One of my last essays for a composition class was an opinion paper. I decided to write on a controversial topic amongst Christians: Facebook. Please enjoy, but realize that this was a five paragraph essay, not an exhaustive source of information on all things relating to Facebook and Christians. I am merely expressing my opinion, as this is not a persuasive paper.
Facebook: A New Kind Of Predator
Facebook, a relatively basic concept for social connection, has somehow affected the very core of American culture. What is it about Facebook, a seemingly simple idea, which has the power to influence an entire civilization? To answer this question, we must first understand the essence of this network. To begin with, a technical definition of Facebook is: “A social network upon which millions of users upload information about themselves for other users to see and respond.” An admittedly opinionated definition created from observation is this: “The internet breeding grounds of abundant narcissism.”
The effects of this social network, both positive and negative, can be seen everywhere. Its mark can be found on relationships, marketing, entertainment, and society in general. In my own experience, when I meet another person for the first time, one of the first questions I have been asked is, “So… do you have a Facebook?” Instead of writing letters, calling, or emailing, individuals will message each other on Facebook. In advertisements, companies will promote their Facebook pages, saying something along the lines of, “Like us on Facebook! If you like us, we will give you free coupons!” all because advertising has been extremely effective through Facebook. Its name is plastered all over the walls of entertainment. “Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Facebook!” is the petition of every business, movie maker, music artist, and TV show. These are only a few examples, but it is already obvious Facebook has had significant influence upon our culture. This is a fact.
Several questions naturally arise when we examine this social network’s power over both individuals and industries: How is Facebook having such unprecedented effects on those who use it, or even how is it gathering as many users as it has? The answer is simple. It preys upon one of the most basic weaknesses of human nature- our pride. This tactic has proven to be extremely effective, and has been used countless times in both the marketing and entertainment industries. In every commercial on television, a company is telling the viewer he needs its product, as it attempts to stir up greed in his heart. The viewer starts to feel as if he is less of a person because he does not own this product, or he feels that his friends will view him as less of a person because he does not have what they have. This approach to advertising and by extension, reasoning, is actually a logical fallacy. It is an Ad Populum fallacy: appeal to the masses. Facebook uses this strategy, but with a different slant. It does not take advantage of the greed of the user; rather, it preys on his conceit. I dare the reader to log on to his Facebook account and scroll down the news feed with this in mind. How many status updates are all about “me”? How many are about how the user is having such a terrible day, or how he did not get what he wanted out of a relationship? On the other side of the spectrum, how many are about life being just a big bowl of cherries? I challenge the user to click on any random teenage public school user, and try to calculate the number of pictures he has taken of himself with his cell phone in a restroom mirror! If math is not my reader’s strong point, he might find this quite difficult! Now, one should not misunderstand, Facebook does not cause the user to become more selfish or conceited; it just accentuates and provides another channel through which those negative traits can thrive.
Those who have Facebook accounts should not only be wary of the ways it can allow one to practice selfishness, but also the effect it can have on one’s time. Facebook, like almost all other forms of media, is an easy way to waste time. A quick check of one’s account can slip into an examination of other user’s accounts, which can lead to hour-long chats with friends and so on. On Facebook, ten minutes can evolve into two hours without notice! Once again, this is a negative consequence that can be controlled. Facebook does not make or require one to use it for an extended period of time; it merely provides another venue for one to waste time.
In spite of Facebook using such tactics to gain users, it is not evil, and can actually be utilized for great good! I know many true Christians who have Facebook accounts and operate them to point others to the Word of God, ask for prayer, and give glory to the Lord in general. This is an extremely good way to manage a page. It is also a great tool to reconnect with old friends. It is a pleasure to search out friends to discover how they have grown physically and in the Lord. Much redemption can be found in Facebook if one manipulates it for the proper purposes and does not allow it help him sin. I would recommend a Facebook account to anyone as long as he has disciplined himself regarding time, and would advise that one apply discernment in any posts.