Saturday, 22 November 2008

A "biblical" view of Facebook?

A post by Gareth here pointed me towards this post here and it made me think a bit.

I use facebook a lot.

I love facebook.

Just to clarify - I think most of the applications are complete dross, apart from the wonderful Superbadger and a couple of others. Maps of where I have travelled, footie grounds I have visited etc. The rest irritate me somewhat. That is not what makes Facebook.

I love the opportunity to network socially. I love the opportunities to arrange events. I have got back in touch with many old school and college friends. It is also great for allowing new people int he Church to become part of the social fabric of the Church.

Connections are important in an increasingly lonely, mobile and faceless world. Facebook bridges that gap, and in doing so becomes a wonderful tool for a Church.

There are 153 members of our facebook Church group. There are 55 members of our "Young adults" social group and 52 members of our Youth group. Each of those groups is a brilliant starting point for contacting new people, getting new people to join, and getting messages out quickly. The events function is very powerful. At the touch of a few buttons I invited over 100 people to our Carol Service, who can then pass that invitation on to their friends. The "young adults" group helps to share information about what is going on socially so people can feel included and get to know new people.

So with these positives in mind I thought I would weigh up the comments made in other posts int he light of my own experience.

9 Potentially Negative Uses/Dangers of Facebook

1. The trend of using status updates to complain

Potentially - but that is a far bigger issue than Facebook

2. Measuring your worth/identity by number of Facebook friends/Facebook interactions

Potentially, but no more so than real friends surely? I take the point, some really random people have added me, but I don't see that as intrinsically bad.

3. Greater concern over forming Facebook (virtual) friends rather than real friends

I don't see this one. In fact the opposite is my experience. Facebook has allowed people to meet more people in real life, to know more people, to connect with new people, to keep up with old friends. "Real" life friendships are enhanced by effective communication means.

4. Diminishment of face-to-face time with people/enjoying and working on real relationships

Again my experience is the opposite. It helps us invite and include more people to more events and for people to connect with each other rather than just with a central person.

5. Dual identities

I would say the opposite. The fact people's mates from Church can see/read everything written makes people a lot of careful compared to when they are with other mates behind closed doors, as it were.

6. Hurting and excluding others (intentionally or unintentionally)

Nope - it has provided a means for effective inclusion beyond any previous technology, even text messaging.

7. Facebook and online life can make you more distracted, changes how you think/attention span

Potentially - but only the same as anything like TV, consoles or whatever.

8. Can tempt you away from your calling/work

Potentially - but that same criticism can be levelled at almost anything. The fact it can be used to actually increase efficiency in your calling and work!

9. Thinking about yourself more than you already do

Potentially - but it also helps you think about others more.

6 Facebook Opportunities: 6 Ways to Love God and Love Others Through Facebook

1. Can get back in touch with old, far-away friends in an easy way, showing them how you’ve been changed by Jesus

Yep - everyone else can see your interactions, friendships, events etc.

2. Can use Facebook as an extension of face-to-face relationships/can be used to enhance time with people


3. Can use Facebook to think about yourself less and others more


4. Can use Facebook to sharpen/discipline what you do with your time


5. Can use Facebook to quickly announce/make great things happen: events, face-to-face time


6. Can use Facebook to influence other people for Jesus. Create a new culture with your status updates

That one is a bit more tenuous in terms of status updates, but our photos, friends, interactions and events can be a great witness.

So there we are. None of the "dangers" with Facebook are particularly unique to Facebook. Some of its advantages, currently, are unique to Facebook. that is what currently makes me more than just a user, but also an advocate of it. It is unique in its uses, and really has changed the way people can plan stuff and include people.

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