Ranting about Facebook: Inviting the barbarians into the living room.

When bringing up the dangers of Facebook, one runs the risk of immediately eliciting the thought “Oh, he’s one of those guys.” Well, I’m willing to take that risk. Maybe I’m willing because I know I am one of those guys. Oh, well.

As the head of my household, one of my responsibilities is to protect my family. There are, of course, countless dangers from which to protect them: physical harm, wrong thinking, strife, etc. One important and often overlooked way I need to guard them is by protecting what I allow to occupy my time. I have to evaluate, with anything that I am doing, whether or not it is something that I can feel comfortable allowing to take away from focused time with my wife and, come February, our son.

Essentially, when I sit for a given period of time learning what sundry friends or acquaintances (I guess there isn’t really an “acquaintance” category on FB) are thinking, doing, feeling, or otherwise, I am inviting those people into my living room and giving them my attention. I am saying “Come and distract me from my wife and my son; it’s important to me to hear from you.”

Now, given the inconsequential nature of most of what happens on that virtual town square, this is certainly a rather queer choice. But Facebook capitalizes on the inconsequential. And we, patronizing Facebook, grow accustom to the inconsequential and learn to take it in.

One might hear me making this claim and say “Sure, but you do the same thing when you pick up a book. That distracts you from your family, too.” Now, I think we have to turn off a certain part of our brains to make that kind of claim. No one can rightly equate reading C.S. Lewis and mindlessly surfing Facebook. I would gladly invite Lewis into my living room to spend time with my family; I would, however, bolt the doors to keep out the babbling hoards of Facebook and their stream of consciousness out. This is family time, thank you.

Now, I still have a Facebook profile and will still use the site. I want to do so wisely, however. Facebook can be helpful in several ways, whether that is keeping up with old friends, sending messages, or communicating ideas. But these can all be done in a limited and responsible way. Essentially, I want to own my Facebook, and not the other way around. I want to use Facebook in a way that will teach my son what Dad really values.