Home > Culture, Mallinak > The Escapist World of Social Networking

The Escapist World of Social Networking

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And just as a reminder, this same Jesus, Whom God hath highly exalted, and given a name which is above every name, this same Jesus, that every tongue should confess as Lord, this same Jesus is Lord also of the Internet.

Social Networking is the new reality.  Friends multiply daily, and rapidly. Whether we agree with it or not, our kids are involved.  Some directly: they have their own Facebook page.  Others indirectly: they hear their friends and cousins talking about their Facebook page.  Like it or not, we are all affected by the Social Networks.  They influence our young people, they entice our old people, they affect our ministries.  Social Networking includes all the various ways of “connecting” or “communicating” via the Internet — including (but not limited to) blogs, forums, chat rooms, and so forth. But my intention is to deal directly with the issue of MySpace and Facebook. Before I begin, though, let me recommend a hilarious article on this subject… it illustrates through satire what I can only talk about.

Social Networking 101

As I understand it, Facebook and MySpace are more alike than not. Originally, Facebook was limited to the Harvard student body (A group of Harvard students invented it in their dorm rooms). It slowly expanded to other ivy league schools, then to college students (Facebook required an e-mail address with a “.edu” in order to join). Finally, in 2006, Facebook expanded to include high schoolers and eventually all users 13 and older.

MySpace, on the other hand, was created in 1999 by Tom Anderson, who (I’m told) is the first friend to join the network of every MySpace user. You might be interested to know that MySpace was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for $580 million (that $580,000,000 in Russell Anderson terms) in July, 2005.

Most of the differences between the two are merely surface differences. From what I can see, there are differences between who uses them, how they are used, and the features that are available. More women use MySpace than Facebook (by about 4%). College educated, career-oriented, and suburbanite people tend to use Facebook, while teens and inner-city people tend to use MySpace.

Some have said that the more creative types tend to gravitate towards MySpace, and that the pencil-pushers and account handlers tend to like Facebook. That could be the result of some of the user-features of the two. MySpace allows more control of user profiles by the individual, enabling a user to be more creative. This design feature often leads to a very amateur and cluttered “look and feel.” Facebook profiles tend to be more uniform. Also, many MySpace users will use a pseudonym of some sort, or will attempt to hide their true identity. This has made MySpace more of a hotbed for sexual predators.  I have not been able to verify this, but a friend told me that within the last six weeks, MySpace removed 90,000 sexual predators.  As I understand it, Facebook will remove any user that they have good reason to suspect is using a fake identity.

As far as I can tell, these are the major differences between the two. And, as I said earlier, they are more alike than they are different. Both have a stated purpose — to connect people. MySpace is more likely to connect total strangers, while Facebook tends to connect people with mutual backgrounds. Both are all about promoting the self.

And both are highly addictive. The information I have on this is a little over a year old… but in October of 2007, MySpace and Facebook were both in the top 10 domains visited on the web. MySpace accounted for just under 5% of all Internet visits. Facebook for 1% of all Internet visits. I realize that this is old information.  As I understand it, Facebook is quickly overtaking MySpace in popularity.  but the point is that when you consider that these two represent just 2 domains on the Internet, the numbers are phenomenal. In addition, the people who frequent these places tend to spend hours going from one friend to another to another. It is the Internet version of bar-hopping.

Slumber Partying 101

At our youth camp this last year, in a discussion of these Social Networks, I made the comment that MySpace reminded me of a giant, virtual slumber party. In fact, I find the whole idea of young men frequenting these social networks to be very troubling — and I think it leads towards effeminacy. To further illustrate my point, Facebook has what is called a “status” feature, where users note how they are doing or feeling at any particular moment. MySpace has also added a “mood” option. It reminds me of those mood rings that people wore back in the ’80′s.  You’ll have to excuse me if you did that, but I was always a little weirded out by guys who wore mood rings.  Especially if they wore one on their pinky.  And played the piano.  Or wore leather pants.  But that’s just me.  I do think there is something very effeminate about a guy who wants the world to know what mood he is in.

But if we are to deal with the larger issues surrounding the virtual world of the Internet, we really must discuss the voyeuristic and escapist elements of Social Networking.  We must understand that Social Networking is a cultural issue.  It is but the next step in a culture consumed with itself.  And, naturally, with amusing itself to death.

With that in mind, MySpace and Facebook are first and foremost voyeuristic.  This is in keeping with the times, to be sure.  We live in a supremely voyeuristic age. We much prefer watching to doing.  We like reality shows.  We love American Idol.  We like to watch people try and we like to watch people fail.  We like to watch the making of the next Elvis.  And, considering the rampant obesity that afflicts our youth, we must be more into watching than into doing.  Consider our fetish with pornography, with video games, with spectator sports.  And, consider our fixation with MySpace and Facebook, a fixation that has made these domains million dollar industries.

There is something effeminate about all this video stuff… guys who are the big heroes on the virtual gridiron, who couldn’t stay in for a set of downs on a real football field. The Bible commands our boys to “act like a man” (I Cor 16:13). Among other things, this requires some real action on their part. It also requires diligence — associated with doing, not with voyeurism. What are video games associated with? Industry, or sloth? And what about Social Networking? Instead of video games and social networking, we must teach our young people how to play some real sports and real games, how to make some real friendships, how to be a real friend, and how to build a real friendship.  In the realm of social networking, voyeurism meets friendship.  We no longer try to be a friend.  We now try to get friends.  We try to “friend” people.  We have become watchers of friendship.

Secondly, Fakebook and MyFace are escapist.  Consider this quote from the New York Times online edition…

Facebook purports to be a place for human connectivity, but it’s made us more wary of real human confrontation. When I was in college, people always warned against the dangers of “Facebook stalking” at a library computer — the person whose profile you’re perusing might be right behind you. Dwelling online is a cowardly and utterly enjoyable alternative to real interaction.

So even though Facebook offers an elaborate menu of privacy settings, many of my friends admit that the only setting they use is the one that prevents people from seeing that they are Currently Logged In. Perhaps we fear that the Currently Logged In feature advertises to everyone else that we (too!) are Currently Bored, Lustful, Socially Unfulfilled or Generally Avoiding Real Life.

For young people, Facebook is yet another form of escapism; we can turn our lives into stage dramas and relationships into comedy routines. Make believe is not part of the postgraduate Facebook user’s agenda. As more and more older users try to turn Facebook into a legitimate social reference guide, younger people may follow suit and stop treating it as a circus ring. But let’s hope not.

Friendship 101

We have all sorts of virtual friends… but do we have any real ones? Having lots of friends (which I understand is one of the goals of networking) hinders many from having any sort of real relationships.  The social networking scene is the gathering place of the socially unfulfilled, where people go to escape reality, to escape friendship. Besides being effeminate, the escapism embodied in social networking is yet another form of abdication… a way of shrugging off duties.

When we think of real friendship, the kind that involves real people in real time in a real world, we have real duties and obligations that we really must meet.  It has been rightly pointed out that virtual friendships, those that involve pixels rather than people, provide absolutely zero opportunity for fulfillment of those duties and obligations.  That is not to say that people who have Facebook relationships never venture beyond the virtual and into the real, nor is it to say that they cannot.  Just that neither Facebook nor MySpace require a person to venture beyond the profile.  Facebook enables a person to escape loving his neighbor through long ‘friend’ lists.

Beyond that, Facebook is a place where a person can go to escape the pressures and responsibilities and problems of this life.  If a man would have friends, he must show himself friendly.  This requires him to do.  But in the world of Facebook, one must leave the virtual on purpose, and enter the real world if he is to do his duty as a friend.  Facebook provides fake friendship.  Facebook friendships have all the depth of a spray-on tan.  They look like friendship, but Facebook friendships are ended the way a spray-on tan is ended.  One need not explain.  One simply needs to delete.

If there ever were a day in which we need to re-learn the real-world work of friendship, it is in this day.  Our culture is dying of loneliness and starvation.  Ironically, we die this way in a day of ‘overpopulation’ and ‘overcrowding.’  We don’t know our neighbors, but we have thousands of friends.  We haven’t done anything for anybody, but we have thousands of friends.  We don’t love anybody, but we have thousands of friends.

Friendship, as we said, requires work.  The man who attempts to escape the work of friendship in the real world will have no friends.  A man that hath friends must give way.  The self-centered will find few real friends.  And yet, somehow in the world of Facebook, the most narcissist and self-absorbed among us are the ones with pages and pages of virtual friends.  That fact alone should wake us up to the reality of virtual friendship.  It is a form of escapism, and not true friendship.

Addictions Anonymous (101)

Besides the voyeuristic and escapist elements of social networking, these things are also very addictive. Those who spend a considerable amount of time blogging might have an idea of the addictive nature of the Internet.  It is a difficult thing to put up a comment and then to walk away from it.  And that is in a cross-section of the Internet that leans towards serious discussion and debate.  How much more so is this true in a venue that calls, not for serious commentary, but for techno-grunts and lol’s and rotlmfho’s, and “like, cool, and stuff.”  Virtually all of the features of the MySpace world encourage more MySpace.  And we must remember that I Corinthians 10:23 and 6:12 apply to the Internet as much as they apply to anything else.

Finally, social networking is degenerative… it always tends towards entropy.  Just like in the teen-aged slumber party scene (something that godly parents should conscientiously avoid), the conversation tends to move in a specific direction.  We don’t expect to hear our teen-aged daughters, sleeping bags stretched across the living room, immersed in a discussion of William Shakespeare.  Nor do we expect to find that sort of conversation anywhere in the social networks.  I like this quote from Douglas Wilson in the most recent edition of his Credenda/Agenda, referring to what he called the Internet version of the slumber party (Facebook and MySpace):

“In any setting, when kids get together without parental direction and supervision, two things will happen – and they will happen for the same reason that weeds grow in your garden. The first will be that the conversation will drift downward into the silly and inane. Once that tone is set and established, some people will introduce some real sin. They will wait a bit to introduce it because teens steeped in the silly and inane are not equipped to stand up to real sin. Laziness is not preparation for battle, and so when battles do come to the lazy, they are usually short battles. Silly and inane conversation revolves around trivialities, superficial feelings, flatteries, flirting, and so on.”

This is the kind of thing that fills pages and pages of Facebook and MySpace.  It is the reason why these places are so attractive.  It is the reason why even adults, longing to escape their own miserable reality, enjoy the virtual world.  It is the reason why these places are so addictive.  And it is the reason why we must be on our guard at all times when we enter into the realm of the Virtual Relationship.  Sin will be introduced.  It is not a question of ‘whether,’ but of ‘when.’  At some point, that immodestly dressed girl is going to hit on your son.  Or, maybe, on you.  These sites do not move in a direction towards more sanctification and holiness.

As we interact on the Internet, we must remember that God promises to judge our every word — even the idle ones. Especially the idle ones. Is there a lawful use for Social Networking? Certainly… among family, keeping in touch, even for witness.  Just that this is not the common use for such places.  We must then set a watch before our lips (and our keyboards).  And we must be sure that we do all things to the glory of God.

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  1. March 6, 2009 at 7:39 am | #1

    In fact, I find the whole idea of young men frequenting these social networks to be very troubling — and I think it leads towards effeminacy. To further illustrate my point, Facebook has what is called a “status” feature, where users note how they are doing or feeling at any particular moment. MySpace has also added a “mood” option. … I do think there is something very effeminate about a guy who wants the world to know what mood he is in.
    You think it leads towards effeminacy? Really? And how exactly do you gather this? How many young men have you spoken to who have frequented MySpace or Facebook? How did you determine that they were effeminate and that a social network site caused them to be effeminate? This is a bit of a spectacular claim, that needs to be explored some more. How precisely is it effeminate to let people know your mood, or to be on a social network site? Furthermore, as far as the “Status” in Facebook is concerned, I think you have totally the wrong idea of what it is and how people use it. Sure, some people use it to tell the world what mood they’re in, but not everybody does, and even if they do, they don’t do it all the time. Let’s take a look at some of the latest updates I can see from my friends.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX- wants to know… What are you thankful for today, and why?
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-Is at an IFMA conference at IUPUI for the day.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-is reading and ready for a round of golf.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-Is going to play basketball!!!
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-took a break from sermon prep and looked back thru albums of Israel trips. The difference a dozen well-placed years can make . .
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart, naught be else to me save but thou art.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXX-The more complete the despotism, the more smoothly all things move on the surface.
    Now some of those status updates are from women, some are from men. None of them are effeminate. I see a lot of people use their status updates to promote something they are working on for church, they post Bible verses, famous quotes, etc.
    The problem is, that you’re making blanket statements as if this is true of all or most of people who use social networking sites, without any foundation.

    Having lots of friends (which I understand is one of the goals of networking) hinders many from having any sort of real relationships.
    Perhaps among teeny-boppers. Teeny-boppers will just add anybody willy-nilly, which is why parents need to A)teach their children how to do right, preferably before they get old enough to want to use a social networking site, and B)have their child’s password and be able to look at their Facebook page(I’d never recommend MySpace for either adults or teenagers, even though MySpace is more the teenage site).

    We don’t know our neighbors, but we have thousands of friends. We haven’t done anything for anybody, but we have thousands of friends. We don’t love anybody, but we have thousands of friends.
    And I don’t think Social Network sites can be attributed as the cause of this problem. They may make the problem worse, but I don’t think they are the cause of the problem.

    Finally, social networking is degenerative… it always tends towards entropy. Just like in the teen-aged slumber party scene (something that godly parents should conscientiously avoid), the conversation tends to move in a specific direction. We don’t expect to hear our teen-aged daughters, sleeping bags stretched across the living room, immersed in a discussion of William Shakespeare. Nor do we expect to find that sort of conversation anywhere in the social networks.
    YOU may not expect to find serious conversations on Facebook, but I frequently encounter them. Sure, there’s the trivial conversations, and there’s also the serious. I’ve had a number of good discussions centered on Biblical themes from my friends at church on Facebook. I’ve had a number of good political discussions and the ramifications of what’s going on in our world with friends on Facebook.

    I really think that a lot of the issues discussed here are issues which teenagers have primarily, as opposed to those who are older. But they are being unfairly applied to all, without any serious backing. Most of what has been attributed to all Facebookers and MySpacers lies within the realm of the children who inhabit these places. This is an extremely unfair broadbrushing of the entirety of these communities.

    Can social networking be addictive? I’m sure it can. I know computer geeks who have most of their interaction with others via social networking. It wasn’t caused by these sites, it was made worse by these sites. You’re right, we can’t allow these sites to replace human interaction, but really–who does that? Aside from the aforementioned computer geeks who have no friends in the real world.

    Are social network sites a problem for young people? Definitely. I would advise parents not to allow their children to use social networking sites until they are old enough to use it wisely. Make sure you know who their friends are. Watch what they post and what their friends post.

    Are social network sites a problem for people who have gotten past the youth stage? Barring any problems already present in their life, no, probably not. If they already have social problems in their life, Facebook is probably something they shouldn’t use.

  2. March 6, 2009 at 8:53 am | #2

    Many people (especially young people) who connect online tend to be disconnected with God and the things of God (i.e. parents, pastors, and church). Great topic this month Jackhammer…hammer on.

  3. Chris
    March 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm | #3

    Great article. I definately agree that facebook and myspace seem to have a negative affect on young men. They seem much more effeminate.
    Young men are commanded to be sober minded not depressed, happy, giddy, sad, calm, and then depressed again.
    We are seeing a generation who can text, chat, and facebook but dont function well infront of live human beings,

  4. Steve
    March 6, 2009 at 3:16 pm | #4

    I agree with Bro Hardecker and Chris. This article certainly the one found at Bro Brandenburg’s website clearly illustrate the ills behind these social networking websites.

    I believe as I stated before that:

    A)women in general are more prone to become addicted to these sites their innate need for interaction is fed. In doing so they risk being fed extra biblical bruhaha and obviously neglected devotional time.

    and

    B)that these websites discourage physical interaction (even e mail). I miss the times when the Pastor would come over to the family’s house to sit and enjoy a meal and some fellowship. Now we just debate our soteriology over twitter or facebook et all. theres no face time involved.

    Sure we could stand to gain. We could web conference with fellow brethren across the states with no problem. But, I remain firm these websites are more harm than good.

    Very good article.

    R/S

    Bro Steve

    Gal 2.20

  5. March 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm | #5

    Great one about being sober-minded, Chris. I agree with Dave that these things tend to promote an effeminate attitude among men. The whole idea of having to update all of my contacts as to what I’m doing seems silly to me. I’m a husband, father of six, pastor, student, etc. I’ve got a lot more to deal with than “expressing my emotions” using little faces on the internet.

  6. March 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm | #6

    We can’t be afraid to say something is effeminate if it is. I think that it is entirely merciful and loving especially to point out a behavior that is effeminate especially without calling someone effeminate. We need to sort through what is feminine behavior and what is masculine. In Job, twice, gird up your loins like a man. Some things are like a woman and some things are like a man. When 1 Cor forbids the effeminate, we’re assumed to know what that is. I believe we do and we shouldn’t be afraid to say what it is. It’s a loving thing to do to train boys to be men and tell them what is effeminate behavior, so they can avoid it.

    • memphiswill
      March 6, 2009 at 5:21 pm | #7

      And how exactly is Facebook “effeminate” behavior? It has yet to be outlined how participating in Facebook or MySpace is effeminate.

  7. March 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm | #8

    Will Dudding,

    Dave did not say that participating in Facebook or MySpace is effeminate. Read what he said and try dealing with that instead of just seeing a word and reacting emotionally, please. Thanks.

    • memphiswill
      March 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm | #9

      Bobby Doodle, He stated that participating in such sites leads to being effeminate. I am not reacting emotionally, I’m asking him to back up his statements.

  8. March 6, 2009 at 8:47 pm | #10

    Will,

    I don’t really know how to interact with a grown man who has been ordained who addresses another man as “Bobby Doodle.” This is further evidence of some of the pitfalls of trying to deal with people in cyber-space. I’m hopeful that you would not behave this way in “the real world.” I think that wisdom would direct me to exit any further conversation with you.

    • memphiswill
      March 6, 2009 at 11:03 pm | #11

      Bobby,

      Apparently you have mistaken me for someone with the last name “Dudding”(as per Kent’s post below). My apologies for retorting with “Bobby Doodle”.

  9. March 6, 2009 at 10:47 pm | #12

    Bobby, Will Dudding and MemphisWill are two different people. I don’t think MemphisWill is a pastor. Will Dudding is, but he hasn’t participated in this thread. I think Will of Memphis was angry for you calling him “Dudding,” so he called you “Doodle” as a means of getting back at you. Yours was a simple mistake. His was something else.

    MemphisWill,

    Dave was pretty specific. He said, he thought a few activities of participation were effeminate:
    1—telling what mood you’re in;
    2—frequenting social networks
    3—playing games on video but not competing in actual physical games
    4—escapism.

    He was very specific about what he said was effeminate.

    • memphiswill
      March 6, 2009 at 11:02 pm | #13

      Dave was only specific as to what activities he thought were effeminate. He wasn’t specific about how those activities can be considered effeminate. Simply saying that something is effeminate, doesn’t make it so. I could make the claim that blogging is effeminate, as opposed to actually saying what one has to say in person. But just because I say it, that doesn’t make it true. That’s my entire problem with the discussion. Saying that engaging in certain activities is (fill in the blank) without providing evidence isn’t much of an argument. IMHO.

    • March 7, 2009 at 7:19 am | #14

      Thanks for the explanation. I was confusing Will of “reformed fundamentalists with Will of “reformed Baptist.”

  10. March 7, 2009 at 9:13 am | #15

    Will,

    I”ll talk about this more, but I am in a rush. I’ll lay these out, but I’m going to ask you. How do you see it is possible that the four examples Dave gave are effeminate? Could you think through it yourself? I see it and others do too. You don’t. I do think we are losing our ability to discern in this culture. Part of it is the postmodernism.

  11. Dave Barnhart
    March 7, 2009 at 11:45 am | #16

    I guess I’m also unclear what about those activities could be considered effeminate.

    On 1, I don’t usually tell people what mood I’m in, because I’m sure that in most cases, they couldn’t really care less. But if I mentioned that I’m feeling pretty good or feeling down to friends of mine, maybe I just want to share my good feelings, or I want some counsel. I can’t see how sharing good feelings is effeminate, seeing as how that is usually done in spades by those after a good game of ice hockey (not an effeminate sport), and you do have to open up even if it’s uncomfortable to be able to share your burdens with one another.

    On 2, I don’t usually do that either, except to check on my kids who are allowed to have Facebook accounts with restrictions. I’m one of those who don’t really care (most of the time) what people are thinking and saying about themselves or about me, but I’ve met plenty of men I wouldn’t describe as effeminate that do. It seems to me that quality is more associated with pride or fear than with effeminacy.

    On 3, I admit I enjoy video games and I don’t really enjoy playing football, but I do hang glide, the idea of which makes most self-puffed-up macho types turn green just thinking about it. Does being thin and not wanting to get beat up unless absolutely necessary make one effeminate?

    On 4, I might agree that wanting to escape from the real world all the time is not a good way for a Christian to think, but what makes that trait more feminine than masculine?

    All in all, I think the connection between the above activities and effeminacy would need to be fleshed out a lot more. On that point, I have to say I’m with Will.

  12. March 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm | #17

    Dave and Will,

    I’m back and I’ll examine these with you, although I have a hard time believing that you don’t understand.

    1—telling what mood you’re in

    Moodiness is emotional weakness. Women are more emotional than men, hence more moods. If you are in charge of your own emotions, then you aren’t going to vary in your emotions. When men aren’t being this way, they aren’t being strong, which Scripture tells men to be. It also says that the woman is the weaker vessel, which is some kind of weakness, and I believe we understand it is physical and emotional weakness mainly. I can say more, but do I need to?

    2—frequenting social networks

    When you read the descriptions of female problems in scripture, they tend toward this direction. Facebook members are 55-45 women, and this despite men being far greater in computer knowledge.

    http://www.bizzia.com/buzznetworker/gender-gap-in-social-media-more-women-involved-in-web20/

    3—playing games on video but not competing in actual physical games

    Girding up the loins like a man is speaking of physical activity. Since you do that like a man, it is masculine.

    4—escapism.

    Reading Fiction

    ‘Preference for stories over informational texts was expressed by a greater percentage of girls than boys (59 to 55%): a bias that was even more marked in relation to the… statement, ‘I like reading stories.’ Here, 89% of girls agreed, as against 68% of boys.’

    (Source: The Knowsley Reading Project Using Trained Helpers Effectively, NFER 1996)

    Reading Non-fiction

    ‘Boys’ stronger preference for non-fiction revealed itself …when provided with a list of genres from which to select. 28% of boys chose non-fiction as one of their top three genres, but only 13% of girls did so.

    (Source: The Knowsley Reading Project Using Trained Helpers Effectively, NFER 1996)

    Boys’ preference for non fiction is echoed in the Exeter Extending Literacy Project (EXEL) Boys were more likely than girls to be reading non-fiction books (47 boys/36 girls 56.6%/43.3%) but there was a more marked gender difference in choosing information books as ‘best’ with 44 boys making such as choice whilst only 27 girls did so (61.9%/38.0%).

    (Source: EXEL Project, working paper No 2)

  13. March 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm | #18

    I agree that social networking has its dangers, and I agree that we should be warned of them, which is why the article bothers me: weak criticisms and warnings can be counterproductive. Persons who need the warnings most seem likely to read the article; perceive that the author does not understand the services; object to the sweeping, unsupported generalizations about the services; and leave thinking (incorrectly) that such weaknesses somehow justify their own positions.

    MemphisWill and Dave have raised a number of good points about weaknesses with points in the article. I will add one other one. The article asserts, “MySpace and Facebook are first and foremost voyeuristic.” Really? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “voyeuristic” as follows:

    1: one obtaining sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts; broadly: one who habitually seeks sexual stimulation by visual means

    2: a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous

    How does MySpace and Facebook fit this definition? The article does not say. The assertion is unsupported. From the rest of the paragraph, I wonder whether the intended point actually relates to something other than voyeurism.

    Let me be clear. I am not out to defend MySpace and Facebook. I am out to challenge us to be clear and careful in how we articulate doctrines and dangers so that we can communicate them effectively.

  14. March 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm | #19

    Brent,

    I know Dave is out of the country, so I’m carrying his water here, but I think your overall point is valid, that is, better support for such a strong word instead of generalities. I’m sure he means mainly the second part of the dictionary definition, although with the creeps on the internet, I think it is the first part in certain instances, especially in light of stories we read. Regarding the second definition, I think he refers to the craze of reality shows that seem to be coming along at the same time as these social networking sites. I believe there is a tie there. When I joined facebook, I had people coming out of the woodwork, who never liked me in real life, asking me to be my friend. I had so many like that, I couldn’t help but think that they mainly wanted to see what information I had on my page.

    You said that you side with Will and Dave. Fine. They really went after the one point—effeminate. I don’t think I saw them go after voyeurism.

    You make a worthy challenge for clear and careful articulation. I’ll let Dave make his own defense on that.

    • artdunham
      March 7, 2009 at 6:58 pm | #20

      Brother Kent,

      Personally, I agree with the overall “weird” feeling that I get from men who share their feelings with the world. As one who is in general agreement with what you are both proposing on this thread, I still have a few questions. I will await further posts with my emotions firmly intact.

      As Dave is out of the country, I will not ask you to answer for his assertions, but I also believe the terms need to be better defined.

  15. March 7, 2009 at 7:01 pm | #21

    Thanks for the posts, Dave and Kent. You have presented very serious thoughts for very serious parents and pastors who wonder just where the whole Facebook and MySpace culture is taking us. I am wondering where it will go, and more importantly if it will cost me my kids to get there.

  16. March 7, 2009 at 7:27 pm | #22

    Art and Don,

    Thanks. As I write more on this, I will be unpacking, hopefully, a root problem within social networking. I’ve touched on it over on my own blog, but Dave providentially chose this as our topic over here too, so I continue on this subject.

  17. reglerjoe
    March 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm | #23

    Kent: “When I joined facebook, I had people coming out of the woodwork, who never liked me in real life, asking me to be my friend. I had so many like that, I couldn’t help but think that they mainly wanted to see what information I had on my page.”

    That’s funny.

  18. March 8, 2009 at 4:49 pm | #24

    We no longer try to be a friend. We now try to get friends.

    I can definitely see this aspect of Facebook from my limited exposure to it. I do have a Facebook account – due to the influence of a friend from church (who has since moved away), but I rarely use it or look at it. It seems that old acquaintances or even some relatives that make no effort to maintain a friendship (no calls, no emails, no writing, etc.), suddenly want to be added as a “friend.”

    For example, some guy I knew when I was 8 or 9 years old, lost the friendship through my own stupidity, then moved away, now contacted me almost 30 years later. He wanted to add me as a friend – but there is no friendship there. From what he has posted and stated in his one or two emails, I don’t think I want to keep in touch – unless he lets me witness to him in our contact (otherwise I have no real reason for staying in touch).

    Most of the notices I get in my email from my Facebook account are things like: Do you want to join this random cause, someone wrote something inane on your wall, or someone has sent you a (pick one) coffee/puppy/easter egg, etc. I have also found navigating around in Facebook to be difficult. Send me an email instead – and after I read it, I can choose to respond – but don’t add me to some social network that is pseudo-Christian (or worse), that is just wasted time to follow up on.

    Should I add more random friends? Either my memory is really going, or people are just adding me willy-nilly – because more than half of the friend requests I get I have no clue who they are. Of course, when you are on a message board or email list, often you don’t learn someone’s real name or their full name, so I might really get along great with some people but have no clue who Bowser The Second and Bible-Lover really are.

  19. March 8, 2009 at 9:20 pm | #25

    Bowser The Second and Bible-Lover

    Names have been randomly changed to protect the guilty… ;)

  20. March 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm | #26

    It is my understanding, and I may be wrong, that there are definite differences between being feminine and being effeminate. I think of a feminine person as acting like a woman—which is good for women, don’t get me wrong. I think of an effeminate person as thinking like a woman.

    Our culture has a definite problem with effeminacy. We are generally prone to think like women. Among other things, that includes depending on appearances and feelings.

  21. March 9, 2009 at 12:50 am | #27

    Jerry,

    Very funny.

    Jeff,

    I’ve never thought about it in that way. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I guess I thought effeminate was the whole range of woman-like traits. Talking, acting, and thinking. Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong. I just hadn’t heard that.

  22. March 10, 2009 at 8:47 am | #28

    “Our culture has a definite problem with effeminacy. We are generally prone to think like women. Among other things, that includes depending on appearances and feelings.”

    That seems a little too simplistic a statement. Masculinity is not by its nature disheveled and mechanical. The well-mannered gentleman is mocked in our culture, though such a person could be described as being concerned about both appearance and feelings (though not as ends to themselves). For that matter, I don’t think that it is accurate to say that caring about personal appearance and feelings is closely tied to being a woman. A well-mannered lady retains femininity without being self-absorbed.

  23. March 18, 2009 at 7:15 am | #29

    We as Pastors/Teachers of the Word, must have done a very poor job in preaching the Word of God, that our members can’t be on Facebook or any other of the current mediums in which to communicate, like Blogger, or websites, or WordPress, etc. and not fall prey to the wilds of the devil. I am amazed how we can warm our members of all the harm these sites will cause. I didn’t have any idea that such harm could come upon unexpected Christians who have been taught the Word of God.

    I am not sure that the percent of good or better Christian servants will increase if they stay off these social networking sites. Since these sites are just a few years old we have not had the time to figure out if they will further damage our Christians life style. I have seen over the last 50 years a decline in behavior without these social websites.

    I would be the first to say, we need to teach Christians how to use these sites for better than worst. They are here to stay, as is the TV, DVD, Websites, Iphone, etc. therefore we need to teach how to use them for better.

    You have this website, you use the same form of communication that the world does, and yet you have used the form for the betterment. Telling people to stay off Facebook, etc, is not the key to getting Christians on track. You and I know many would never have been on any of these forms, and are in as bad a condtion spiritually as those who might be.

    Therefore you and I have a responsibility to help our people to focus on Christ and his righteousness in any form of communication. Give than a good reason to use them.

  24. January 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm | #30

    Not done reading this, yet, but these are intriguing ideas. Just wanted to point out though that social networking isn’t just limited to the top sites you mentioned; even THIS is a form of social networking

    The exchange of ideas on the internet, no matter the content or targeted audience, is a form of a social network. “Social networks” have become abstracted lately (and probably for eternity) to mean a “network of friends”. Friends aren’t always whom we exchange ideas with. I’m sure a number of people use similar “social networks” to communicate ideas with colleagues and with management, like LinkedIn or whatever this Tumblr is (might want to look that one up).

    It’s true that a number of us use these networking sites a little too much (me included), but can we say it’s Facebook’s fault? I don’t think so. How can we say that it wasn’t our inadequacies in real life that drew us in to these sites? A perfect example of this is a documentary called Catfish (a must see). Not to ruin too much of the movie, but, how are the “sacrifices [Anglea] had to make in order to have a family and a stable life,” (Wikipedia 2011) not a legitimate reason to escape into her own world?

    And secondly, what do you define as masculine? As radical an idea as it may seem, but definitions of masculinity are different from culture to culture. Any sociologist can recognize this and to ignore it is an act of intellectual dishonesty. So to say that expressing one’s feelings is not masculine is wrong and also hypocritical. Because again, also radical as it may seem, but abstracted: THIS is a form of “expressing” your feelings (more directly, at social networks).

    Can’t wait to read more.

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