In the wake of recent Facebook security breaches, in which many account users’ personal information was compromised, the stock price of Facebook took a major fall, costing its founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg billions of dollars.
The sudden drop in Facebook’s stock price has been accompanied by people, many of whom have grown weary and leery of the social media giant, cancelling their accounts.
Yet, Facebook remains the largest social media platform in the world, having acquired more than 2 billion users worldwide since its founding in 2004.
A few years after Facebook became popular, preacher and author John Piper said, “I see two kinds of response to social media like… Facebook. One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.”
Piper then said, “The other response (to social media) says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.”
Now almost 10 years after Piper’s post, we are feeling all of the negative effects he described. But what about the promises and positive potential of social media he mentioned?
A recent BBC report suggests that social media continues to be a dark place, where people experience more anxiety and depression, as well as increased levels of stress. These issues are compounded by the fact that marital infidelity happens on Facebook, and tragic opportunities for criminal or predatory activities have been created.
As we pause to think about all of these issues, we have to ask, should Christians do a mass exodus from social media? The case could be made that the drawbacks of social media like Facebook are too great and that any attempts to redeem it are a casting of our pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6).
I, for one, would advise anyone who is not involved with social media to stay off of it, especially children and youth. For those who do engage in social media, I would encourage caution and a charge to be on social media with the Gospel mission in mind.
After all, if social media is a place where many people in need of Christ reside, Christians have the obligation to go where the people are and be the light of Christ. What could that look like?
The next time you see a lot of bickering and arguing on Facebook, don’t add to it but instead stop to pray. If you see someone down or depressed, look at that as an opportunity to share God’s Word with them.
We know that God’s Word has the power to transform lives. Long after Facebook is a thing of the past, the Bible will continue to shine like light in the darkness, achieving the Lord’s purposes wherever it goes. And isn’t it a joy to know that in past and future generations, the Bible—our “Faithbook”—has more power and eternal influence than Facebook ever could?