- It offers us the possibility of reinventing ourselves or presenting a specific crafted image of ourselves to our Facebook friends.
- It has changed the way we interact with others.
- It offers a sense of connection, or in Elser's words, it offers a "digital inoculation against any creeping sense of disconnection or isolation".
- It offers an opportunity to "socialise in solitude" (to quote Aaron Sorkin the writer of 'The Social Network' which is the story of Facebook's creation - see the trailer below).
- It allows us to be hyper-focused on constructing hyper-elaborated identities.
- We live more distracted lives because of our constant checking and updating of our profiles.
One of the most intoxicating things about Facebook is the possibility it represents for reinvention. From our words, to our image, to our friends, Facebook lets us control the public perception of ourselves with an iron fist that would surely please even Kim Jong-il.
What a different view the Bible gives in Romans 12:1-8 of what we should desire, and what true community looks like when its members centre their lives on God. Rather than spending our lives feeding a need to be recognised, to be liked and to be admired, we are called to give ourselves to a life of sacrifice - "living sacrifices". We are not to be conformed to the patterns of the world. Rather, because of God's mercy to us we are "not to think of (ourselves) more highly than (we) ought". As God's children in Christ, we have been given gifts from God due to his grace and mercy, not for ourselves, but to fulfil our part as "..one body in Christ, and individually members one of another". Whatever good gifts God has given are to be used for the good of the Body of Christ and the glory of God.
Is Facebook bad? No, I don't think so. It is a social networking site that can be used to sustain relationships and maintain contact with friends around the world. But it does have the potential to become an addiction and to shift our focus too much to our own sense of self worth and the need to create an identity that is pleasing to us and others. This is not ultimately something which will be for our good.
Other posts and resources
Daniela Elser column 'Hooked on the digital crack of Facebook', Sydney Morning Herald (HERE)
Previous post on 'Late Night Habits and the Mental Health of Young Adults' (HERE)
'The Social Network' (HERE)