Monday, April 6, 2009

Facebook -- Overcoming the Evils That Occur

As most of you know, I am a heavy-duty Facebook user. I have been active for about a year and half. It has brought much joy to my life as it has helped me strengthen my contact/communication with those who are in the Body of Christ and with friends I grew up with in my boyhood town in southern Illinois. I have friends from seemingly all age brackets. Only recently I have started partaking in some of the fun activities such as "quizzes" and "fun notes", resulting in lots of witty feedback, all in fun!

In fact, I was one of the earlier active participants within my age group from my hometown. I was deemed instrumental in reuniting some long-lost friends. A small group of them were so ecstatic that they have begun planning a Facebook reunion in my hometown this coming June. Since I am the one who allegedly started the Facebook craze, I have been roped into coming. I could not resist the urge to come! I knew I couldn't afford it, but I did find a good deal on a travel package, too good to pass up, so I am planning on going after all!

Facebook could almost easily become an addiction so I have had to take great efforts to keep a balance in my life. Fortunately, it is helpful that I am unable to access Facebook at work due to some network "firewalls", and that is a good thing! (Am too busy at work anyway!) So pretty much, the evening is the only time for Facebook. All in all, I have found the rewards to be worth my time.

However, a couple weeks ago, there was a sickening incident that occurred. I had just gotten home from work and was barely signed in when I was beseiged with some IMs' from those I would never expect to receive. I was warned about some graphic image that I was tagged with.

As I scrolled down the home page, it was even more horrific than I could imagine. Gratefully, I was able to receive assistance from other godly users on how to remove it and report it. In that duration, I was sickened and grossed out nauciously as I persistently labored at these tasks while coaching other affected users in doing the same. I initially was apalled at the person from whose account
I was tagged, allegedly a new Facebook confirmed friend who I had requested months ago (she was a friend I knew from Grace Community and had lost touch). While she is a fellow believer, she was known also for pulling an occasional prank. After I successfully dealt with the removal of the image and tagging, and with the apologies to my fellow users, I then found out that this friend had nothing to do with this (I feel awful and foolish for doubting her in the first place!!) A student of hers had hacked her account and performed the sick acts. I am told she was equally upset (probably more so), and disabled her account. I can only imagine the pain she is feeling in dealing with the situation at her school. Please pray for her!

Understandably, this upset several users connected with me. Some closed their accounts, while others removed me as a friend. I myself was upset to know that my FB account could be exposed to an image like that. I was grateful to learn from others that they knew I was above reproach and would have nothing to do with initiating this incident.

I wondered what action I should take on my Facebook account whether to continue. But it has become such a valuable tool in my life, I chose to retain it after weighing the pros and cons. Some of my friends chose not to continue it, and though I miss them terribly, I fully support their decision accordingly. One of my dear and well-respected friends, yet another school teacher, stated that as an educator and a church deaconess, she could not risk any potential repercussions of any brief association with images of that kind, so that was obviously understandable. I am grateful of having another means of contact with this godly woman as I value her friendship greatly.

I realize that I need to be mindful of these concerns as well. As a middle-aged single man, I know what skepticism I am faced with and the associated stereotypes. And that is why I am swift to remove anything that may cause anyone to stumble and to replace with truths that live up to the principles of Ephesians 4:29 and Phil 4:8.

Something I was reminded from this is that God reigns over all and is the Great Conqueror; greater than any of our sins. Through Him I am able to do all things through Christ that strengthens me. And the impurities of this wicked world will cause you to stumble only if you let it. I feel I did everything possible to rid of that gross image and maintain the pure integrity of my Facebook account. I will continue to strive to use this as an instrument to encourage one another, and to make myself available for sharing any prayer requests and concerns. Just some thoughts!

Grace and Peace,
Paul -- Ephesians 3:20