"Has [Facebook] become a graven image? Have you confused its reality with real reality?"

R.C. Sproul, Jr. asks Should Christians Be on Facebook?

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree that it seems a bit disingenuous to be upset about privacy settings on FB. I mean... it's the internet. What on earth are you going to post on the internet that you want kept private?

I would also agree that there is a danger in becoming too nostalgic. I see anger expressed in inappropriate ways. I have friends who've confessed to an unhealthy preoccupation with FB. But while there is an element of 'distance' that online communications allow, is the internet/FB really an alternative 'un'reality? Is Facebook Gnostic? That one has me a bit puzzled.

A. Carpenter's picture

I think I may use this as a bulletin insert next Sunday.

Faith is obeying when you can't even imagine how things might turn out right.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan R wrote:
But while there is an element of 'distance' that online communications allow, is the internet/FB really an alternative 'un'reality? Is Facebook Gnostic? That one has me a bit puzzled.

I share your puzzlement. I can't see how it's any more unreal than a friend who lives at a distance or in a foreign country that you never see and communicate with only by phone (or way back, by letter).

I can see the issues of people being *too* genuine (i.e. posting whatever they think or feel without any filter), but from what I have seen from my friends, and from my kids and their friends, what is communicated is pretty much exactly what they would communicate in person. Like any medium, it can take too much time and be used for many inappropriate things, but frankly to expect all true communication to be face to face is completely unrealistic. I think the older generation is simply much more comfortable with phones and letters than they are with internet methods of communication.

Dave Barnhart

Diane Heeney's picture

dcbii wrote:
Susan R wrote:
But while there is an element of 'distance' that online communications allow, is the internet/FB really an alternative 'un'reality? Is Facebook Gnostic? That one has me a bit puzzled.

I share your puzzlement. I can't see how it's any more unreal than a friend who lives at a distance or in a foreign country that you never see and communicate with only by phone (or way back, by letter).

I can see the issues of people being *too* genuine (i.e. posting whatever they think or feel without any filter), but from what I have seen from my friends, and from my kids and their friends, what is communicated is pretty much exactly what they would communicate in person. Like any medium, it can take too much time and be used for many inappropriate things, but frankly to expect all true communication to be face to face is completely unrealistic. I think the older generation is simply much more comfortable with phones and letters than they are with internet methods of communication.


I suppose there could be unreality in the respect that some folks could portray themselves as someone entirely unlike themselves...some kind of fictitious self set up to impress others. Or the other way I imagine is the individuals that become absorbed in Farmville or Fishville or whatever other ville or Mafia wars or whatever, and sorta subtract themselves from interaction with others. But that happens without the help of Facebook.
I have some very real interaction with folks via fb, blogging and otherwise. The rules of propriety for some may vary between face to face conversation and screen to screen....and that can make it feel a bit unreal. "Friends" are more of a consumable commodity on fb than IRL it seems...

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

This post reminded me of the big Dungeons and Dragons scare of the 80's, when it was being reported that kids were becoming so involved in the role-playing aspect of the game that they were losing their identities and even killing themselves when their character died. I don't know if or how many of these stories were true- it sounded like it was happening every week, but I remember a vague attempt to verify this years ago and only finding a couple of incidents related in some way to RPG, and from those it was preached that the sky was falling.

I think that people may spend too much time playing games on FB, but then I think people spend too much time playing games period. But how often do folks mistake these games for reality? They may be forsaking reality and responsibility to play games, and perhaps that's what we are talking about.

There are aspects of face-to-face communication that just can't be duplicated- body language, tone of voice, eye contact... but that doesn't make internet communication fake or 'unreal'. Weren't folks in the olden days often restricted to written communication that took months to get from the author to the audience? Distance doesn't make the communications 'unreal', but the motivations of the people involved determine whether or not what is being conveyed is genuine... and as has been said, that happens without FB because it is a less-than-honorable aspect of human nature to put one over on folks or present oneself in a more favorable light than is deserved.

Unless we've exercised our spiritual discernment, even face-to-face isn't all it's cracked up to be. Take Dennis Rader, who served for 4 years in the Air Force, held management positions at work and served on committees in his home town, married for 30+ years, was a member in good standing in a church for 30 years, and elected to a position of leadership in that church. Sounds like a nice guy, right? Well, he is the BTK killer, who over the course of 20 years killed 10 people. It may be a radical example, but we really shouldn't take so much for granted when it comes to our ability to judge another person's character in any setting. We often ignore the cues our spirit and subconscious grasp but our logical minds sweep them away with explanations and excuses. Just sayin'.

Enough of my blather- the warnings are absolutely valid, but I think we should take care to apply them to all of life and not just FB. Adhering to Biblical principles guiding our speech and character will see us through any situation we face, regardless of the technologies and opportunities we are presented with.

Jim's picture

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/27/open-book.html A modest thought: Facebook doesn’t really owe you privacy.

Quote:
Am I the only one who sees the irony in quitting Facebook—a site that’s designed to display every single facet of your daily life down to when you brushed your teeth—because you feel your privacy is being violated? You signed up for it. It’s a free service and you volunteered to use it. You can always sign off.

Quote:
Facebook—even though it’s only six years old—is practically a utility to some people. It’s so ubiquitous now it seems as familiar as turning on the lights or getting a glass of water from the sink, but those choices don’t have the potential of costing you a job or relationship later on down the line. Partly it’s because Facebook and other similar social-networking sites have completely altered the way people—younger people in particular, who don’t know a world without it—think about privacy. To them, Facebook’s lure and value is as a tool to control or at least try to craft their image, and that’s what drives them back again and again. They are not after privacy. They are after the opposite: popularity. Notice. Fame. Affirmation. They are building the brand of Me.

What they don’t understand is that all publicity really isn’t good publicity—that Me can change, but the residue of your life on the Internet never goes away. I know from experience that many young people don’t worry that much about what they post online. But they should. One of my jobs here at Newsweek is to oversee and hire our Washington-bureau interns, and there have been a few who have lost the opportunity because of wildly inappropriate online postings or photos that I found in 30 seconds of Googling.

Whether you like it or not, you’re slowly building your biography—warts and all—every day you’re online. And to think there are no consequences from that is like that old saw about killing your parents and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you’re an orphan.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I recently reserved [URL=http://www.amazon.com/Peep-Diaries-Learning-Ourselves-Neighbors/dp/08728... ]The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors[/URL ] by Hal Niedzviecki and [URL=http://www.amazon.com/Narcissism-Epidemic-Living-Age-Entitlement/dp/1416... ]The narcissism epidemic : living in the age of entitlement[/URL ] / Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell from our library system. The one by Niedzviecki didn't get a very good review, but I'll read it anyway. Twenge's writings are more research-based, so I'm expecting it to be a better read.

I think the phrase "Whether you like it or not, you’re slowly building your biography—warts and all—every day you’re online" is a good way to teach kids how to use Facebook and other social networking sites. I think we'll just have to have a lesson on that today during school. Biggrin

Diane Heeney's picture

Quote:
They are not after privacy. They are after the opposite: popularity. Notice. Fame. Affirmation. They are building the brand of Me.

Yes, which goes hand in hand with foraging for and gathering thousands of "friends" to oneself. I've heard that there is a limit to how many folks you can have as "friends" on your profile (doubt that will ever be an issue for me)...and that some have opened a second account to accomodate their overload. Oh brother.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Jim's picture

Simply: Facebook is a communications channel.

We could be having a this discussion 5 years ago about the evils of blogging or 10 years ago about the evils of email or 70 years ago about the evils of the telephone.

It's a communications channel ... no more ... no less. It can be sinfully used ... it can be righteously used