For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Back on Facebook - What I Learned During My Hiatus

I am back on Facebook, but I must admit that I made the decision reluctantly. I actually enjoyed my time away from Facebookworld.

Here are some thoughts about what I learned while I was gone.

1. Facebook is a tremendous amplifier.

One of the things that led to my taking a break from FB was that everything seemed so shrill. I found myself becoming concerned about things that people were posting. The need to click or comment was growing stronger and stronger. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't simply an unusual election, but that FB itself amp-up the emotional content of stories through the sharing and commenting that went on. So my break was something of an experiment about how FB affected me.

I check the news several times a day. I read a variety of sources: American and European, liberal and conservative, and English and French. During the time away from Facebook I also stayed away from the comment sections of the news articles I was reading. I simply read the news...much like I did back in the day when I would read a newspaper and maybe a magazine or two.

Result: My opinions are just as informed as they were when I was on FB but things are not blown up to catastrophic proportions. I am more relaxed. Frankly, I think my perspective on life and the world is much healthier. In fact, the real world is much nicer than the Facebook world.

2. Facebook is a time waster.

Time is a non-renewable resource. While we all need time to relax, much of my time on FB had to go into the "wasted time" category. Have you ever spent an hour on FB and then wondered, "what was I doing?" Did I really need to watch that 2 minute video of a dancing dog? During my hiatus I found more time for other things that I actually enjoyed more.

3. Facebook is a good way of keeping up with people.

As a pastor of an international church, I have met a lot of people from around the world during the last three years. Facebook has been a useful tool for keeping up with where they are and what they are doing. As someone who was pastor of an amazing group of people in northern Minnesota, FB has been a fun way of following what is happening in their lives. As a person living with an ocean between me and the rest of my family, FB is a great way to remain connected with family. It's keeping up with those connections that I missed the most.

4. Facebook is a terrible way keep in touch with national or international news.

It is like getting your news at the water cooler at work. Would you trust those conversations to give you accurate pictures of the nation or the world? Probably not. News stories on FB should be considered rumours. Click on something other than FB for your news. Don't waste time on the comments. What are my main on-line sources? BBC, Reuters, Google News (US and French editions), France24, Le Monde, La Figaro and the Drudge Report. Note that Google News links to several different sources for each news item. Drudge often sensationalises his headlines, but his page is particularly useful for its links to all of the major news sources.

5. Facebook is a means of connecting people to articles that might interest them.

Like this blog post. I am not tooting my horn, but sometimes there are articles that I think would be of benefit to some of my friends. FB is a way to connect people to those articles. My blog is listed in our church's ebulletin each week, but I notice that there is a spike in traffic when I put a link to it on FB. Given the traffic that comes from France I can only surmise that people click on FB links more than ebulletin links.

But it isn't just my blog. Sometimes I will run across an article that relates to something that is happening in our church and FB is a way of connecting people to the article. There were several times I wanted to make an exception and break my hiatus in order to post a link to an article that addressed something from a biblical perspective.

So what is my FB policy now that I am back on?

I am going to post nothing other than relaxing goldfish videos. Seriously, you've got to see this one. 

You didn't just click on that did you? Really?

Here my "notes to self" as I go back on FB:

  • FB is a communication tool rather than an entertainment tool. 
  • I need to keep from wasting time on it. 
  • Notifications are "off". 
  • I'll check it once a day for messages. (Text me if you need a quicker response). 
  • It isn't my source national or international news. Don't click on articles or respond. 
  • It isn't my job to police "fake news".
  • Facebook for keeping up with family and friends. 
  • Do a Facebook review every 3 months. If it isn't having a positive impact, unplug it.
  • Facebook is not in control. I can live without it. 

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