You might be asking yourself what in the world parachutes have to do with social media. Here’s the idea: I’ve always wanted to go skydiving! Thrill seeking is in my blood and the thought of jumping out of an airplane is right up there with the thought of taking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee intravenously.

Although I’d love to go skydiving, I’m certainly not asking for a death wish. If I ever do take the plunge it will be with ample preparation (and white knuckles), I can assure you. Immediately I would become the poster child for obsessive-compulsive behavior, as in checking the packing of my parachute again and again. And again. You get the idea.

Get the parallel? There’s nothing inherently wrong with skydiving. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media. Just be sure to participate in both with every possible precaution in place.

A couple of days ago I took the plunge into the atmosphere of Facebook. Perhaps some of you noticed. Not surprisingly, I needed some beginner lessons. And I’m talking beginner. Not knowing the difference between a wall and news feed, I soon began tagging, poking, sharing, liking, friending, and hyperventilating.

Many people use Facebook appropriately. You’re probably one of them. However, some do not. I’m sure I’ll make my own mistakes, but I’d like to minimize as many as I can by keeping in mind the following potential dangers:

1.    Foolish speaking

Remember that Facebook is a social networking site and its primary purpose is to facilitate socializing, that is, connecting people primarily through the use of the written word.

The main difference between spoken words and written words is that written words have a much longer shelf life. Like the crude images on a caveman’s wall, the words written on a Facebook wall have longevity beyond the immediate conversation.

If we should follow the time-honored adage of “thinking twice before we speak,” then we probably ought to “think thrice before we tweet” (or post, or comment).

The Bible has much to say about foolish speaking, and its principles apply as much (if not more) to the written word as they do to the spoken ones. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)

Words are verbal units of thought for which we are personally accountable. Spiritually mature people understand the weight they carry and guard the loose distribution of them. They understand the harmful nature of the tongue and keep in mind the need to apply swiftness to hearing, not to speaking.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” (Proverbs 17:27)

2.    Gossip/ Talebearing

As we have already said, printed words often carry with them increased weight. In an odd way, they somehow seem to be more true. Repeating bad news or fomenting negative situations can enflame fires that otherwise would have extinguished.

Because it is so easy to click “like” and “share,” we often find ourselves in temptation’s way all too often regarding gossiping and talebearing. Sometimes our desire to be the first to post silences the more rational voice that tells us not to repeat it. 

Of course I am not advocating the covering of sin, but I’m pretty sure that “sharing” on Facebook is not one of the steps of discipline mentioned in Matthew 18. Anyway, think about these verses and thoughts:

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…” (Lev. 19:16) And how much more easily we “go up and down” with the aid of modern technology.

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Prov. 11:13) Character is often better revealed by what one does not say. Anyone can blab. And most do.

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” (Proverbs 18:8) The human body is an amazing creation of God, and most physical wounds heal rather quickly and completely. A spirit wounded by the vicious words of a talebearer can fester unhealed for a long time. Beware.

“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” (Proverbs 26:20) 

Posts that are not liked or shared and pictures that are not tagged quickly become buried in the news feed. Instead of placing another log on the latest Facebook drama, it is best to let the fire die a slow death. When we simply allow the wood to burn, the wood becomes embers, and the embers become ashes, and the ashes eventually blow away. 

3.    Meddling/busybodying

Perhaps the most neglected sin in our preaching is that of busybodying—meddling in the affairs of another without Biblical reason. Idleness is the seedbed for busybodying and promotes the “wandering about” that has so characterized the average Facebook user.

In the Old English, the word disorderlyapplied to those who shirked their responsibility by not working. Instead these shirkers bided their time meddling unnecessarily in the affairs of others. Paul had warned them in his first letter and now reiterated that warning here in the second: “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” (2 Thessalonians 3:11)

The sin of busybodying doesn’t keep good company! She’s listed alongside murder, stealing, and evildoing. Yikes! “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” (1 Peter 4:15)

There really is nothing new under the sun. Facebook certainly didn’t create the sin of busybodying, or any other sin for that matter. The truth is, Facebook itself is benign and quite neutral. The danger lies in the exponential ways by which sin can be facilitated with social media. Paul spoke of some foolish women in his day who, “…learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1Timothy 5:13) The significant difference between these busybodies and us on Facebook is that theywandered from house to house with their feet, and we Facebook users wander from continent to continent with a click of the mouse. 

4.    Passive Aggression

Passive aggressive behavior is that behavior characterized by an indirect lashing out, often through the use of innuendo or cryptic words. Sometimes it will take a form like this:  “Don’t you hate it when some people…” And then the one posting goes on to describe some way by which he has been hurt or some perception of wrongdoing on the part of another. Then he proceeds to suck his thumb against the cyber fence while all of his friends unwittingly fertilize his expressed bitterness with likesand shares and “you’re such a good martyr” comments.

When people post things like this on Facebook, they are actually advertising their unwillingness to care for a matter Biblically. Those who comment on it unwisely fuel the fire.

Biblical principles of conflict resolution are not negated when we happen to foray into cyberspace. No, the principles themselves are timeless.  “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matt. 18:15)

Facebook should not be the latest UFC arena where gawking and bloodthirsty onlookers eagerly wait to see who “taps out” first. “Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another.” (Prov. 25:9)

5.    Frivolous time-wasting

Much of what is posted on Facebook has great value. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with cute pictures, funny anecdotes, hilarious videos, or online games. Much like television viewing, the question we must ask ourselves should not be limited merely to, “What?” as in, “Is what I am posting/viewing honoring to the Lord?” A great companion question would be, “How much?” as in, “How much time, attention, and priority does Facebook have in my life?” Because Facebook has become such a part of the warp and woof of our lives, it becomes difficult to chronicle just how much time we are spending on it, doesn’t it?

Is Facebook an activity in your life that contributes to a growing personal unawareness of spiritual things? Good things become bad when they keep us from better things. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Rom. 13:11)

Benjamin Franklin reminded us that time is the stuff of which life is made. Those who fastidiously guard their time are those who “redeem it,” who buy it back. Money should be spent wisely. Time should be spent more wisely. Unlike money, it is not a renewable resource. To the Ephesian and Colossian churches Paul emphasized that they should be, “redeeming the time.”

I really wish I had time to finish this article, but I’ve got to get back to Facebook. I’m getting the jitters! J

**OK, that’s enough to chew on for now. I’ll talk about the next 5 dangers in the next article.**

Source: Consider This

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