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The Many Faces of Facebook

Facebook is an invention. And like all inventions—such as the microscope, car or gun—it is not innately evil. It is the people that misuse Facebook who seem to make the invention evil. Sinners twist good things to make them serve themselves in ways they weren't meant to be used. This twisting can deform an invention so badly that some people feel they must stop using it altogether because it has become a vehicle for hurt or fear or anger.

However, even if Facebook is predominately used by sinners, it can still be a great blessing to others. Here are some ways it can be used well. 

Announcements: We just had a baby! We are grieved to say that my grandma passed away. We have moved. We are back from India! I will be off Facebook for a bit. I lost my cell phone; P.M. me your number. We're having a drive-by party tonight. Chickens for sale. 

Proud Moments: Look how cute my baby is! I just won an award! My son is going to college! I just painted this room!

Shared Delights: Doesn't this food look awesome? Everyone ought to read this book! I got a puppy! This is a funny joke. Here's an interesting fact. I'm sharing this post for future reference.

Request for Help/Understanding: Join me in this cause. Any ideas how to get rid of bed bugs? What's a good gluten-free restaurant? Pray for me; I'm having surgery on Friday. Does anyone else out there think public restrooms should ban air dryers?

To Give Gifts, Encouragement, Sympathy, or Advice Your baby is cute! We're sorry for your loss. Way to go making that meal! I want to buy your Girl Scout cookies. Have you tried such-and-such? I have that thingy you're looking for.

Keeping Updated/Connected: This is primarily done through looking, so I have no sample comments.

We are blessed to have so many ways to share our lives with others. And yet, we have found so many ways to twist these categories to serve our own purposes: to self-protect and self-justify and satisfy our need for love and wisdom and respect, and to feel we're making a difference in the world.

It is the one who goes to Facebook, hoping someone out there will empower or love or give hope or comfort like only God can, that finds posts and pictures a threat or wound or power struggle. We are the twisters of all good things when we demand that others be God to us. 

We're usually blind to our own deficiencies when we post from an empty heart. And when we read these motives into others words, we often judge them based on our own insecurities. Here are some sample posts with the heart behind them in italics. This is not a guide on how to interpret others' posts. These are reasons why we might post something for the wrong reason.

Announcements: I am going off Facebook; it has become too ugly. And I hope some of you feel ashamed of yourselves because it's all your fault. You are threatening my    (fill-in-the-blank)    or you're disturbing my equilibrium.

I have decided that my political stance is XYZ for these reasons, and I hope that justifies me in your eyes because I need my friends to understand & think well of me. 

We took a day trip to the local mountains and we loved every moment. We are a simple family and don't need your costly vacations to be happy. And that is why we are holier than thou!

Proud Moments: I just won an award! Maybe so-and-so will see this and finally realize that I'm likable/accomplished/wise after all. 

I just painted this room and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I don't want to sound too proud of my work because then people might misjudge me or not like me or think I'm just like everyone else.

Shared Delight: Everyone ought to read this book! But I really hope so-and-so reads it because this is what bugs me the most about them, and I hate being bothered by their foibles.

Here's a funny joke that is flippant about something that everyone is taking way too seriously. I've gotta mock it because otherwise I'll be terrified or depressed or sucked into a state of mind I can't handle. 

Here's an interesting fact from an authority that contradicts your authority, but this opinion helps me feel secure and so I have to defend it. 

Request for Help: Join me in this cause; it will help make Heaven on earth without having to do the hard work. 

Anyone know of a good way to make my child stay in bed? I'm pretty sure I've tried everything out there, but so long as no one has any new ideas, I'll feel justified in letting my child just stay up.

Encouragement/Understanding/Help: You're so lucky to have a baby who naps! I'm jealous and dissatisfied, and your post highlights that.

You should try such-and-such. I have a plan for your life and if you would just follow it, you'd stop causing me so much pain in watching you struggle.

Keeping Updated/Connected: Since this category is usually done through looking, I have no sample posts, just sample motives. Apathy: Well, it takes too much effort to care about these situations, so I won't. Envy: Awww! I never get to do things like that. My life stinks! Vengeance: Well, if that's what you think, I'll block you! See how you like them apples! Avoidance: I don't like what's happening in my life right now, so I'll distract myself by checking out what's happening in other's lives. 

Believe me when I say, it wasn't hard to come up with these twisted thoughts, and I didn't have to go digging up other's posts to find them. They were all reflections of things I've felt at one time or another. In fact, I suspect that our accusations of other's ill intentions are mostly likely linked to our own insecurities and misgivings. Such thoughts all tend to have the same tone: a self-protecting, self-justifying, love-seeking, self-asserting sort of tone. That is the nature of sin. It's all selfishness. It's all a colorless world.

But the heart that has surrendered to Christ doesn't come to Facebook seeking justification or intimate understanding or unconditional acceptance or to change the world. That person has already secured their goodness, safety, and power in Christ. Their posts have an array of wonderful tones to them, filled with peace and grace and joy and understanding. 

Our job on Facebook is not to decide the motives behind others' posts. Our responsibility is to 1) see Facebook for what it is: a good thing when approached with a heart full of Christ and 2) to do good to those who may or may not be posting with a full heart.

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