I’ve noticed that Facebook is abuzz of late with a lot of people who want to talk about this sin, or that sin, or condemn people for talking about certain sins, so I decided to have a little fun and write a little piece called “The Seven Deadly Facebook Sins.” Why am I doing this? Too many people keep making sin about one thing or another, as if they don’t have any. When they decide to start a crusade against one thing, they themselves often start sinning themselves. I’ve seen way too many Facebook debates get out of hand because nobody wants to back off or deal with the fact that this medium reveals a host of issues that tend to exist within ourselves, yet we don’t want to deal with them.
I’m going to start by saying the following: Contrary to popular belief, I think Facebook – and our own relationships with God and one another – could greatly benefit from some self-restraint on Facebook. You do not have to comment on everything that comes across your feed. In the same vain, you do not have to post every single thought you have in your status bar. We all have every right to, quite frankly, shut up. The new digital world has made it so people can say whatever they want without being face-to-face with people, and it has created an entire new generational-wide issue of plain rudeness. There is a reason the Bible tells us “there is a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:x), and that “time to be silent” comes first. Every single one of us could benefit from some “silent pause” before we ever post something anywhere on the internet. I think more relevantly, however, every single one of us needs to consider our own personal actions online. It’s easy to start arguments with people about subjects without really considering the issues behind them. In that vain, I write this with self-examination in mind…how are you on the “seven deadly Facebook sins?”
Gossip – The internet started as a way for tech guys to share information with each other. It has now turned into a full-fledged vehicle for information transmission. This includes false as well as true information. Remember all the photos circulating that Morgan Freeman and Jim Carey were dead? How about the endless statuses about not joining certain groups or posting certain pictures online because they trigger pedophiles? None of that nonsense is true – but it all has circulated via the Facebook online rumor mills. If you step back and consider how much internet time is spent spreading stories, rumors, and gossip, it’s actually rather scary. If you see something like that – to avoid spreading false information – look it up first. If you’re on Facebook and you are sharing false stories, rumors, posting statuses obviously about people you cover and not issues (even if you’re not mentioning names), posting certain statuses airing out people’s dirty laundry, sharing personal details about other people’s lives, talking about what you don’t like about your leader to everyone on your friends’ list, and sometimes, even calling out names – you’re gossiping, angel face! Oh, and did I forget to mention – GOSSIP IS STILL A SIN. Stop using Facebook to talk about other people in your lives behind their backs – or sometimes, even right in front of them.
Arrogance – The amount of arrogance I see on Facebook and other social networking sites really astonishes me. It is pure arrogance to presume you have the right to impose your beliefs, will, and perspectives on everyone else, simply because they are online, too. It’s arrogant to start fights with others who are online because the two of you disagree on certain things. Let’s get a couple of things straight: the internet represents people around the world, and you are going to meet people who disagree with you on issues. There are two ways to handle this. The first is agreeing to disagree, and the second is deleting individuals if you find their position disagreeable or distasteful – in a quiet and polite way. Not sitting on someone’s page, badgering them and arguing with them because you don’t feel they are right. Yes, I agree that some people on here are just nasty, some people don’t follow proper internet etiquette, and some people just disgrace “Christian” all together. That’s why we have “delete” buttons, and the option to block people who get extremely out of line, if it becomes necessary. We have every right to decide who we want on our page and who we do not. The second thing I have to say on arrogance, and forgive me if this sounds any which way: you are not God. You, as a person, do not have the right to tell people what they can or cannot post on their pages, how it should or should not sound, or generally instruct people in online governance, as if they are idiots who can’t figure it out for themselves. You are not better than anyone else, you do not have all the answers for human problems within your arsenal of opinions, and stop expecting everyone to bow down to you because you are the Chief Apostolic Evangelistical Prophetic First Bishop of the Internet.
Pride – Akin to arrogance is pride, or the belief by which people esteem themselves far higher than they should. I know firsthand the internet can be a deceptive medium by which we believe people to be more important in reality than they are, but there is a difference between thinking someone is something and someone perpetuating that notion. Too often Christian leaders are using the internet to perpetrate an appearance of self-importance that does not exist, and then non-believers, nominal Christians, and people who prefer to look really long and hard at Christianity in an attempt to find dishonesties in it have their perfect excuse that “all Christians are bad.” Humility and honesty go a long way online, just like they do offline, as well. Stop sitting on the internet, acting like you’re really providing some kind of service to the universe by providing everyone with your opinions. Oh, and make sure if you’ve got a title, those “opinions” as relate to spiritual things can be found somewhere within the Word.
Selfishness – I had a woman who, not all that long ago, kept inboxing me throughout the day telling me she needed someone to “cry” with her. When I got real with her and said, “You know what – I don’t know why this is your need, I am happy to pray for you, but I am not going to sit on here and cry with you all day” she got mad at me. It is my own belief that the internet has spawned the uncovering of intense selfishness in people who are using the internet to fuel pride, self-importance, and arrogance. We see numerous myths – ministers should just get rolled over all the time, we should be willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice to help people, even if they are wasting our time, we should do everything for free, and we should never want or expect time for ourselves – very frequently perpetrated online. It doesn’t help that proud and arrogant ministers help perpetuate these notions by judging ministers who speak up on such matters, even though they don’t do a single thing to meet these expectations and myths. It’s hard to list all of the different ways people are selfish on here, but it is selfish to take from people and never give anything back, just because you feel it’s the internet and you shouldn’t have to. It’s selfish to expect people to meet your endless demands for discussion, free “inbox” counseling, time, or to manage your problems for you. It’s selfish to add people to your groups without permission, to ignore the rules of the groups you choose to be a part of, to make someone else’s status all about you and how you feel about it, to post about your issues on someone else’s personal page or fan page, to advertise for your business, company, fellowship, denomination, or whatever else you call it on someone’s personal page or fan page, or to expect the whole world do to something for you because you “liked” something of theirs. Really, this is the internet, it’s not all about you, and I am not just going to “like” something, follow something, or entertain it because you want me to. Have consideration for other people’s thoughts, feelings, and “personal space,” “personal space” being their walls. Stop thinking what you have to offer is the most important, unique, innovative thing that ever was, because odds are good, it’s not. You have a page, you have groups, you have fan pages – advertise your stuff on your own “personal spaces” and afford others the opportunity to do so.
Perversion – Perversion is a serious internet problem but I am not going to use this blog to moralize on sites that are created to entertain such because they exist only as people choose to patronize them. Facebook, however, has become a haven for unspoken perversion that many people are not expecting, nor prepared, to handle. Do not come on Facebook and expect us to entertain you when you’re just looking for the site because you want a date or you are looking for someone to marry you but you are going about it in the wrong ways. First: PUT SOME CLOTHES ON IN YOUR PROFILE PICTURES!!!!! I don’t want to look at anyone half-naked on here. If you’re prophet, apostle, evangelist, pastor, teacher, bishop, Christian, anti-titles, so-and-so, you can’t tell me you were so heavy in the Spirit this morning that you just forgot to put on some pants before you took your Facebook photo. Second, stop inboxing people you don’t even know, telling them to send you pictures of themselves and you’ll send them pictures of you. Third, stop sitting around commenting on the body parts of famous and not-so-famous people under the guise of “holiness.” That’s not holiness, that’s your filthy mind at work. Fourth, stop using this medium to pervade your own lusts – I don’t care what they are and I am not going to list them all here – just stop coming on here to act in an undignified manner and then act all holy in your statuses. And yes, we do know who you are!
Deception – Because we can’t see you in person doesn’t mean you have the right to become whoever you want. The internet is not fantasy land, and your presence online should represent who you are in real life. In other words – if you’re not an ordained minister in real life – you should not be calling yourself apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, bishop, or any concoction of other things on the internet. If you have no ministry, stop saying you have one – and what I mean by that is if you aren’t doing anything and have no service, don’t come on here and tell people God is “reorganizing you.” If you don’t live in the United States, don’t say you live in the United States. Don’t use this medium to try and trick people into falling for internet scams, lying about needing money for school, sick people, funerals, or to give money to hurting ministries. Don’t sit on here and lie to some American woman because you want to get out of your country and promise her the moon only so you can get a green card. Don’t live a double life on here – and if you do, don’t get mad when we call you out for it!
Witchcraft/Manipulation – Stop using the internet to be an internet bully. No matter how much you lie, cheat, steal, try to manipulate or get people to do what you want them to do, to get your way, or just generally be in control, you are practicing witchcraft and we all know that’s akin to rebellion. If you are “praying for someone” you don’t even know to do what you want them to do (be it “fall in love with you,” ordain them without training or relationship, send money, trust you, etc.), you’re engaging in witchcraft.
Lastly, I have to thank Apostle Yolanda Davis-Greggs for the idea for this note (and no, for all the FB gossips, this blog is not about her!). It’s enough already with people who are using these networks for evil and controlling purposes. Next time you want to be quick to point out what you think someone else is doing – maybe it’s time for you to step back and look at yourself!
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.