I listened to a report on a social networking fast the other day. It was public radio so they didn’t call it a fast of course. But Eric Darr, the provost of Harrisburg University, had the school’s internet service block all social networking for a week. He isn’t against it; he just wanted students to recognize how they spent their time. At the end of the week, each student had to write a paper on what they did with the time they usually would have been on facebook, or myspace, or twitter, or the time drain of your choice. He didn’t just want them to stop; he wanted them to see what they were missing. Some students were just annoyed. Others realized how much they were enmeshed by this when they caught themselves having to borrow a friend’s iPhone in order to check their facebook.
Jeron Lanier, author of You Are Not A Gadget, suggested rather than a fast, that each time you Facebook, Tweet, etc. that you put a dime towards a charity. Every time you want to check your Facebook you have to weigh that versus the cost. That way you see the effect and it actually costs you something measureable. Plus it benefits someone.
I don’t know what a good answer is, but I hope we can find a way to see the cost of how we spend our time. It’s funny to think time spent in social networking is actually taking away time we could spend with people. And sometimes those people are our spouses, our children. I’m definitely not saying all social networking is wrong. How ironic would it be to write a blog about the evils of social networking. Especially since you probably found out about it from my Twitter.
I do think that anything in which we invest a great deal of time, we should stand back from that and weigh the cost. We should know it’s value and therefore be able to recognize when we are out of whack. Just a thought.
11 thoughts on “You Don’t Get To 500 Million Virtual Friends Without Losing A Few Real Ones”
Very well expressed Todd….
Earlier this week I’d considered deleting my facebook page, because it’s a distraction when I should be doing homework. (Yeah, I went and decided to go to grad school. Sheesh!!) Then I went on and read a prayer request from a single mom with five kids from my church. I read about our district youth director’s trip to Africa last week, and I’m now in contact with family members and old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Oh, I read about this blog of yours on facebook too. Those examples are a small part of the reason I decided to keep it up, at least for now. I do need to avoid allowing it to steal value from my life though. Now I’m heading back to the homework….. Many blessings Todd.
Addictive behavior comes in many forms. I think that social networking (texting also) is fertile ground for many to become an issue of addiction. For the Christian it seems that stewardship as well as electronic purity play a big part in how we interact in this environment. Of course this is just my opinion.
When I accepted friend requests from any and everyone who sent me one, social networking was a waste of good brain power! It also provided a path for the enemy to attack on a variety of fronts. So I deleted my only social networking site – FB – and started a new one, only accepting and sending friend requests to those people who are uplifting and spiritually supportive.
Our friend Brenda’s posts alone are worth my time every day. I can count on going to FB and spending only a few minutes to find words of encouragement from people who love me and care about my battle against the evil one.
Since diving headlong into the Internet back in ’96 I’ve run the gamut of ways and roles one can have on it – a large part of that ‘social networking’ starting with newsgroups and coming all the way around to the current crop.
Of all of that, I do have one very real friend that I made all the way back in ’96 who I have never met in the ‘real world’ because he lives down your way in Alabama and I’m in Wisconsin. We have shared pretty much every kind of things friends can through the Internet, the telephone and the U.S. Mail. So I won’t say that we can’t make solid lasting relationships by using it.
But, the Internet is NOT the real world, and it wreaks havoc on peoples lives who let themselves become consumed by it, or who have people close to them who are. People develop a false sense of reality – many even openly coping to the fact that their “created” lives on-line are their reality.
I’ve seen it all, from kids who lose touch with the real world and flunk out of school to an old friend who walked out on his wife and two daughters and filed for divorce to marry a woman he had carried on an on-line “affair” with for more than two years – they have lived with her kids in his “new” mother-in-laws basement for the last handful of years.
Make no mistake, as wonderful as the Internet and social networking can be – Sim lives have been a major factor in destroying thousands if not millions of real lives.
Social networking can be the most amazing way to stay in touch with friends all over the world and a great tool for encouraging people and offering hope that comes by knowing Jesus. But, as with most things, balance is necessary. It should never take the place of personal contact, but to throw it out completely seems a bit radical unless it has become an addiction that needs to be dealt with. I remember how great it was when the Iveys were trying to get Amos home from Haiti and needed a prayer network to stay up with them around the clock. It was so exciting to be part of that minute-by-minute experience with them through their tweets and FB posts. And now there’s a group of people praying for some unborn twins whose lives are in jeopardy. We get regular updates and prayer requests through Twitter and FB so we can join their parents in this crisis. I have missionary friends in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Philippines, and other countries around the world who keep me updated about what God is doing there. Many times news about the unrest in their countries is on FB long before the network news picks it up. Social networking is an amazing mission field and ministry outreach if we use it for that purpose. There was also a time when one of my FB friends posted something that indicated he was suicidal. It gave me an opportunity to make personal contact and offer help. I think perhaps it’s not the social media that’s the problem, but the motivation and behavior of the user. It can be a way to link arms with people around the world and join in their journey, or it can be a self-absorbed, time-consuming saga–depending on how you use it and whether or not it owns you.
I deactivate my facebook account from time to time just to take a break from it and see where I’m at, what I’m missing ect. I think it’s a good thing to do. It’s very easy too-you just go to your account, hit deactivate and it looks like you deleted your account but as soon as you sign back it everything is there again. It’s funny, the first time I did it my cell phone was ringing and people were texting ect. It makes me think…whats next? We went from meeting with friends to talking on the phone, to texting, to facebooking……kind of scary! I miss contact with people~!
Prov. 11:1 “The Lord abhors dishonest scales but accurate weights are His delight” can say more about being fair with our time, talents and resources. Keeping things in a Godly balance and giving to each area of our life what is equitable and just is God’s delight. We should be cautious of anytime we ‘tip the scales’ in favor of one thing or another.
I used to have a myspace. Thats how I met the man of God in my life…My Husband Steve. Well after a few years we lost contact, but we were reunited 3 years later. During the time of absence, I met people and involved myself in things that were not GODLY. The Lord spared me from things that could have resuted in death. I believe you when you say that it can take you away from your children, family, and church if you alow it. all of the people that i befriended on there, i dont talk to anymore…except my husband of corse. The Lord dose expect us to keep our temples pure and lovely. he can use whatever He chooses for his glory…. while it canbe fun, it can be a trap waiting to snare you aswell. Be safe, use wisdom and always keep the Lord first. My husband and I choose not to have a myspace, twitter, facebook ect..just because of the impact it had on us. God is always so good… 🙂
I agree that a lot of time is wasted on social networking. However, my husband and I are truck drivers and rarely home. Social networking has given us a way to stay connected to our children and grandchildren. Not only do we chat sometimes, but I get to see the latest pics and videos! Also, my family is all over the United States and it is a wonderful way to stay in touch.
However, when I am home, I perfer face to face time!
I have never bonded with facebook. I may check my account once or twice a week. I belong to the social network at Compassion International. We encourage each other to write our kids, we talk about our kids, their challenges, and sharing our faith with them (that is encouraged in Compassion) and talk about kids that have not been sponsored. And we talk about our own struggles in relation to God and the Church, etc. There are hundreds of people there, but I have to say that there are a couple dozen of us that are pretty tight. We pray for each other and encourage one another. There is no private messaging, unless there is an exchange of e-mails, so it is relatively safe. And if a snake-oil salesman gets on there, he is quickly banished.
20 some years ago I had a college prof who encouraged going tv free. Having grown up in the tv age, I was in 100% agreement. The tv still steals my family’s life. At least on OC, I get to communicate with real people in a give and take. TV is all take. All you have to give is your time.