I was reading an article on Facebook and relationships, how it's changed the way we interact. When I started the article, I expected to see positive reports of increased relational contacts, community building and an encouragement of openness in like-minded groups. Of course, that is the premise of the whole site. What became the brunt of the story were the unexpected problems that FB and other social sites have started producing.
One blog author claimed to have read that Facebook is now the 2nd highest cause of divorce. While I'm not sure of that rating, I did see an uncountable number of articles and blog posts of relationships broken over FB friends going over the line and 'cheating' on their significant other. Interesting that 'FB cheating' now is closer to Jesus' definition of cheating...it's in the heart.
The other big issue, along with relational cheating, was the fact that people could develop a relationship and then just find themselves 'defriended', leaving them to wonder why the change? I'm sure there are good reasons, like 'life is getting busy so I need to simplify', 'I have too many friends' (meaning 'you didn't make the cut'), I'm spending too much time on FB, etc...
But what becomes painfully evident is that FB, and other social sites, can encourage uninvested relational connections that look like relational connections. We think that we are investing in a community of friends, but it lacks the face-time, the accountability and the skin on skin relationship building of the past. I know I sound like I'm preaching against FB, but I'm not....still, here's my concern:
If my kids grow up learning and implanting a system of fly-by relationships, what does that mean to their relationship with God and others. Relationships are hard, messy and need investment to make them work. They also need accountability. There are things I might blast on FB that I would never say to them face to face....that's fear factor is needed. It seems to me people already have a problem with investing in God and what will this do to their paradigm of following Jesus? Does Jesus become just another Facebook Friend that can be turned on and off whenever they want to have a dialogue? Is going to church once a week the equivalent of FB post to heaven?
I sound so much like a legalist and I hate it....but when Romans 12:2 talks about "the patterns of this world", I get a pit in my stomach about flyby social sites. Not so much the site itself but how it seemingly is redefining what we mean when we say "friend". When scripture says, "He calls me friend"...I don't think he was thinking of FB. It seems to be much more....but are we redefining what a friend is in our own minds?
I dumped my FB account over a year ago. I haven't missed it at all. I smiled when I read that Donald Miller had done the same thing. But we have FB accounts in our house, including my kids. It's like everything else, including X-Box, Wii, Computers, Phones......they can all be abused; if you don't control them, they will control you. So I'm thinking out loud about this and not instituting a law for others to live....if FB wasn't the second biggest cause of divorce, something else would be I guess.