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Shun Those With Low Standards, Loose Morals.-- It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact.  {AH 462.2}       A good name is more precious than gold. There is an inclination with the youth to associate with those who are inferior in mind and morals. What real happiness can a young person expect from a voluntary connection with persons who have a low standard of thoughts, feelings, and deportment? Some are debased in taste and depraved in habits, and all who choose such companions will follow their example. We are living in times of peril that should cause the hearts of all to fear.  {AH 462.3} 

 

 

We are living in an age where people no longer associate by going out with friends, but we can do that right in our bedrooms. We can be in class or home with parents, while busy with the phone and far away from home or class. We carry our friends in our pockets.

 

 Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. Oh, that we might control our words and actions!  {FLB 327.7}

 

This statement reminds me of the line on facebook, "whats on your mind?"

 

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The Anti-Social Network

By helping other people look happy, Facebook is making us sad.

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Is Facebook making us miserable?

There are countless ways to make yourself feel lousy. Here's one more, according to research out of Stanford: Assume you're alone in your unhappiness.

"Misery Has More Company Than People Think," a paper in the January issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, draws on a series of studies examining how college students evaluate moods, both their own and those of their peers. Led by Alex Jordan, who at the time was a Ph.D. student in Stanford's psychology department, the researchers found that their subjects consistently underestimated how dejected others were–and likely wound up feeling more dejected as a result. Jordan got the idea for the inquiry after observing his friends' reactions to Facebook: He noticed that they seemed to feel particularly crummy about themselves after logging onto the site and scrolling through others' attractive photos, accomplished bios, and chipper status updates. "They were convinced that everyone else was leading a perfect life," he told me.

The human habit of overestimating other people's happiness is nothing new, of course. Jordan points to a quote by Montesquieu: "If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are." But social networking may be making this tendency worse. Jordan's research doesn't look at Facebook explicitly, but if his conclusions are correct, it follows that the site would have a special power to make us sadder and lonelier. By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people's lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles' heel of human nature. And women—an especially unhappy bunch of late—may be especially vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Joneses.

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In one of the Stanford studies, Jordan and his fellow researchers asked 80 freshmen to report whether they or their peers had recently experienced various negative and positive emotional events. Time and again, the subjects underestimated how many negative experiences ("had a distressing fight," "felt sad because they missed people") their peers were having. They also overestimated how much fun ("going out with friends," "attending parties") these same peers were having. In another study, the researchers found a sample of 140 Stanford students unable to accurately gauge others' happiness even when they were evaluating the moods of people they were close to—friends, roommates and people they were dating. And in a third  study, the researchers found that the more students underestimated others' negative emotions, the more they tended to report feeling lonely and brooding over their own miseries. This is correlation, not causation, mind you; it could be that those subjects who started out feeling worse imagined that everyone else was getting along just fine, not the other way around. But the notion that feeling alone in your day-to-day suffering might increase that suffering certainly makes intuitive sense.

As does the idea that Facebook might aggravate this tendency. Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one's assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and withsome exceptions, sad stuff doesn't make the cut, either. The site's very design—the  presence of a "Like" button, without a corresponding "Hate" button—reinforces a kind of upbeat spin doctoring. (No one will "Like" your update that the new puppy died, but they may "Like" your report that the little guy was brave up until the end.)

Any parent who has posted photos and videos of her child on Facebook is keenly aware of the resulting disconnect from reality, the way chronicling parenthood this way creates a story line of delightfully misspoken words, adorably worn hats, dancing, blown kisses. Tearful falls and tantrums are rarely recorded, nor are the stretches of pure, mind-blowing tedium. We protect ourselves, and our kids, this way; happiness is impersonal in a way that pain is not. But in the process, we wind up contributing to the illusion that kids are all joy, no effort. 

The Anti-Social Network

By helping other people look happy, Facebook is making us sad.

(Continued from Page 1)

Facebook is "like being in a play. You make a character," one teenager tells MIT professor Sherry Turkle in her new book on technology, Alone Together. Turkle writes about the exhaustion felt by teenagers as they constantly tweak their Facebook profiles for maximum cool. She calls this "presentation anxiety," and suggests that the site's element of constant performance makes people feel alienated from themselves. (The book's broader theory is that technology, despite its promises of social connectivity, actually makes us lonelier by preventing true intimacy.)

Facebook oneupsmanship may have particular implications for women. As Meghan O'Rourke has noted here in Slate, women's happiness has been at an all-time low in recent years. O'Rourke and two University of Pennsylvania economists who have studied the male-female happiness gap argue that women's collective discontent may be due to too much choice and second-guessing–unforeseen fallout, they speculate, of the way our roles have evolved over the last half-century. As the economists put it, "The increased opportunity to succeed in many dimensions may have led to an increased likelihood in believing that one's life is not measuring up."

If you're already inclined to compare your own decisions to those of other women and to find yours wanting, believing that others are happier with their choices than they actually are is likely to increase your own sense of inadequacy. And women may be particularly susceptible to the Facebook illusion. For one thing, the site is inhabited by more women than men, and women users tend to be more active on the site, as Forbes has reported. According to a recent study out of the University of Texas at Austin, while men are more likely to use the site to share items related to the news or current events, women tend to use it to engage in personal communication (posting photos, sharing content "related to friends and family"). This may make it especially hard for women to avoid comparisons that make them miserable. (Last fall, for example, the Washington Post ran a piece about the difficulties of infertile women in shielding themselves from the Facebook crowings of pregnant friends.)

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Jordan, who is now a postdoctoral fellow studying social psychology at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, suggests we might do well to consider Facebook profiles as something akin to the airbrushed photos on the covers of women's magazine. No, you will never have those thighs, because nobody has those thighs. You will never be as consistently happy as your Facebook friends, because nobody is that happy. So remember Montesquieu, and, if you're feeling particularly down, use Facebook for its most exalted purpose: finding fat exes.

Lik

My One and Only Week on Facebook

Last week, on a whim, I signed up for a Facebook account. I had no friends and no idea what I was doing. So I asked for advice and begged for friends. I got both. A bunch of people--everyone from students at my church, to a very helpful atheist professional blogger, to Christian uber-blogger Tim Challies--took the time to thoughtfully answer my questions. I learned a lot and got a kick out of many of the humorous answers. And if all that weren't enough, many of you "friended" me.

For the past seven days I've really enjoyed Facebook. It is a lot fun and a great way to connect with people. I now understand why it's so incredibly popular. But today I decided to bring my Facebook career to an abrupt end. I'm weird, huh? But here are some of the reasons I'm calling it quits...

First, I just don't have enough self-control not to check my page constantly. In one week I saw what many of you warned me about: it's addictive. I found myself tempted to update my "status" every five minutes. "Joshua Harris is walking across his office. Joshua Harris sitting in his office chair. Joshua Harris is wasting valuable time describing what he is doing."

This year I'm starting work on a new book and when I'm writing I am looking for any excuse not to write. When I'm supposed to be writing I am so easily sidetracked. I want to clear my inbox, weed the garden, answer emails that I've already answered, trim my nails...you name it, I am looking for distraction. If I had the temptation to check my Facebook during a writing project, I'd be a goner. The book would never get written.

But even if I weren't writing a book, I don't need another reason for staring at a computer screen. I'm constantly needing to evaluate is how much time I spend emailing, browsing and blogging. Now obviously a lot of that activity is good, useful work. But sometimes it can be a time-waster. I think God's been helping me improve at knowing when to unplug from cyberville and connect with the real, rich world of reality--playing with my kids, talking to my wife, taking a walk. Throwing Facebook in the mix of my online options is just a little too much for me right now.

The other reason I feel right about making my time with Facebook just a visit is a little harder to explain. How do I put this? I found that it encouraged me to think about me even more than I already do--which is admittedly already quite a bit. Does that make any sense? Without any help from the internet I'm inclined to give way too much time to evaluating myself, thinking about myself and wondering what other people think of me. If that egocentrism is a little flame, than Facebook for me is a gasoline IV feeding the fire. I need to grow in self-forgetfulness. I need to worry more about what God is thinking of me. I need to be preoccupied with what he's written in his word, not what somebody just wrote on my "wall."

And, finally, I need to read more. There are so many good books I want to read and so little time. If I added up the few minutes here and there that I spent checking Facebook this past week it wouldn't be an insignificant amount of time. I'd rather give that time to reading.

Anyway, all of the above is totally personal and is in no way an indictment on other Facebookers. This is just where I'm at right now. Who knows...I might be back when the kids are grown and the book is written and I have more self-control. Okay, it might be awhile.

To all the people who so very kindly "friended" me I'm so sorry to have wasted your time. I hope we can still be friends in the real world.

Thanks for letting me visit.

Update: One year after writing this post I decided to give Facebook another try. Why? Because I learned that by turning off all alerts I can better keep it under control. And also because I plan to collect ten million friends and then demand that they pray for me every day while I write my book (grin). Seriously, I hope to use Facebook as another way to connect with people about my new book and, Lord willing, the conference tour to support the book in 2010.

Facebook Wars

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I need to confess some sins I've been struggling with: jealousy, lack of contentment, envy, pride. And that's just to name a few. You'd think that as a woman who stays home most days with her kids, I wouldn't have the opportunity to cultivate all these vices. But they come to me ... via Facebook.

My mom has a couple of impressive cross-stitched pictures in her home. When I asked my typically non-crafty mother what inspired her to spend hours on these pieces of Americana, she explained that when she was a mom of young children, she felt like she hardly accomplished anything in a day. Cross-stitching gave her a sense of accomplishment as she watched the picture take shape day after day.

In some ways, Facebook has become the new "accomplishment meter." Not just for stay-at-home moms, but also for singles, young marrieds, grandparents and pretty much anyone. It's an easy conduit for presenting the wonders of your life — impressive exercise sessions, gourmet meals you cook and/or consume, glamourous photos, outings with friends, fun vacations, Instagrams of cute offspring, etc.

When I was single, I posted a lot about the exciting things I was doing. And to be embarrassingly honest, I posted a lot of pictures of myself that I felt made me look attractive. I loved to check back and receive people's validation of my life. (Josh Harris talked about this in his blog "My One and Only Week on Facebook.")

Nowadays, I'm doing less ... at least less that would impress others. I'm not about to post, "Changed eight poopy diapers today" or "Finally got a shower at 2 p.m." as my Facebook status. And six weeks after giving birth, I'm not posting any glamourous pictures of myself either. My biggest pitfall now is comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate because I have less to show for myself. According to a study released a few years ago, I'm not the only one who can get bummed out by Facebook. Looking at the "best" of everyone else's life can make me feel pretty rotten about my own.

MuffinsThe other day, I looked up a recipe for pumpkin muffins on the Internet (Pinterest, anyone?), mixed them up and baked them. They even had a crumb topping, which required extra culinary finesse. For me, the addition of muffin-making to the mundane daily tasks associated with caring for a toddler and infant was a HUGE accomplishment. And what was my first urge (which I totally gave into)? To post a picture on Facebook. I wanted the world (or at least several hundred Facebook friends) to know that I did something worthy that day — I baked muffins.

This is kind of a rambling, soul-searching, no-big-answers post. I'm not condemning Facebook. I love that I can connect with people during the day, including my family, former co-workers and college friends, without having to leave the house — a luxury lonely stay-at-home moms of the past never had. I think social networking has provided a bit of a lifeline for people like me. At the same time, I see how regular consumption of it feeds some sinful habits. Particularly, I know it's wrong to be seeking my worthiness from others instead of from the Lord.

Here's the thing. God didn't care that I made those muffins. He cared that I expressed love and patience to my children throughout the day. He cared that I looked for ways to bless and care for my family, even if no one ever knew about it. Most importantly, He cared that I fulfilled the role that day that He had called me to. And I didn't need Facebook to tell me that.

Social networking may be the new cross-stitch for women in my stage of life, but unfortunately I'm finding that it can have a less wholesome and therapeutic effect. I'm still thinking about how to curb the sinful tendencies Facebook encourages in me. And whether Facebook is the stumbling block, or something else is, I know I will always have to contend with my sin nature. Still, to be on the safe side, maybe I'll take up cross-stitching.

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  • Comment by  SuzanneHadleyGosselin:

    These muffins were very good and used simple ingredients:

    organizedisland.com/.../simple-pumpkin-muffins

  • Comment by  EMSoliDeoGloria:

    On the other hand, FB can be a great way for moms / others who have a hard time getting out of the house to cultivate and maintain relationships between face-to-face interactions.

    It can also be a way to engage ideas, share something you've been learning in a new stage of life or respond to something someone else is learning. Instead of talking about what I DO on FB all the time, I try to talk about ideas I'm engaging and things I'm learning. For the most part, I doubt anyone cares about what meetings or social engagements I'm involved in or what I've done in the kitchen, so I try to limit my posts about such things (doesn't mean you have to, but that's my practice). Instead, I post favorite quotes or discussion topics and engage with my friends about things that matter.

    Facebook, like so many things, is largely what you make of it.

  • Comment by  Taylor:

    Suzanne,

    Kudos to you on your honesty.  So little honesty within the Church today.  I'd dish on myself but I think I might pop this little form box!  haha.  

    I work in the IT Web arena (used to work there at Focus even... cough) and spend a ton of time in the social world.  But I personally found that it brought out all the most negative things in me.  Narcissism really was one of the nicest things it brought out in me.  Which is saying something.  And eventually tried to use FB to suture the wounds from my past - which was an epic fail on all levels.  

    Eventually I realized the cycle of damage it was causing and I just walked up to the plug and I pulled it.  That was two years ago and I haven't looked back since.  Now I'll be honest, I didn't pull the plug on Twitter and I had to learn the lesson all over again there too.  But outside of educational purposes I steer clear of the social networks.  

    Outside of the spiritual reasons to pull the plug - what about just time suck as one?  TV is out there in that category too.  But I just went from preaching to meddling.  But I think we Christians enjoy justifying our selfish hobbies in an everyone is doing it sort of way.  

    Do I have a problem with FB?  Twitter?  Pintrest? TV?  Nope.  But should you have a problem with it?  Maybe.  Just depends.  

    Taylor

  • Comment by  Sara:

    Do people think it's actually ok to find something so trivial as cross-stitching fulfilling?

    Aren't people led to higher things than that, things that really matter in life like relationships and developing one's mind and, most importantly and ultimately, developing one's relationship with God?

    Of course I'm speaking tongue-in-cheek. I think it's sad that some of us take ourselves so seriously that we have to have a power career + perfect children + perfect marriage before we let ourselves feel satisfied.

    I feel like life wasn't so competitive way back when. I'd like to be humble enough to be satisfied with a job well done on a cross stitch project, if that was what I liked to do.

  • Comment by  Alanna:

    Suzanne, thanks for your post!  I agree completely with your points.

    After worrying over the potential life-altering decision, I actually deleted my profile 3 months ago, and it has been the BEST life change this year - I will never go back to it.  I have felt my anxiety level decrease, my contentment increase, my creativity and productivity increase, and overall outlook on life improve.  Though there are people I have lost touch with and certain conveniences I miss, I feel so relieved, so free, and my mind isn't racing all the time.  I also have been making photo books so I can have hard copies of my vacation, friends, and family pictures. I always love looking through my grandmother's dusty photo albums and want my kids/grand kids to have albums to look through.

    Clair, I went through a breakup earlier this year too, and Facebook made it even more painful!  There were so many pictures of us and it took me WEEKS to untag and ask friends to delete photos.  Also, everybody knew, even people I haven't spoken with for ages - my personal life being that public was SUCH a nightmare!  Not to mention, new pictures of him would show up on my news feed which was like salt in the wound!  

    Also, I had a tendency to "research" guys I was interested in.  The result was it made me feel like I knew them more than I did, and I felt so much more emotionally attached to them. It just fueled my imagination of how perfect the guys were without the face to face reality interaction. It was just so unhealthy.

    There are many perks and social networking sites are not all bad, but overall I had enough of it.  I feel that Facebook has transitioned from a convenient way to keep in touch, to a rather narcissistic billboard many folks rely on to define themselves, an unnatural window into our personal worlds, and it has robbed us of our time and creativity (okay, maybe not that extreme), but my point is that I much prefer phone calls, spending time with people in person, pursuing my hobbies, and learning new things rather than staring in a trance at a computer screen x-)

  • Comment by  Mary:

    It was amazing how my life got yanked into focus when I left fb. For one, I am getting into wicked shape. Another, I am much more sensitive to not spreading or feeding into gossip. Let's face it, as the news feed rolls out every morning, we sure are good at thinking some pretty nasty thoughts: "Seriously, more pics of your kids?....Ok so and so is all skinny now, how did she get that way...why is she still dating that guy..how many years has it been?" And on it goes. No one needs more of this in their life.

    I told myself:I  don't have to get ride of FB, I want to, because it makes me catty.

  • Comment by  Yoli:

    "Here's the thing. God didn't care that I made those muffins."

    Here's the thing. God does care :)

  • Comment by  Ruthie:

    Ah, yes, I can so relate with the emotions you mentioned after I spend too much time on Facebook. Because I am a single missionary in Africa, I love Facebook for the fact that I can stay so connected to my family and friends back home and elsewhere in the world. But, when I see them enjoying foods I can't have or doing activities I can't do here, or talking about engagements, marriages and children, which I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing, yes, I begin to feel jealous and even depressed. So, I have realized I need to limit the time I spend on Facebook, so I walk away feeling good and connected with others, and not lousy and jealous.

  • Comment by  Raquel:

    So, I have to tell you that I had a huge jump in my views yesterday, so I looked a little further and see that you mentioned them in your blog.  So I wanted to thank you for sharing them!  

    Oh yes, and I am following you on Facebook and think you are awesome!  :)

  • Comment by  Melanie:

    I think there is something else that we need to consider about Facebook.  I took a hiatus not too long ago because I found myself increasingly annoyed with a few of my friends. It wasn't jealousy it was anger at their hypocrisy. They'd post about how amazing life was and then I'd speak with them on the phone and get a completely different story. I don't believe in airing your dirty laundry over a social forum (although this happens with alarming frequency) but I do think that the person we present ourselves to be on Facebook/Twitter/etc should be the same person you'd see if we were having a face-to-face chat.

    Yes, social media gives us a new layer of communication but if the communication being done is a falsehood then I worry that honesty is going to find a new layer to. We'll have the God's honest truth, the tactful truth, and the internet truth.

  • Comment by  Jonathan:

    I loved this post! Thanks for being so honest, because I can totally relate to this. Even as a guy I find myself comparing my life to others on facebook. Whether it be their jobs, relationships or academic accomplishments, I find that my status feed has turned into nothing more than a comparison feed. It's so easy to take fore granted all of the amazing things God has been doing in my life when I'm busy comparing myself to others. There is nothing wrong with facebook, or our friends posting their accomplishments, it's actually a really convenient way to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, we just need to monitor our own hearts also.  

  • Comment by  Stephanie:

    I haven't really had an issue with comparing my life to other's lives. But what I have noticed is that Facebook has made it easier for me to assume I know another person's motives/state of mind etc when they post, how they meant what they said, their thoughts while they were posting etc - -all without even realizing assumptions/judgments are being made.

    For example, my cousin posts alot about her family but she just got married for the first time at 42 and had a son almost a year later.  I know she's overjoyed because she didn't think it would ever happen, and wants to share her joy and encourage others (some of whom have been encouraged). But I also know some persons could take it the wrong way  and think she is showing off and if she weren't my cousin I would probably view it differently!  

    As another example, I posted one sentence after the recent debate about the moderator not enforcing the  time limitations. A couple people echoed similar thoughts but  one person then said Candidate X was allowed to talk longer than Candidate Y and that I was making excuses for Candidate X.  But  I hadn't seen all of the debate as I came home late and intended to watch it on dvr over the weekend, didn't have an opinion about their performance since I hadn't seen all of it, and simply thought the few questions and answers I saw were long winded with no control.   But  still an assumption was made.  Funny thing is  -  unknown to that person I have been leaning towards not voting for either anyway!  

  • Comment by  zuzi:

    whenever something interesting happened to me, my first thought was: hey! this would be a great status update! .......

    and then i realized, this is NOT normal... well, maybe it is, but that's not the way i want my reality to look like.... so i deleted my facebook account, and now i can OHHHH FEEL THE FREEDOM! :)))

  • Comment by  Kellie:

    A facebook pet peeve of mine is the person who posts "I have the best child (or spouse/church/dog/etc) ever."  I'm never sure how to respond as I obviously don't think they're correct.  One friend in particular always inspires me to think of something snarky in response to her posts.  But I try to never write something I wouldn't say in person.

  • Comment by  Charis:

    This is true.

    It was an article very motivating for me to drop Facebook again.

    Other people may not have this problem, but I find myself on it to beat my blahs. It is easier to write something witty and people 'like' than face the reality of homework and other work.

    Not good! The consensus for me? Giving it up as my band-aid.

    Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

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