Josh Harris on FACEBOOK


by Joshua Harris, Pastor of Covenant Life Church in Maryland

Last week, on a whim, I signed up for a Facebook account. I had no friends and no idea what I was doing. So I asked for advice and begged for friends. I got both. A bunch of people–everyone from students at my church, to a very helpful atheist professional blogger, to Christian uber-blogger Tim Challies–took the time to thoughtfully answer my questions. I learned a lot and got a kick out of many of the humorous answers. And if all that weren’t enough, many of you “friended” me.
For the past seven days I’ve really enjoyed Facebook. It is a lot fun and a great way to connect with people. I now understand why it’s so incredibly popular. But today I decided to bring my Facebook career to an abrupt end. I’m weird, huh? But here are some of the reasons I’m calling it quits…
First, I just don’t have enough self-control not to check my page constantly. In one week I saw what many of you warned me about: it’s addictive. I found myself tempted to update my “status” every five minutes. “Joshua Harris is walking across his office. Joshua Harris sitting in his office chair. Joshua Harris is wasting valuable time describing what he is doing.”
This year I’m starting work on a new book and when I’m writing I am looking for any excuse not to write. When I’m supposed to be writing I am so easily sidetracked. I want to clear my inbox, weed the garden, answer emails that I’ve already answered, trim my nails…you name it, I am looking for distraction. If I had the temptation to check my Facebook during a writing project, I’d be a goner. The book would never get written.
But even if I weren’t writing a book, I don’t need another reason for staring at a computer screen. I’m constantly needing to evaluate is how much time I spend emailing, browsing and blogging. Now obviously a lot of that activity is good, useful work. But sometimes it can be a time-waster. I think God’s been helping me improve at knowing when to unplug from cyberville and connect with the real, rich world of reality–playing with my kids, talking to my wife, taking a walk. Throwing Facebook in the mix of my online options is just a little too much for me right now.
The other reason I feel right about making my time with Facebook just a visit is a little harder to explain. How do I put this? I found that it encouraged me to think about me even more than I already do–which is admittedly already quite a bit. Does that make any sense? Without any help from the internet I’m inclined to give way too much time to evaluating myself, thinking about myself and wondering what other people think of me. If that egocentrism is a little flame, than Facebook for me is a gasoline IV feeding the fire. I need to grow in self-forgetfulness. I need to worry more about what God is thinking of me. I need to be preoccupied with what he’s written in his word, not what somebody just wrote on my “wall.”
And, finally, I need to read more. There are so many good books I want to read and so little time. If I added up the few minutes here and there that I spent checking Facebook this past week it wouldn’t be an insignificant amount of time. I’d rather give that time to reading.
Anyway, all of the above is totally personal and is in no way an indictment on other Facebookers. This is just where I’m at right now. Who knows…I might be back when the kids are grown and the book is written and I have more self-control. Okay, it might be awhile.
To all the people who so very kindly “friended” me I’m so sorry to have wasted your time. I hope we can still be friends in the real world.
Thanks for letting me visit.

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