What's on Facebook is Public
There is a perverse comfort in social networking. Even though you’re publishing content for all the world to see, you really don’t have to face the public who might (you hope) stumbles across your words. In the privacy of your home or office, its just you and a computer screen. So we tend to let loose and speak in a way we may not if we actually had to let those words lose from our mouths.
This creative flow is one of the strengths of the connected generation. It allows for unedited expression, personal glimpses of celebrities, and perceived connection with people miles away.
But this lack of digital inhibition can be a weakness. Because as we sit with manufactured courage in the privacy of our office space, we’re publishing words to the world that may come back to haunt. And we’re also creating a digital paper trail that could easily affect our God-given calling in the future.
Growing up in church I used to hear, “If everything we thought or said was made public, we’d be ashamed.” Now, it seems everything everyone hears or says is being made public, but we’re not ashamed. Now, I’m a fan of the digital age. I’m on Facebook and I’ll soon Twitter. But I’m worried about a culture that is slowly lacking the ability to think before it speaks. The journey from mind to mouth to keyboard to web happens so fast, it lacks the necessary self-editing that took place in days of pen and paper.
Communication is clearly not going back to a previous age and I don’t think it should. 21st century tools have made the world smaller, creating new channels for the transmission of truth and hope and light. What we all need, though, is a dose of wisdom from the Scriptures about our digital presences.
We all need to self-edit before we press send or share or publish. Are the words we are blasting to cyberspace words we’d be proud to claim in a roomful of dignified people? Are they words peppered with affirmations of God’s grace? Do they show strains of self-absorption by revealing too much about ourselves? Private things that nobody but our loved ones needs to know?
Daniel Darling is an author and pastor with a passion for young people. He is the author of Teen People of the Bible, a 100-day devotional for teens. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, or at danieldarling.com.