Let’s face it—Facebook can be both a gift and a curse. (And sometimes it can be both in a single afternoon.)
On one hand, it can be a great way to connect with friends and family, but it can also be a colossal waste of time as well as a breeding ground for arguments and thoughtless conversations. Many relationships have formed and many have fallen apart entirely because of Facebook. Last year, for instance, a UK law firm conducted a study that showed 30 percent of divorces involved Facebook.
So is there anything redemptive about social media? If not, why use it at all?
Here are 7 ways to use Facebook for good:
1. Use it to encourage other people.
Today’s culture is not known for kindness—especially as it pertains to the online culture. Sitting behind a computer can make people hostile and bullish. So when we choose to be kind, it’s truly impactful. What if we went online looking for opportunities to say a kind word to someone who is hurting? Hurting people are everywhere. Keep in mind: A message is best communicated by how we live and not just what we say.
2. Use it to network with people and organizations.
Facebook has unbelievable opportunities to connect with organizations and individuals we might never have the opportunity to interact with otherwise. We can connect with churches and ministries around the world as well as “follow” people or pages who are experts in our areas of interest. We can even connect with missionaries on the field and learn about their daily lives without waiting for the monthly (mostly outdated) missionary letter. What if Facebook could be about connection instead of attention?
3. Use it to invite people to church or ministry events.
Social media offers us a free advertising platform to notify everyone in our personal network of upcoming opportunities at church. How else can we let everyone on our contact list know—with the single press of a button—that our church is having a special program or an opportunity exists to participate in a worthy cause? Social media has saved us thousands of dollars in advertising and made it possible to invite anybody to anything.
4. Use it to raise awareness for important causes.
Have a cause that is close to your heart? We have learned—and will continue to learn—an astounding amount of information because of what people in our social media share. We’ve learned about mental illnesses and childhood cancers. We’ve read think pieces and been made aware of medical advances. If someone we know and respect promotes something we’ve never heard about, we take notice. Facebook can be a wonderful platform to raise awareness for important causes.
5. Use it to educate yourself and learn about others.
If you’re on Facebook, no doubt you are connected to people who don’t exactly share your political, social, or ethical positions on various topics. Instead of de-friending them, why not learn about them? While this doesn’t mean we should change what we believe, it does mean we can learn to better relate to people—and ultimately share the love of Christ with them—in more personal ways. And isn’t that the goal? Education is not compromise. Kindness is not acquiescence.
6. Use it to be transparent.
While too much transparency has been known to be a problem on social media, the right amount of transparency can build bridges with people. If you’re facing a personal crisis and can talk about it in ways that help other people, why not do it for the good of others? Maybe someone else will reach out to you because you shared something about a particular path you are traveling. People want to know they aren’t alone. Transparency is a key to true connection
7. Use it to listen.
Listen to your family and friends. Listen to people in your sphere of influence. Listen to churchgoers and those who don’t go anywhere to church. Listen to the political issues that are driving people apart. It can be frustrating to read things with which we disagree—especially as it pertains to religion or politics—but in so doing, we love and serve people in better, eternal ways. The bottom line: People want to be heard. Listening is a critical component of true friendship and helpful conversation.
Yes, Facebook can be both a gift and a curse, but the truth is: Whether it’s a blessing or not is entirely up to the user.