It’s highly likely that you use social media every single day. Despite the plethora of other social media platforms available, Facebook will continue to demand your allegiance as the most-used social network on the planet. It’s likely that you spend several hours a day using social media like this, whether purely for fun, part of your professional role or even within the weekly rhythms of church life.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook sensation continues to live at the top of the world for good reason. It’s both an ingenious and evolving social technology that appeals to so much of what makes us human: connection, advertising, information sharing, news, friendship, story-telling and interaction.
Healthy Use of Facebook
However, it’s so important to approach and use Facebook with your eyes wide open rather than blindly accepting it as a key part of your life. Welcoming anything into your life on a regular basis is the biggest honour you can bestow on it! There’s no need to fear Facebook warnings. Instead, here are 5 pieces of advice to make sure that Facebook is a good and healthy influence on your life:
1. Eyes Wide Open – Being intentional about how long you use Facebook on a daily basis would be a healthy approach to safeguard your heart, your mind, and your sleep. Rather than the default human tendency to aimlessly scroll through its endlessly updating feeds, decide that there are certain times that you’re not going to use Facebook to best suit you. I suggest not using it first thing in the morning when you wake up or last thing as night before you get ready to sleep. Your mind needs space and quiet away from the highways of digital traffic rather than metaphorically setting up your bed on the sidewalk where you struggle with the restlessness that comes from the the fumes of relentless traffic.
2. Like What You Like – The tyranny of comparison is one major downside to social media giants like Facebook. We seem to constantly fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with the lives of others who may seem perfect to us via their carefully-edited status updates. It might be that posts that you share are liked by hundreds of people or, literally, no-one else will seem to even acknowledge them. It’s so important that you don’t allow the ‘popularity’ of your posts or photos or quotes (or anything else) to determine what you like yourself. You will love things that maybe no-one else will love or get excited about but that shouldn’t reduce your enjoyment or excitement about them. Don’t allow popular opinion or response to determine what you would like to share with the world.
3. Look After Your Pearls – There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about not throwing your pearls to pigs. (Check it out in Matthew 7:6). Jesus is specifically talking here about being careful about the preciousness of your witness before people who may scoff, slander or even attack you for your faith. But the general principle will help you as you decide how to use Facebook: don’t share or promote your most valuable thoughts and insights in a careless manner. It might be that you feel at peace about sharing something publicly, but don’t casually throw your most intimate, private thoughts out to an often merciless world. Look after your pearls!
4. Husband and Wives/boyfriends and girlfriends – I see this all the time in the world of Facebook: a carelessness with members of the opposite sex. I think this point is most relevant for married couples but the principle also applies to couples who aren’t yet married. We often lose something of ‘appropriateness’ and ‘wisdom’ in binary transmission. What do I mean? For example, is it wise or OK for a husband to be having lengthy, private messages/conversations on Facebook with other women? Or is it OK for wives to be doing the same? Would we meet up with members of the opposite sex and have intimate conversations with them in private? There is a range of opinion on these types of relational issues within our Christian world but I’d argue strongly that you should honour your wife or your husband (boyfriend or girlfriend) by being appropriate and wise on Facebook in exactly the same way as though you were with someone physically. Honour your wife or your husband. Treat them with honour and respect in all your Facebook interactions.
5. Resist The Urge – You don’t have to be on Facebook for very long before you will notice a controversial thread or feed or post – something that is generating heated opinion and even argument. This will be no less the case within Christian networks where there are disagreements on a daily basis about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘appropriate’. Or about what is going on in the world, whether Disney is safe for your children or not, whether LGBT ‘rights’ should mean flexing on what we believe the Bible says, whether President Trump is an idiot or a genius. Whatever the issue is, it’s vital that you make your point in a way that doesn’t lead into animosity or hatred or disgrace. It’s better to say nothing and walk away than contributing to a feed in a way that hurts or needlessly offends.
Facebook warnings are valid, but be intentional in your Facebook use. To quote what I said earlier as the thought I’d like to leave with you, think about this in connection with how you use Facebook:
“Welcoming anything into your life on a regular basis is the biggest honour you can bestow on it.”
Nick Franks is a blogger/song-writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Learning to love as he should, Nick is engrossed in what it might look like to live a contagious life of worship and prayer, finding and leaving signposts for the Kingdom along the way. Nick sweats under his eyes when he eats too much cheese, adores Liverpool FC and has a strong preference for Earl Grey leaf tea. Nick is married to Mairi.
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