3. Superficial and Unclear Relationships
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Haque notes, “Despite all the excitement surrounding social media, the Internet isn’t connecting us as much as we think it is. It’s largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships. . . . Thin relationships are the illusion of real relationships.” He goes on to explain that, thanks to the explosion of so-called friendships in the world of social networking, the very word “relationship” has lost its value. “It used to mean someone you could count on. Today, it means someone you can swap bits with. Social media can give us the artificial sense of a busy social life with much fellowship when we have 1500 Facebook ‘friends’ or 500 ‘followers’. Genuine relationships require patience, forbearance,
forgiveness, time in one another’s presence, shared loves.
Is it unkind or rude to ignore or refuse Friend Requests? Is it acceptable to “friend” an ex-boyfriend/ girlfriend if you are married? Should married men and women have a host of friends from the opposite sex? How should Christians deal with someone who has been disciplined by a church of like faith? Should they all un-friend? Should they refuse to ‘like’ or comment on posts? Should they remove the person from the newsfeed? Or should they keep him or her to find out if there is any repentance/ or of others are interacting?
4. Ungodly Speech
Reviling, rudeness: The unkind, aggressive and vicious language which takes place on social media has caused some psychologies to coin the term “online disinhibition effect.” This simply means that behaviour which would be considered unacceptable face-to-face becomes common when people are behind screens, particularly if they are anonymous.
Slander, lies: It has become possible to destroy a person’s reputation by posting a video, photo, or comment, and waiting for it to ‘go viral’.
Gossip: Much of what is shared on Social media, whether by permission or not, is simply gossip. To learn details of another’s life, when you are not a part of the problem or a part of the solution, constitutes feasting on ‘tasty morsels’ (Prov. 18:8).
Careless words: Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. “Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it” (Matthew 12:36)
5. Time Wasting
In a Time Magazine article entitled “It’s Time to Confront Your Facebook Addiction,” Kayla Webley shares some startling statistics. “One-third of women ages 18 to 34 check Facebook first thing in the morning. . . . Of the 1,605 adults surveyed on their social media habits, 39% are self-described ‘Facebook addicts.’ It gets worse. Fifty-seven percent of women in the 18 to 34 age range say they talk to people online more than they have face-to-face conversations. Another 21% admit to checking Facebook in the middle of the night.”
Dr. Joseph Garbley says Facebook addiction is becoming a very real problem. . . . unlike alcohol or drugs, social networking addiction is psychological not physical. The nature of Social media is to absorb your interest with continual curiosity, until you have literally lost hours at a time. Catching up with a long lost friend, leads you to another friend, going through all his posts and photos, till you come back and see the links and videos shared by others. If you have hundreds of friends, that may be hundreds of items in your newsfeed everyday, enough to keep you absorbed for hours.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16)
Social media works like advertising: look at my life – the one you don’t have! Look at the places I have been to, the food I eat, how good I look, how cute my children are. Look at the fod I cook, the clothes I wear, the house I live in, the car I drive. My life is all at once glamorous and homely, exotic and cosy, extravagant and normal, fun and meaningful. Keep clicking through my life, and keep getting angrier. Social media can feed one of the darkest sins – the sin of comparing. Social media is entirely an exercise in comparing another’s life to your own. Singles comparing boyfriends or girlfriends, mothers comparing their children’s success with others; people comparing their material success with their peers; people comparing how they have aged in comparison to others.
Now I cannot control the envy in someone else’s heart. But I can do two things: 1) I can refuse to flaunt God’s good gifts in ways that will tempt others to envy; 2) I can refuse to spend too much time thinking about what others have. What would happen to your heart if every time you visited a friend, you were taken on a tour to see his most expensive possessions, and he showed you videos of his exotic holiday?
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherd’s Seminary Africa