A Few Rules for Facebook Users

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First let me say, I’m a fan of Facebook. I enjoy connecting with old friends, reading status updates, making comments, etc. It’s a great site for communicating, networking and just keeping up with people in general. In fact, there are some members at our church who only communicate with me via Facebook. Email is way too out of date.

But not everything about Facebook is good, and I’m not just talking about the game updates and quiz results that clog my news feed. I’m talking about the fact that many people don’t know how to use it appropriately (including many believers). They use the status updates to badmouth other people or discuss the intimate details of family feuds. They post entirely inappropriate pictures of them drunk at a party or wearing next to nothing. They assume that virtual connections are the same as real connections, so while they pile up online friends they further isolate themselves from any real relationships. And, worst of all, they waste entirely too much time on it (I’m guilty). So in light of all these problems I decided that it was time for a few Facebook rules. Here’s my list thus far…

1. Watch what you post. No one really wants to hear the gory details of your divorce or how your ex treats you unfairly or that your boss is a jerk. This is not the Jerry Springer show, it’s the world wide web. It’s where potential employers go to find out more about you or where prospective customers or new friends go to do a little research on your character. Have some restraint and be careful what you post. This includes pictures! I know you think that you look really cute in that picture where you’re hammered at a party, but is that really the public image you want to project? Here’s a good rule of thumb for pictures and status updates. If I pulled them off your Facebook page and threw them up on the big screen at church this Sunday would you be embarrassed? If so, then take them down.

2. Share your password. More and more research is coming out about Facebook affairs. The site makes it incredibly easy to reconnect with old boyfriends/girlfriends. You start chatting online and reminiscing about the good times you had together (conveniently forgetting all reasons you broke up with them in the first place). Maybe you even start to think that life was better back then and you fantasize about rekindling the flame. Be very careful here. If you catch yourself hiding your online conversations from your spouse or having conversations with people that you would never have face to face, then your heading down a dangerous path. My suggestion is that spouses should share their passwords with each another. My wife knows my Facebook password and can get on my account anytime to read my messages, check my inbox, etc. I can do the same with hers. There’s no good reason to keep your password secret from one another. Remember that whole idea about the two becoming one?

3. Set a time limit. OK, I admit to utter failure in this area and I’m preaching something I don’t practice, but I do know better. I sometimes think to myself that life is what happens while I’m on Facebook. Then I hit refresh and keep going. It’s really silly because virtual relationships are no substitute for real relationships. Just because we read someone’s status updates and look at their pictures we feel connected to them, but we’re not. It’s pseudo-connection. In some ways our relationship is more like that of a stalker than a friend (ouch!). Anonymously combing profiles and reading wall posts does not constitute friendship. Close the computer and pick up the phone or go to the coffee shop or go to church. Get out and talk with people. Remember how to do that?

So there’s a few rules that I’ve been thinking about. I’m wondering. What have I missed? What are some other rules I need to add to the list?

6 thoughts on “A Few Rules for Facebook Users

  1. People using it as a diary is probably the only way we can really get to know some people…. which is what our church family is "suppose" to be for…. on the spiritual side this does allow us opportunity to connect to them both privately, and through prayer. I don't necessarily view it as a bad thing "most of the time"… but more of an opportunity.I do not attend your church nor live in the Columbia area… but do greatly appreciate your time here.

  2. The first rule should be a given.I suppose the second rule is good for spouses. (I don't think I'll have to worry about that for a while.) Now the third rule is the one I most need to pay attention to. I spend way too much time on facebook. (Of course, most of it has been spent playing zooworld. I kind of wish that facebook was the way it used to be when I first started it: minimal apps) Good post. 🙂

  3. I have alot of younger FB friends who post pics of themselves partying. Dumb. Psuedo friendship is true. Which is why I plan to invite all 350 of my FB friends for Thanksgiving next year.

  4. BTW – I have told like 1000 people about this post. We even had a very interesting conversation about it last week in life group. One other rule we came up with was "No Facebook Political Commentary" Far too damaging to our witness as Christians and often times, the comments themselves are filled with anger, resentment, or even hatred toward political enemies. Not to mention that more than a few border on heresy!

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