Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
I can’t think of anything on the World Wide Web that has become more pervasive than Facebook. Millions of people all over the world are logging into the site every day – posting their thoughts and activities, sharing pictures, searching for information, playing games, and connecting with old friends and new. There are lots positives. There are lots of negatives. But whether you spend hours on the site or avoid it like the plague, Facebook has impacted our lives like nothing else we’ve seen.
On a recent visit to the site, I decided to clean up a few of the old messages that were sitting in message box. As I scrolled down the list of old messages, deciding which to keep and which to remove, my cursor hovered over the X in the corner of one of the boxes. What I saw at first surprised me, then it caused me a little bit of concern. In most programs, clicking the “X” will delete the message. But the word that appeared was not “Delete” – it was “Archive.” This didn’t bother me at first; after all if I’m archiving the messages, I would have access to them later and could delete them later. But upon further investigation what I found was that the messaging feature worked exactly like a delete key in every way. Once the messages were archived, they were gone from my view and I was unable to access them – just as if I had deleted them. But the fact that Facebook was telling me that these messages were not deleted, only archived leads me to believe that those messages went somewhere and could be accessed by me (or somebody else) at a later time.
I must admit I didn’t like the thought of having my every thought and utterance posted in what I believed to be private messages saved up. I don’t make a habit of posting inappropriate things, but I still wouldn’t want every line of every message I’ve ever sent kept and available for further review. But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised by this; I’m sure that this is something clearly stated in the user terms of agreement that I carefully read and fully understood before checking that box when I first signed up for my Facebook account (I’m certain that you read yours too, so feel free to confirm that with me).
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t like the idea of an entity like Facebook having that level of control over me. But as I thought more about it I reminded myself of a simple truth – if I only post content that would be acceptable in a public setting, I would have nothing to worry about. The only thing that could get me in trouble would be to post statements, pictures, and links that I don’t want the whole world to see.
This is the same message that God is speaking to each one of us when He encourages us to limit our thoughts and words to those things which are “noble, pure, etc…” Our first reaction to that kind of message is to get offended and think that we shouldn’t be confined in our ability to express ourselves in whatever way we choose. But where we lose sight of the bigger picture is when we take our individual right to expression and extend it out so far that it creates conflict with others or ultimately reflects poorly upon us. These are worldly things that many people consider basic rights for which they would vehemently fight. As I see it, they fall into the category of gifts given with a responsibility for me to use them appropriately. God created me with a mind to process information, but what I choose to do with that information is entirely up to me. With His help and guidance I can do just that.