June 1, 2009
Ironic. After years of avoiding it, but having been invited by umpteen church friends to do it, I just started with Facebook last week. I'm already feeling guilty how much time I've spent with it, and I really question what others are doing with it. I don't plan to leave it, but I know I have to be as strict with my time budget as with finances. (I have no desire to be on Twitter...)
I saw the decision by Anne ("flowerdust") by receiving a tweet from @MichaelHyatt.I'm wondering when/if these same folks have contemplated giving up TV, an automobile, a computer, Internet access, a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, paper, pens, speech or other technological inventions.The Facebook of today is the telephone of yesterday and the pony express of the century before and the stone tablets of the epoch before that. These (Facebook, blogs, Twitter) are means of communication that, like any means can be abused, overused, misused or become addictive, counterproductive, etc. And, like any of the above, practicing fasting from them from time to time is a good and healthy practice.What's interesting is the inconsistency and, to be frank, hypocrisy of some who write off emerging technologies (that are honestly easy to write off if they are new to you) but have never fasted from TV, telephone, automobiles, dishwashers, or speaking because of the impacts these technological inventions (or crutches, if you like) have on our spirits. It would be quite easy to postulate that automobiles, clothes washers and telephones are much more of a dependency for the modern person than Facebook. But I hear few folks decrying them or "giving them up" to purify their souls for a season.Generally, folks give up this stuff because it has become nonproductive or boring for them - and that's fine. But dressing it up as a spiritual exercise is a bit pretentious.
My reasons for not being on facebook may be unique but I wonder if others have related issues. In my business I consult for a lot of organic food manufacturers, and sustainable business. If my clients found out my real political beliefs, or even some of my christian beliefs, I think I would be in trouble. Because I am a republican and proud of it (just as you may be a democrat and proud of it). I liked George Bush. Voted for McCain. Hate abortion, think gay marriage is wrong (but have gay friends and clients). I have my doubts about the man-made part of global warming. See, there, I've alienated 85% of you and you guys are my fellow Christians! I can hear the scoffing, snorts and mocking. Can you imagine the impact on my "Progressive" clients? I also have very jewish clients that would be upset, not that I am a christian, but that I am an evangelical Christian with conservative social opinions. Otherwise, I look counter-cultural, I talk counter cultural, I am a painter, a writer, well read, well educated, like organic food and love world cuisine. I have my iPhone, Mac laptop, iPod and love technology. I dearly love my clients and have shared openly with some of them about my faith. But it's in my time and my way. Sure, you can say that you don't have to admit them as friends to your facebook page, but that is almost just as bad.So I have problems for business reasons. I also have a problem with everyone being so transparent. It worries me that it may be encouraging political correctness or cultural conformity just by the pressure of the community. Am I crazy to be concerned?
If social networking is spiritually deadening for some one, of course they should refrain from engaging in it. But I'd suggest they're in the minority - in other words, it's not because of some basic flaw in the practice itself. I've found it to be an essential tool - both for my day job at a newspaper and in promoting my sideline writing. It's something more and more people won't be able to function, professionally, without. I'd agree with previous posters that this puts it more in line with a benign technological development such as the telephone. Writing social networking off completely at this point feels awfully reactionary.
I didn't hear anyone say social networking is spiritually deadening. And no one said they were writing it off completely. They were "turning their lights off on some their online networking" and their "reasons were personal". YSMarko is leaving his site up but not using it. I presented my case as unique and refrained in particular from Facebook. However, I am also a member of a webchurch and other Christian social networking sites. I recommend facebook to some clients for marketing reasons. It worked like gangbusters for Obama. If Facebook is valuable to you Josh, just say so and I appreciate and agree with you. But don't say these people are being reactionary. That's a value judgement. I'd be curious if anyone else shared my discomfort with being completely transparent online?
I'm new to facebook, but find that it is nice to talk to family and friends, who for the most part understand you. I use a computer, which I call a fancy typewriter, because basically that is what I use it for. Facebook has given me the opportunity to communicate with those whom I'm close to as well as the internet e-mail system. If you are having trouble with it, let it go and when the time is right, come back to see if you want to start again or not. God will give you directions all that you have to do is ask. In God's Grace John
I'm on Facebook myself and have been for some time. For a while I did all the "fun" things: sending flowers, flair, playing games, etc. The last big thing that I did was to have a facebook farm that I had to keep up with constantly. As a mother of two, I couldn't justify participating in all these time consuming things while my children, husband, house, needed my attention. So, I pulled the plug on all but one application (It's a game and I never play it unless everything else has been taken care of). The crazy thing about these applications is that I am sure that some of my "friends" might think I ignore them because I don't except anything from anyone, even my best real friend. But, I just couldn't maintain all these virtual items while completely ignoring the reality that surrounds me every day. The virtual tomatoes can die. My children need me right now. The consequences of me ignoring them would be much worse.
I've been sitting here for a few minutes trying to come up with a reply to this...I feel as if I somehow need to defend myself or my actions and realize, you know what? I don't. I'm being obedient to what God is calling me to do. Think what you wish and judge as you wish. Whatever.
Soon i'd be saying good bye to Facebook as well. Many of my family and friends are on facebook that's the only reason I'm on it. I'd rather talk to my friends on the phone and know how they have been doing rather than learn about it from their facebook. Facebook is so impersonal, I feel so distant from my friends who I once felt were so close to me when we conversed on the phone. When I could hear their voice, their laughter and their emotions.I feel nothing but pity when my close friends take a test on facebook to know what is their 'sexiest feature' or 'what kind of a person are you?'. The results are displayed for all their friends to see. I feel pity that one has to learn from facebook if they are good looking or a person with character. Seems like online networking treats us like people with low self-image. We depend on online networking for appreciation from our friends and we find none. So soon I'd be saying good bye to facebook, i'd rather phone my friends and know how they are doing...don't need the impersonal facebook.
Facebook is great for finding old friends but it can indeed waste time. Blogging can be very beneficial for the author even if no-one else reads it because a blog can be a record of a thought process. We make it public because we are writing things we are more sure of than to just keep them in a private journal.
I can definitely see why somebody would give up social networking and blogging for spiritual reasons. There are some that feel that God has led them to online ministries, social networking, etc. to reach a generation that might not otherwise hear the message; or at least in a way that is relevant to their lives. If that can be the case, why wouldn't it also be the case that God would lead someone away from the same thing? Maybe the reason that He called them to start had been completed and He has something else he wants them to do now - and social networking just doesn't fit into that or would even detract from it.Social networking can be a great thing, but it can also be a huge distraction.
Are you saying that its disingenuous to fast from internet if you haven't first fasted from speaking?
I agree with Jeff. My productivity in blogging and availability via social media waxes and wanes, sometimes I turn off IM so that I can work, sometimes I leave my computer closed for a whole day to focus on physically present community. I think that these are good choices, but also that being available to my friends and to larger community via internet sources is also valuable. I don't think that my choices make me more righteous than somebody else, and feel a bit troubled when others cast their personal decisions as a kind of spiritual strength.I must note, as a related point that does not necessarily undermine what anyone else said, one of my strongest christian communities takes place largely via email. I and 6 other women check in with each other weekly, as we have since college, with thanksgivings and prayer requests and stories from our lives. Though we live in different states and our lifestyle choices have diverged quite a bit, we still love and pray for each other and that bond is strong when we are together again. This doesn't replace local community, of course, but it something God blesses me with weekly that would hurt my spiritual life if I gave it up.
Jeff, are you really criticizing people for choosing to refrain from a voluntary activity that they feel God isn't calling them to do? There's nothing pretentious or hypocritical at all in either Anne or Marko's posts. Neither of them is trotting out their decision as evidence that they're holier than anybody else. Unless you know them way better than I do (which is not at all), I think it's very presumptuous to look for spiritual flaws in their personal decisions.
Umm . . . seems like all we've got to do is go and tell. The Bible not only doesn't say HOW to go and tell but Jesus Himself said we will do greater things than He. John 14:12GOD makes it simple . . . we make it complicated
Add your comment to join the discussion!