Friendship – Day 15
The Facebook factor
How many friends do you have? If the first number that jumps to mind is your Facebook friend count, then you are probably someone who, like me, builds and maintains friendships online. These days, it is impossible to talk about friendship without mentioning social media. How do we, as Christians, negotiate online friendships?
Of course, the Bible is not specific on what is appropriate or not for status updates, but there are principles for friendship that are applicable online. After all – Paul, Peter and John wrote letters to Christians, they often never met. These letters were read aloud and passed from church to church. Does it sound familiar? Today, we would call that viral marketing.
The primary call for Christians is to show love, to grow into the love of Jesus Christ and to reflect his grace and truth into the world. In a face-to-face conversation, we try to show support and care, and we work hard not to say the first thing that comes out of our mouths, particularly mean-spirited or spiteful things. How much more so do we need to exercise the same prudence online! I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I have embarrassed myself publicly many times, because of what slips off my tongue, and online things can be far worse. A status update that feels right at the time often looks horribly inappropriate the next day – after dozens of people have seen it. For me, it has been a learning and maturing process on what to say online, what to say to friends in person and what to keep to myself.
Facebook can be a wonderful tool for building and maintaining friendships, as long as we remember that words carry power; not just spoken words, but the hastily typed comments and updates too.