesdropping used to be frowned upon. In person, it is still considered rude to listen in on conversations that don’t directly involve you. But on Facebook, all bets are off. We can lurk and watch conversations, never participating. We can see what mutual friends put on each other’s walls. (Has it ever felt strange to watch a conversation between two friends?) Would I go up to listen in on their conversation in a coffee shop even if I knew each of them personally?

Challenge:  Think twice about entering conversations that are obviously between two of your friends. Does it really involve you? If you would not walk up and insert yourself into their private conversation at a restaurant, don’t do it on Facebook either. (Note: I’m talking about commenting on posts where one person directly puts something on another person’s wall, or is having an obvious semi-private conversation. Commenting on a person’s status update is different. They are inviting you to the conversation in that case. I also don’t mean that you shouldn’t greet others in public. I’m referring to interrupting the course of their conversation.)

Facebook makes it “okay” (well, maybe a better word is “easy”) to: be a jerk behind a screen.

We’ve all seen this in action. You wonder if that person would have said that mean, rude, or crude thing to your face. There is less accountability for words when the face can’t be seen.

Challenge: I hope most of my readers aren’t the “jerk behind the screen” but if you’ve ever written a comment more harshly than you would have said it to someone’s face, maybe an apology is in order.

[callout]Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, that fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 1:29 ESV[/callout]

Facebook makes it “okay” to: rub it in.

Facebook allows us to share the highlights of our lives, often skipping the frustrations or low points (unless someone uses Facebook to air complaints and dirty laundry—we’ve seen that, too.) Have you ever scrolled through the news feed and sighed because so many of your friends were going to the beach or leaving on a cruise or having dinner with their clique of friends or got to meet someone “important?” It can get discouraging and open the door for a lot of comparison.

The thing is, as much as Facebook opens some doors, it only allows for a one-dimensional portrait. We share only what we want others to see or know. We want to feel inclusion, sympathy or admiration, so that can affect what we share.

Challenge: Consider how often you share details of trips, purchases, or opportunities. It’s reasonable to share something you are proud of or happy about, but do it with discretion and balance it with a genuine interest in others. For example, how many of your posts are directly about you and how you are feeling or about yet another accomplishment of your child? Balance your “here’s what’s going on with me” updates with posts that provide info and encouragement that serves others or that starts a meaningful conversation.

Recommendation: If you, like I, find yourself tempted too much by social media, there are tools you can use to restrict your time. I’ve been experimenting with a Chrome extension called “Stayfocused.” Using it, I set up the amount of time I wanted to allot myself to be on Facebook during the day. For example, since I often work from home, I set up a time limit to adhere to between 9 and 5. Whenever I log in, OR whenever I click a link to another page from Facebook, it docks my time. The extension is a tough taskmaster. You have to log completely out AND leave the entry page as well as close out any pages you linked to from Facebook in order for the clock to stop. Also, you cannot change the settings the same day you run out of time. This extension has helped me budget my time on Facebook and keeps me from leaving Facebook open in the background during the day.

At this time, I only use this extension for my daytime hours on my home desktop. I still have to be personally disciplined because I CAN skirt the system by using other devices or browsers. However, it still helps me be more mindful of the time I spend on Facebook during the day.

Question: How about you? What have you learned about Facebook? Visit the blog to comment or press the comment button if you are already there!hope leaves



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