I have been on Facebook slightly longer than most. I started out on Myspace and then for a while I managed two accounts. Eventually, though, I dropped Myspace because it was not nearly as user friendly as Facebook and the spammed solicitations were awful. FB (Facebook) has so many advantages to people like me—who want to connect with folk and communicate instantly—that it would be stupid not to utilize it as a ministry tool and in my own personal life.
What I have found though, is that as more and more people FB they have substituted FB posts for all communication. This has led to some very nasty trends. Christian people on FB have somehow gotten the notion that they can post all types of mean things about people—usually passive aggressive—with no consequences. But, there are consequences because there are only about 500 million people out there! If you rant to your dumb dog about the stupid thing your friend did, the dumb dog will not tell your friend or a mutual friend. But if you post it as your post on FB, don’t be surprised if all your friends read it and then start posting wars; all taking swipes at each other.
Emerging technologies call for emerging wisdom. I’ve devised 6 rules for the Christian Facebooker. Please note, all of them I have personally broken in the past! Experience is the best teacher.
FB Rule #1—Never post anything with dirty words or immoral innuendo. Many FB users are children and the influence we have over them should be positive, not negative.
FB Rule #2—If your post is about someone specific, it should be complimentary and not mean. What we learned from our parents is true of FB—“If you can’t post something nice, don’t post anything at all.”
FB Rule #3—Never air dirty laundry on FB. NEVER. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 that we should go to the individually personally to discuss things that are between us. If FB is your means then message them and talk it out. Do not use the “comment” line to take shot at a deacon or something like that. That is the OPPOSITE of Jesus’ command.
FB Rule #4—Be careful of the “friends” motif. A FB friend is not necessarily a friend who has your best interests at heart. Likewise, on FB you can remove a friend by simply hitting “delete.” But in the real world it is not that clean. Friendship is messy. It is impossible to terminate a relationship just by “deleting” someone.
FB Rule #5—Clarify posts. Sometimes I post serious stuff and sometimes I post silly stuff. This has caused some people to be confused. Go back and clarify—so that people understand your intent. That is the problem with printed words; it is hard to know the emotion behind them.
FB Rule #6—If you are angry, don’t post anything. EVER. Just read others and hit the like buttons and such. FBing while angry only leads to problems.
Have fun on FB, but also remember other people are watching us (that is what FB is, by definition) and our Christian witness is always under scrutiny.