Practicing Presence and Hospitality … on Facebook

1 Comment » Written on August 15th, 2012     
Filed under: Reflection
I’ve got a confession to make. I’m an opinionated person and I am passionate about what I believe in. Normally, this isn’t a huge problem. However, it can become a problem on Facebook, where there is a degree of anonymity. It’s easy to get angry when someone on Facebook argues against me, or says something that I believe to be wrong. It’s so easy to lose sight of someone’s humanity when you are hiding behind your computer screen instead of speaking face-to-face. In recent weeks with drama over a certain restaurant chain, I’ve come to despise Facebook for a lot of reasons. Even though I’m often tempted to take part (and sometimes do), I hate all of the vicious arguments. I don’t like the person I too easily become. It’s easy to misconstrue what others say online, or even misunderstand the tone in which it is being said. It’s far too easy to lose sight of the fact that there is an actual person on the other end.

I wonder, if I’m having a hard time avoiding these debates, what are teenagers dealing with on Facebook? I imagine there is probably some trash-talking going on, maybe some inappropriate pictures, and definitely bullying.

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 73% of teens are on a social network
  • 55% of teens have given out personal information to someone they don’t know
  • 29% of teens have posted mean comments, embarrassing photos, or spread rumors about someone
  • 57% of people talk to people more online than they do in real life
  • 22% of teenagers log on to Facebook over 10 times per day

Whether we like it or not, Facebook has become a huge part of every day life — maybe not for all of us, but definitely for our youth.

So what good can come out of it? There is plenty of bad stuff that can come out of using social media. But there is good that can come of it, too. Christians can practice presence and hospitality on Facebook. We can model Christ-like behavior within social media, and we can teach our youth to do the same.

A recent article from the Fuller Youth Institute gives some advice on how teens can be a Christian presence on Facebook.

Is it possible that Christians can practice both presence and hospitality on Facebook?

Facebook has over 845 million users, 483 million of them visiting daily. There are multiple forms of online social media. However, given Facebook’s pervasive use, it is worth thinking about theologically. While Facebook may not continue to be the online source of communication, youth workers can still use Facebook as a way of talking with teens about the ways following Jesus can be part of their Internet relationships.

I invite you to take a look at this article — not only to think about how we can encourage our youth to practice presence and hospitality in social media, but also to think about how we can do the same.


Carol Wild, YWUpdate Blogger

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One Response to “Practicing Presence and Hospitality … on Facebook”

Awesome article and challenge! Great work!

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