In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – and everything in between – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?
“Viewpoint” allows your Prayer Team’s talented writing team to express their opinions on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree with all they have to say. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say, and perhaps even receive a response back from the writer.
Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders.
Why I LIKE it and dislike it
By James N. Watkins
The social networking giant, Facebook, allows only one response to an online post: LIKE. (And if you like it, you can SHARE it.)
I’d like to see more options, such as: KEEP YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY IN YOUR HAMPER, GET A ROOM, YOU PROBABLY SHOULD BE TELLING THAT TO YOUR THERAPIST, CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD IMMEDIATELY AS SOMEONE HAS HACKED YOUR ACCOUNT AND IS POSTING CRAZY NONSENSE, or maybe just DISLIKE.
I LIKE Facebook
Facebook boasts 1.3 billion active users in 70 languages with three-fourths of users outside the United States. So, Facebook provides a worldwide audience for news and information.
Facebook manager for policy, Katie Harbath, told those attending the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, “People no longer trust…TV, radio, newspapers, campaigns, organizations. But, what they do trust is when that information comes from a friend or family member.”
Many argue that the toppling of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen as well as uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and now Ukraine, were orchestrated by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Dictators no long can control information (propaganda) with the advent of the Internet.
The Web is also a powerful evangelistic tool. June 1 is the annual Internet Evangelism Day. According to the event’s website, “the Internet is unique in its ability to reach people, and, we believe a God-given tool for the whole Church. It is a ‘pull medium’ just like a reference library, it draws people in, but only on the basis of their interests. The Web is the only medium which can target any ‘affinity group’ of people, on the basis of ethnicity, geographic location, culture, hobby, felt need or interest, anywhere in the world.”
As communications pastor at a large church, social media is an effective way to maintain contact with my online parish.
I DISLIKE Facebook
Christopher Bergland writes in Psychology Today, “On the one hand, Facebook builds social connectivity…but it also isolates people and creates situations where we are ‘alone together.’ Facebook can fortify friendships…but it can also destroy relationships.”
It creates a false sense of friendship
I have nearly 3,000 Facebook “friends,” but I’m guessing that only a handful would qualify with Jerry Seinfeld’s definition of a friend: “someone who will pick you up at the airport.” And, the gorgeous Russian woman who wants to be my friend may actually be some creepy dude in Nigeria!
American author Anais Nin warns, “This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices…take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.” She wrote that 68 years ago!
It creates shallow friendships
Several years ago, I coined the phrase “helloship,” meaning “shallow conversation in church foyers often mislabeled as fellowship.”
Christopher Carpenter of Western Illinois University published a study called, “Narcissism on Facebook.” He noted “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” Facebook, he wrote, “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.”
In a another study from the University of Michigan, author Elliot Panek, explains, “It’s about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image.”
It fosters limited friendships and viewpoints
One of my greatest fears is that the “social” circles of Facebook users have become cliques! Seth Godin calls your followers your “tribe.” Panek’s study also revealed that users may “over evaluate the importance of their own opinions.” So, if someone contradicts your opinion, you can simply “unfriend” that person, deeming him or her a “troll.”
It is the same danger of gaining your news and views from one source (TV, radio, Internet sites) that only parrots your political prejudices. Your opinions become incestuous if you are constantly un-friending contradictory voices. (Some of you are going to un-friend me for saying that, aren’t you?)
So, there are two faces of Facebook. And like all manmade things, it can be used for good and evil. I LIKE it. I DISLIKE it.
- Pray for those whose only “social life” is the false, shallow and limited life online
- Pray for those who use the Web to engage unbelievers and seekers in dialog about a relationship with God and others that is true, deep and abundant
- Pray that social networking will be used of God for social, religious and political good
Jim is an author of three books on communications and has been online since the early advent of the Internet.
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