Facebook photos: the good, the bad and the ugly

Isn’t it great to reconnect with friends from the past through Facebook? Facebook has been a source of blessing and encouragement for many people. But is there a potential darker side to this ability to reconnect? And are Facebook photos always an innocent thing? 

Consider a few thoughts about Facebook photos:

The Good: reconnecting with old friends

Through Facebook we’ve had fun reconnecting with friends from the past. Isn’t it great to get to see their family pictures without being invited to dinner and asked to watch a slide show of their latest vacation? (Some of you will be old enough to remember). My wife especially loves to see pictures of the children. Facebook has allowed people to feel connected in ways previously unavailable to us. In a mobile society, this has been a blessing. It’s Good!

The Bad: flashes from the past

The dark side to Facebook has been especially tragic. A growing number of married people have used Facebook to connect with old boyfriends or girlfriends and start affairs. Facebook can easily become a private world of careless conversation—especially for people in difficult marriages. I recently counseled pastoral staff from a large ministry that is reeling in pain since their senior pastor connected with a girlfriend from college days through Facebook and left his wife, children and ministry to be with her. It’s Bad!

Do Facebook photos play into this? Most likely. The Bible emphasizes the eye as a primary gate to sin (Genesis 3:6; Joshua 7:20-21; II Samuel 11; Matthew 5:28-29). This should at least warn us about potential dangers in photo viewing. We (men especially) understand why Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1).

(Note: Always give your spouse full access to your Facebook account)

The Ugly: self-portrait on steroids

Facebook photos often come across as self-portrait on steroids! It’s just so easy to post a million pictures of yourself! So why not? And why wouldn’t people want to see you in every possible pose and expression? I realize that this is tricky territory because it deals with motives. I also try hard to avoid reading motives into others.

I try to always think the best of others unless proven otherwise. But it’s honestly hard not to think, in some cases, that Facebook photos have become an outlet for self-absorption. I am not projecting this on anyone but offering it as a point for reflection between you and God (or, if you’re under your parents, you, your parents and God).

Our college town is surrounded by Amish communities who oppose all self-portrait as idolatry. I wonder what they would think of Facebook photos?! I realize that they represent an extreme, but is it possible that Facebook photos are the other end of the extreme?

Concern for young girls:

Young girls, in particular, like to post their photos. In many cases, if they counted their self-portraits, they would number in the hundreds! When I was a young man, the only way I got a girl’s picture was if she “liked” me and wanted to “go out.” Young men can now access endless pictures of girls that would never “like” them or “go out” with them. What should we make of this? Some of the photos are fun and harmless. Others get ugly as they become edgy and seductive. Do young girls realize the dangers in this? Perhaps.

Would they be disgusted by Facebook stalkers (as they call them) pouring over their pictures for lustful purposes? Are they gullible enough to think this would never happen? Or, is it possible that they find a very subtle form of sinful satisfaction in the possibility of guys “enjoying” their pictures? Ugly!

To parents:

It’s likely that our youth see Facebook photos as innocent fun. If parents question express concerns, they’ll probably get a “your kidding me” look and then be reminded of how “everyone does it.” They might also think you’re being “a little over the top!” Or, you’ll be accused of “Facebook stalking.”

No matter how our youth react, parents are wise to help them understand the dangers—not just of the edgy stuff, but of the use of Facebookphotos as a means of self-absorption. Is there at least some application of “take up your cross and deny yourself”? Or, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). 

Note: Be careful in the way you give parental instruction about these things. We don’t want to create little youth group Pharisees. Try to expose gullibility; correct prideful criticism of others and teach humble discernment.

To pastors and youth pastors:

If you use Facebook to stay in touch with the flock, be extra careful about viewing Facebook photos. I am not trying to be legalistic and I certainly don’t want to start any campaigns against Facebook! Yet our hearts are always looking for new ways to deceive us. If we’re not careful, innocent glancing at Facebook photos can subtly become occasions for evil.  

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

Steve Cornell

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About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Church Leadership, Facebook, Pastors, Twitter, Youth. Bookmark the permalink.

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