Is It Time to Unfriend Facebook?
There are over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook according to second quarter 2017 statistics.
If all these people spent just 10 minutes per week on Facebook, that totals nearly 350 million hours weekly scrolling through Facebook pages.
But most people spend far more than 10 minutes per week on Facebook. The actual amount of time consumed by the social network site is astronomical.
Christians must ask the question: “Is it a good stewardship of time to visit Facebook?”
Facebook does have its benefits. It’s a good way to keep in contact with distant family and friends. You can share messages, photos and videos with them.
It’s a great way to find and reconnect with old friends.
There is also a feature that allows people in natural disaster areas to tell others they are safe. That can be a real comfort to worried friends and relatives.
But is Facebook worth it to Christian writers when it is such a major time-stealing distraction? One minute checking your Facebook page easily turns into 10 minutes or an hour of lost time.
The Downside of Facebook
Facebook controls what you see.
Most Christian writers seek truth and want to share it with others in books and blog posts. Facebook is offensive in that regard because it lacks objectivity. Everyone is trying to sell their ideological agenda.
Facebook itself is the greatest offender in this regard. Mark Zuckerberg has his own social and political agenda and it is often in conflict with biblical values.
Facebook was forced to adjust their news policy in 2015 because the bias was so extreme.
According to media site Gizmodo, “Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project.”
Perhaps worse, Facebook has defined what constitutes free speech. They define free speech by their own values, and anything outside that is censored. Many Bible values are outside their contemporary politically correct values.
The main way that Facebook manipulates what you see is by the way they selectively display content. You see what they want you to see.
They have a system called Edgerank that filters your messages. They say you can control what you see, but that’s largely false. They even force you use the “Top Stories” default (most liked among your Friends), and you cannot permanently set your feed to the more dynamic and helpful “Most Recent” posts.
Facebook is constantly collecting data when you Post, Like or take other actions. They are profiling you. The Edgerank system will show the same sorts of things to you, and that plays havoc for writers and others who seek diversity.
The Facebook Battleground
Another downside to the social media site is that it excels as a way to sow seeds of gossip, confusion and hate.
People tend to believe everything they read on Facebook. So malicious people, both Christians and non-Christians, are happy to spread questionable content without doing any fact-checking.
Many people attack fact-checking sites, like Snopes.com or FactCheck.org, when they offer all sides to the issue and provide the resources so others can check the facts themselves. Biased people prefer to kill the messenger rather than research inconvenient truth for themselves.
Memes–images with a slogan–are particularly effective at spreading falsehoods. Such images have long been used to spread propaganda to unthinking people.
The ideological battleground gets particularly bad when Christians use these tactics to attack other Christians. They do it under the guise of promoting “doctrinal purity,” but most of it is just plain old sectarian hate-mongering.
The Bible does not make a distinction about these things. Facebook is a battleground for what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 12:20. He said, “I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
That describes much of Facebook perfectly.
Overcoming the Dark Side of Facebook
Besides the misinformation on Facebook, there are two issues for Christians, and particularly Christian writers, to consider. Facebook has a good side, but does its dark side justify the time we spend there?
The first issue is stewardship of time. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
How much could you write, or what else could you do for the Lord, with the time you burn on Facebook?
The second issue is possible Facebook addiction. It’s a real psychological malady.
Here are some signposts:
- You feel a compulsion to see latest posts (FOMO – Fear of Missing out).
- You are viewing Facebook more than twice a day.
- Your two sessions last longer than 30 minutes each.
- You get involved in seemingly endless debates.
- Most of your Facebook friends are not friends at all.
You can “digitally detox.” Here are some helpful steps:
- Set standards for yourself and stick to them. Severely limit your time on Facebook. Avoid the temptation to visit it.
- Tell your friends that you will not be engaging on Facebook as often as before. Let them know you still love them but that your priorities have changed.
- If certain people become a vexation to your soul, unfriend them or at least mark them as “Do not follow.” Block them if you must.
Think about whether Facebook contributes to your life in a positive or negative way. Does it increase fellowship and good-will, or is it a contentious battleground?
And what about your time? Is it better spent writing rather than commenting on funny pictures or getting involved in endless debates?
Hopefully, these questions spark prayer and action in your life.