Missions Cartoon Posted September 8, 2018

Let's see how you "like" me now.

I'm here today to save your life... or at least tell you that there is, indeed, a life after Facebook. It started out as a harmless enough website to help people stay connected to friends, happenings, schools, and jobs. And while it theoretically can still be used as such, Facebook has clearly evolved into something much bigger and more influential... and not in the best ways.

I deleted my account several weeks ago, and it was like escaping prison. It was like seeing sunlight for the first time. It was the most wonderful thing to lose because of how much it got in the way for me to effectively serve the Lord. I'm not expecting that any one of these reasons will be enough to persuade someone to drop Facebook like I did, but all of them combined should at least get you thinking. I'll begin with how...

I'm careful about choosing friends. I might be a friend to somebody, but somebody can't be a friend to me without having certain characteristics. I believe this is a completely Biblical approach, as James tells us that friendship with the world is an enmity with God (Jm. 4:4). Simply being linked with someone online is not true friendship, and the word itself has been discounted to the point where it blurs the difference between a casual internet acquaintance and somebody for whom one might have real affinity, affection, and concern.

A real relationship involves more than sitting in front of a website. Technology has changed so much that even good old-fashioned calling has received an upgrade, thanks to apps like FaceTime and Skype for instantaneous face-to-face conversations. Chances are though, we use that time to construct our Facebook persona instead. This brings me to my next point...

I often have older folks tell me of a time when people took pride in their accomplishments and in their character. The amount of sweat they produced was directly parallel to the respect they received. The younger generations of people are more likely to manipulate their "image" by exchanging their inner-values for what other people say are desired and acceptable.

Someone reacting to your post often hopes you return the favor, if only to regain their confidence and pretend somebody actually cares. Facebook makes you think too much about yourself, and it fits the narcissism of our day in which men have become lovers of their own selves (2 Tm. 3: 1-5). This may not be you at all, but it is a mentality that is spreading rapidly to churches. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but...

Recently, my pastor asked everyone in the sanctuary to raise their hand if they have at least one accountability partner, or someone they can talk to about anything. The results weren't encouraging, and he remarked that "we have work to do."

There's a reason why I'm contantly advocating for mission trips and service projects. It’s one thing to spend an hour with a group of people in a relaxed atmosphere, but it's a whole different experience being stuck with them for days in a demanding environment. You truly get to know someone by doing things with each other. In our most vulnerable moments when everyone has grown weary and every nerve has been rubbed raw, the Holy Spirit breaks through and gives us the strength to accomplish something extraordinary. The satisfaction that comes from that is unparalleled.

Facebook isn't about helping anyone. Sure, there are dedicated pages and causes we could join, but sitting on the sofa over a few keystrokes isn't going to change anything. Even these "social justice warriors" out there are only known for allowing any given viral post to dictate their mood, telling everyone how miserable they are, and getting credit for being properly miserable in plight of the actual issue. No matter how well-meaning an online-based movement is, it's certain to go sour because...

Nearly everything that is said in any given comment section or conversation never elevates one another. It was my generation who pioneered the social media landscape, and yet my graduating high school class couldn't even plan a ten-year reunion without resorting to slang filled drivel. Facebook is a business model that encourages this kind of behavior to inflate tensions on any given issue, so millions and millions of other people may also express themselves about it. When Facebook wants us to base our decisions on how we feel, the last thing someone often wants is to be confronted about the sin they're sharing through a post or a profile picture. The next person I see that makes a decision for Christ on Facebook will be the first.

And there is a lot of wicked things that can pop up in your news feed, and you have no real control over it. Not only are you looking at things you don't want to see, but you may unknowingly cause other people to stumble just by reacting to them. The whole thing is a bastion of compromise, and it discourages and erodes the Biblical boldness that Christianity has been long known for. But by the time you realize this, it’s already too late because...

Along with Google, we have given these companies extreme power over the flow of information. As they are taking over the internet, they are creating a world in which everything is first filtered through them. They get to decide what news is news, what's important and what's not, what's acceptable and what's not, what should and shouldn't be said, what's true and what's false, and so on.

The fact that a couple companies have the ability to control what billions of people think should be alarming. They are also increasing their efforts to restrict and ban content they don't approve of, by their own definitions and values. This is especially true for any Christian related content. Imagine what the internet is going to be like twenty years from now. This isn't going to get any better.

I should reiterate that none of these problems are stemmed from simply using Facebook, but from the many, MANY people who continue to live in it. The website still has frequent updates that confuse and aggravates users to the point where they make up posts about how much they hate Facebook. Deleting your profile is as simple as clicking a button, but there’s a reason why very few people do...

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mt. 26: 40-42). In an interview with BBC, former Mozilla employee Aza Raskin said "Behind every screen on your phone, there are [...] a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting." He went on to express regret for designing the "infinite scroll" feature that has since become a Facebook staple.

Facebook causes more Facebook. Take a day and count the number of times you click on the app or type 'f' in the search box on your browser. You may very well be shocked. I STILL catch myself doing this. Unless if you're one of the very few people that can handle Facebook in a Scriptural manner, your mind will always generate some excuse to go back to looking at random photo albums and hypocritical status updates. It's all too easy to be tempted.

I'll never forget the day I stopped caring about what someone I haven't seen in ten years had for breakfast, or what their child spilled on the kitchen floor, or who wore what, or said what, or whatever. I suddenly had the emotional energy to reflect and show gratitude to the people in my life that I love and cherish; the people who REALLY know me. Because I no longer had the occasional auto-playing video or song pop up, I was able to pick up and jump into a conversation with a couple who expressed legitimate concerns on where the Bible came from.

In case if you're wondering if Facebook is still a necessary evil to keep up with friends and family, it's not. I have not been missing out on any important events or get-togethers, because that information still gets across in some form or another. I can still be up to date with the latest news from a large number websites that aren't in a tech-giant chokehold. Not only have I been able to get my work done lickety-split, I now have a surprising amount of free time to do things of substance that brings me happiness... like memorizing Scripture, or taking a hike somewhere, or driving to visit a friend.

With that said, removing Facebook from my life has not turned me into an ideal version of myself. I'm not smarter or a more cultured person. I probably didn't do much for my data security, and I certainly haven't made Zuckerberg any less of a billionaire. But living in the real world with real friendships and discussions is better than living life through a medium of pixels. A life full of risk, vulnerability, self-sacrifice, and giving to others has more meaning than living in a bubble and passing imperial judgment on everything.

It's your choice, and I won't have a lower opinion of you one way or another. But if giving up Facebook means a little improvement on my mental health and a little less hindrance in advancing the Kingdom of God, that's good enough for me.