We should go, not to Facebook, but face-to-face

With horrific footage being shared on Facebook, is the social network worth engaging with?

FAITH AND REFLECTION — I read that social media began with Mark Zuckerberg’s launching of Facebook in 2004. However social media, more broadly defined, began long before that and it has a long and fascinating history.

Letter carrying dates back to the sixth century before Christ. On May 24, 1844, the message, “What hath God wrought?” was transmitted by Morse code from Washington D.C. to Baltimore. Then, in the 1890s, telephones and radios made their entrance. These latter two remain with us to this day, though modern versions, both in appearance and function, only remotely resemble the originals.

With the introduction of computers, the internet and emails, and with easy access and popularization of the same, the stage was technologically set for all that has followed. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc… . and who knows what else by this time next week?

It has been a challenging time for social media hasn’t it? On April 16, the murder of Robert Goodwin was posted on Facebook. On the evening of the following day, horrific live footage once again appeared on Facebook as a 20-year-old Thai man streamed live the murder of his beautiful 11-month-old daughter.

Is Facebook and/or modern social media inherently evil? Before answering this question, let’s bring this discourse down several notches and much closer to home. On Facebook, I’ve found old friends and seen new babies, acquired important information and received invitations. I’ve given and received birthday wishes, anniversary greetings and congratulatory comments for achievements and enjoyed a myriad of photos. Marvellous!

However, I have also seen bad language and questionable photography, received illicit invitations and lewd suggestions. Moreover, I have seen dialogue that is indiscreet, critical, hurtful, judgmental and gossipy, often unbased, but seldom unbiased. And I have been surprised when people reply to such, for in my opinion, some posts are simply not worthy of a response. (Incidentally, Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15 that we should go, not to Facebook, but face-to-face.) I have noticed that some inappropriate posts have been removed, but like a spike being removed from a fine piece of wood, the metal is gone, but the damage is done. Malevolent!

So, are these sites evil? I don’t think so, but we can be. It is a matter of the heart. As a rifle can be used to provide food for a family or to murder the neighbour, most things, including social media, can be used for good or for evil.

We should be using social media to inform, encourage, and positively impact others and to maintain enriching connections with those from long ago and loved ones who are far away.

“Show that you are a letter from Christ written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)