Social Networking

Social networking services like Facebook and Google+ can be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on how they are used. The writer has found Facebook to be useful in sharing the gospel with people who will not come to meetings but are willing to read a post containing seeds of the gospel. Social networking also gives you the potential to meet Christians from other countries, to maintain contact with people you meet at conferences, and to keep up with the development of the Lord’s work in distant places. Also, the spiritual needs of individuals can be revealed by their Facebook activity, enabling you to prayerfully seek to steer them in the right direction.

If you have a thought you have enjoyed from the Scriptures, why not share it? Use friends lists (Facebook) or circles (Google+) to share with a select group. This is a non-obtrusive way to meaningfully enjoy God’s word together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

A word of caution: the effect of your testimony, whether good or bad, can be multiplied exponentially through social networking. Think before you type. Also, sites like these are time traps: manage your time wisely as a good steward of Jesus Christ!

Pro’s and Cons to Social Media

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The most popular is likely Facebook, so for simplicity we’ll talk about that.

Pro’s

  • Many Christians post meditations and thoughts on the Scriptures that are helpful and encouraging.
  • Some missionaries use Facebook to post updates on the work.
  • Facebook enables communication with people you don’t generally have the opportunity to communicate with. If you have a question about something or a prayer request, you can easily let it be known. For instance, the writer may not have known about the death of two missionaries in Zambia had it not been for Facebook, and many more prayers may have gone up to God as a result of its presence there. It is also a good way to tell people you don’t know very well but have some contact with about gospel meetings. If you post a verse or gospel thought, your friends and family will likely read it and be reminded of eternity. This is perhaps one benefit of the not-so-personal aspect of Facebook.
  • A common reason for using Facebook is the ease of sharing photos with friends and family.
  • Facebook can be used to help others. Let’s take the example of a mother whose child spilled hot coffee all over the carpet. She can post on Facebook to see if anyone has a carpet shampooing machine she can use. People interested in helping can post to her status, and only those who respond get a reply when she determines what she wants to do.  If she were to email everyone in her address book, she could be contacting businesses and people 500 miles away who really don’t care about her problem, and if someone “replied to all” she would be clogging up a lot of people’s emails. Finally, it is much more time effective to post a note on Facebook than to search through 500 email contacts or phone numbers and call each person to see if they have a carpet cleaner you can use.

Con’s

  • You can easily waste time without realizing it.
  • Depending on your friends, some material posted on Facebook can be defiling. If you’re seeing bad information from someone, you can unsubscribe from their news or unfriend them.
  • Some ads may be inappropriate. You can hide them by clicking on the x that appears on the upper right of the ad, and Facebook will get better at showing you more appropriate ads. In general, I have seen improvement in Facebook ad quality so this may no longer be an issue for most people.
  • Facebook can take some of the meaning out of conversations and relationships. God gave us our senses for a reason. It’s harder to connect with someone if you can’t make eye contact, hear their voice, or sense their feelings. You can’t give them a real hug over wi-fi. If you know what is going on in someone’s life already through Facebook, you may be less likely to call them and talk to them in person. But let Facebook be a springboard to more meaningful communication! Nothing says you can’t ask about a trip after seeing some photos on Facebook.
  • Communication in writing is so much more likely to be misunderstood than communication in person. Try to think about how what you write could be taken before submitting it. Writing, when done thoughtfully, can be an advantage in some cases to orderly express your thoughts to someone else in the way you want them explained.
  • It is possible for other people to attempt to ruin your testimony through Facebook. For instance, someone once didn’t log out of their account, which enabled someone else to secretly post derogatory “likes” in their personal information. It wasn’t until some time later that they realized their information had been compromised.
  • Security and Privacy: Don’t think that just because you have tight security settings that others won’t be able to view your photos and information. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the extended Facebook community to see. Note that anytime someone “likes” something of yours, all of their friends (regardless of whether those people are your friends or not) can then see what you posted.
  • If your information is read by someone with bad intentions, a thief could easily find out when you’re going on vacation.
  • Relationships: When it comes to male/female relationships, I will leave that subject to the more qualified, except for the following: Such relationships are not to be treated lightly. I have attended the funeral of a young man who took his own life after a terminated relationship. Knowing my own emotions, I can see how this could happen. Be careful to not get into something you didn’t want to start in the first place.

So: Don’t let Facebook control you and your time. Let it assist in communication but do not let it be your only communication. Build meaningful relationships by connecting with others through means God has gifted us with outside of the realm of technology.

Tips for managing Facebook time:

  • Try toggl.com to see how much time you are actually spending on Facebook or the Internet. Simply press the start / stop button to track your time. You might be surprised how much of your day this takes up.
  • At the upper-right of a news entry, there is a selection option to show all updates from that person, important ones, or no updates. Use this to hide people you don’t know well or those who post questionable material.
  • Choose what kinds of email notifications you receive. Less emails means less interruptions and time better spent.


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