I had originally thought I would write about a completely different topic today, but interestly enough a friend of mine on facebook posted a comment that social sites like facebook make her feel like she's in high school again - "friend request, friend blocking, popularity by numbers, relationship status" - says it "gives her a belly ache!" Sound familiar to anyone?
Needless to say, this has prompted some pretty good discussion about facebook and the time we spend on it, dealing with our insecurities and possibly hurt feelings, and perhaps whether or not we should be on it at all.
I started using facebook about a year ago (February '09) and I must admit that I was a "junkie" for about a month - maybe longer. I was amazed at how quickly people found me and I could look up long lost college friends and see what they looked like, what they were doing for a living, how many kids they have, where they vacationed, etc., etc., etc... I quickly realized the friends who posted a status for hurting their big toe or getting a cup of coffee, and the friends who rarely checked their facebook page or updated their status.
My feelings were hurt when a co-worker friend of my husband's requested me as his friend, only to delete me several weeks later. I wondered what I had done or not done to deserve to be deleted. After all, he sent me the friend request! I noticed a couple of others were no longer my "friends" and then after doing a little research, discovered that they had left facebook altogether which made me feel a little better. And then there's just that old junior high school feeling that creeps back when you feel left out when seeing photos of other friends getting together, or see comments going to and from between other friends on facebook of how much they enjoyed spending time with each other. Maybe you have experienced a situation where your daughter finds out that many of her friends were invited to a party that she wasn't, simply from logging on.
I guess my point is this...is it really "healthy" for us to know everything about each other's business? Or should we all just "get a life"?
I can only speak for myself, but I have spent entirely too much time on facebook over the last year. I have also been going through a spritual "drought" in my life and started a Bible study entitled "Downpour" by James MacDonald last week. The study is based on a verse in Hosea, "He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3 There are many things that have contributed to my personal spiritual drought and I am taking responsiblity for those things. I have made the excuse for too long that I am "burnt out." We do go through periods of burn out, but usually they are directly related to our own choices that we have made. However, we make choices on where to spend our time and energy - whether it's on the couch watching TV, on the computer looking at facebook, or getting alone with our Savior in fellowship and prayer.
The Downpour study also has a song that goes with it. The first part of the lyrics go like this:
"here where self and sin and sadness/have displaced the oil of gladness"
The very first line gets my attention because what ultimately causes the "oil of gladness" to be displaced? SELF! Again, I can only speak for mySELF, but I have been so wrapped up in mySELF this past year. When we focus on SELF (and pardon me, but facebook is all about our SELFs!) we miss the boat. Turning away from God and looking to ourselves, is always the beginning of sin, which inevitably leads to sadness.
The good news is that "the Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly that God wants to revive our relationship with Him. Revival is renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline. He wants to wake us up, to refresh our faith - to fire us up again." (James MacDonald, "Downpour") I am praying that I will get fired up again!
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." Psalm 119:37 This too is my prayer.
Please do not misunderstand what I'm saying. I still like facebook just fine. There are a lot of good things that can be done through facebook. Old friends can find each other, families can stay in touch more easily, and Christians can use it as a witnessing tool for "lost" friends. I have even used it to promote my book and even have a "fan" page for "God Keeps His Promises." But like anything, used in excess, it can be damaging.
Below are some changes that I plan to make:
1) Limit the time I spend on facebook. I have no doubt that is has become a bit of an idol for me and therefore I will only be logging on no more than twice a day. It is also a good idea to check the clock when you sign in, or 10 minutes can quickly turn into 30! (I know this from experience!)
2) Look to Jesus first to fill my relationship needs. As a stay-at-home mom, the house can get pretty quiet during the day while the kids are at school and it's very tempting to log on to facebook or even check my email multiple times a day! Leaving the TV on Fox News is also a way to create some noise, but really what's wrong with the silence? How will I ever hear from God (of course, not audibly!) if I'm not giving myself some "quiet time?" We were made to have a relationship with our Creator, and I'm so guilty of tuning him out during the day.
3) Am I using facebook for God's glory, or am I using it to promote mySELF?
I would love to hear some comments on this one!
For His Glory,