We’ve all seen ‘Facebook Guilt’ in one form or another. I’ll share a couple loosely quoted examples:
- ‘I care about America’s soldiers – IF YOU CARE TOO YOU MUST REPOST THIS.’
- ‘I’m putting this status up for one hour today to stand up for ___ rights. If you feel the same way YOU MUST POST IT TOO – IF YOU DON’T I’LL KNOW YOU DON’T CARE!’
- I just gave $_ to ___ because I love ___ – if you love ___ you’ll do the same RIGHT NOW. If you DON’T you’re a cold, mean, heartless person!’ (Ok, I may be exaggerating here.)
We get it. You feel strongly about this. Reading your message you’re sending is akin to being whapped over the head with a frying pan though and we’re not going to re-post your message.
We Christians take Facebook Guilt to a new level with unresearched prayer requests.
- ‘Pray for sweet so and so who shot himself in the face with a ____, he’s hanging on for dear life so he needs all of our prayers! REPOST this if you believe in the power of prayer!’
I think it’s great to share prayer requests with your family and friends on Facebook – but when you see a sensational, heart tugging story I encourage you to do a quick search in Google to see if it might be outdated or even a fake story altogether. The internet is loaded with ‘urban legends’ and sadly that includes some of these emotional stories. When you post them without at least doing a quick fact check, you’re contributing to the problem.
This situation came up just this week, a friend of mine joined Facebook and came across this request and posted it. I recognized it and sent her a link to show her it is at best outdated, at worst, a complete lie. She was relieved to hear it and sad to know she’d been praying for a situation that didn’t exist.
The worst sort of Facebook Guilt I’ve seen perpetrated by believers goes something like this (again, loosely quoted – I actually held back some of the worst of it):
“I believe in Jesus and I’m not ashamed to post it here for all the world to see. Do you believe in Jesus? If yes, repost this status on your profile for one hour today to prove it to everyone. Some believers will do this. Some will not. Those who don’t are denying their savior. I know who my Christian friends are and I’ll be watching to see who stand for Christ with me!’
As I read this, my heart filled with horror.
- First, they’re embarrassing the Body of Christ with this threat laden nonsense. Imagine what the un-churched think as they read it.
- Second, just because they felt it was important to make a public confession at that moment, how dare they demand it of others? Do I have to act like a bonehead in public just because you have?
- Third, how could they suggest that those who prefer not to post about their faith on Facebook are denying Christ in some way?
I’m sure they had the best of intentions, I don’t believe they meant to be so mean spirited. Consider that the next time one of your well meaning Facebook friends posts something like that and send them a private message with a link to this post.
Facebook and other social media sites can be a great mission field. When we live out our live on these sites we have the opportunity to demonstrate our faith through kindness, encouragement and friendship. If you feel led to share your love for Jesus with your friends and family, I pray that you’ll do it with wisdom and love.