Saturday, March 14, 2009

Social network sites on the internet are popping up all over the place. Sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the blogging sites are continuously growing. It seems that these day everyone has at least one account and sometimes multiples! Our pastor even has a Facebook! I heard on NPR the other day that organizations that support animal rights have created Facebook profiles for their individual animals and grad students at an American university are creating pages for the marine animals they are studying! I also hear about the growing concern about how these sites will affect the younger generations ability to interact with their peers in face to face situations because so much time is spent developing cyber-relationships. Many of my parents mention these things when we have conferences with them about their child's behavior or progress in class.

I am not judging, I have a Facebook profile, a blog and I only recently canceled my MySpace. I worry about our addiction to these sites and hope that they can serve to link us with new and exciting friends as well as old friends from the past. It has been so fun these past few months reconnecting with my friends from Odessa. I have enjoyed seeing how everyone is doing and where they are living and their beautiful families. I do how ever hope that these opportunities are just that...opportunities to expand our social interactions in face to face encounters.

Another thing that concerns me is the idea of privacy on the internet. I have listened to 2 NPR accounts about people that have been fired from their jobs because of their use of these social networking sites during work hours and also because of the content posted. Our generation is so accustomed to the rights of free speech and the liberating feeling of blogging our triumphs and our woes, our great times and our not so great times but once that stuff is out on the world wide web, it no longer is our private thoughts. Now the content we post belongs to whomever stumbles across it! I think it is important for those of us that take advantage of these sites to remember that an impression is hard to erase. Employers are searching these sites to keep up with their employees and to see what potential hires are doing in their spare time.

I say this all because of one thing. What you put out there is free speech but it is also free to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Be aware that these images and words that we put out there are available to a mass of people that we could not even possibly imagine! And what they might do with these words and images could come back to haunt us in the future. As Christians we are supposed to live by example and I believe that includes our cyber-example too.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I put an end to childish ways. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13: 11-13

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