RMlogo Seven Ways Facebook Is Similar to Using Porn
Courtesy RickThomas.Net

Seven Ways Facebook Is Similar to Using Porn

You will be alarmed when you realize how much Facebook is similar to porn. Though you may be aghast at the idea of pornography and those who use it, the sobering truth is that Facebook can be a subtle and deceptive substitute that is entrapping you.

Recently, I was doing some research about social media, hoping to learn how to do it well. A part of the research took me to this article: Four Things You Thought You Knew About Social Media.

While I gleaned many good things from the article — things I can apply to how we do the “business side” of ministry, I began reading the article through a discipleship grid. My “discipleship mind” kicked in as I rolled through the following few paragraphs:

A more recent study, published in August, found that people who had used Facebook tended to feel less satisfied with life afterward. The more they used it in the time between contacts, the more their satisfaction dropped.
It turns out that the way people use social networks can lead to completely different results. Most people who use Facebook spend most of their time lurking. They use it passively: scrolling through their news feed. This kind of activity leads to the aforementioned envy, loneliness, and loss of life satisfaction.
Those who used Facebook actively, on the other hand, saw the opposite result. Those who engaged with content left comments and used the chat feature tended to feel better after using the platform. What does all of this mean when we put it together?
The way that most people use Facebook leads to the most negative results. Most people are using Facebook to pass the time and entertain themselves. This kind of passive use, in turn, leaves them feeling less emotionally satisfied afterward than they did before.

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As I was reflecting on what I was reading, it reminded me of something I have seen in counseling repeatedly: the effects of pornography on people. And I was enlightened.

These ideas gave me a new connection: Facebook to porn. The more I thought about it, the more it became apparent how Facebook could become the “new porn” for today’s culture.

I went back through the paragraphs from the article and pulled out the similarities between the use of Facebook and the use of porn. There were seven of them, in no particular order.

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#1 — Passivity — Porn is not active engagement with another person. Porn is not about the other person at all. Porn is about a person satisfying himself with what he is looking at on a screen or in a magazine.

This concept is key to this discussion. If a person’s purpose for Facebook is not about engagement with others, there is a built-in hook that could grab them. Kicking your brain into neutral, while passively scrolling through feeds to kill time or fill a void is one of the biggest attractions of Facebook.

Facebook is set up to capture the lonely and dissatisfied heart. Like the voyeur surfing the net in the basement, the tempted Facebook looker does similarly. It is easy. It is private. It appears to be safe. It does not require much. Passive engagement is not okay for any soul.

#2 — Dissatisfaction — Porn never satisfies because it is not meant to please biblical desires. It is like soda in that it does not quench thirst, but stirs a desire for more. Using porn to fill the eyes and the heart leads to insurmountable dissatisfaction.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. — Ecclesiastes 1:8

The more you use it, the more you must have it, and the more you have it, the more dissatisfied you become. Like an entry drug, you begin with an innocuous amount. As you continue, you will have to escalate your usage rate. Eventually, you will not be able to control it (Galatians 6:1).

“If” (an operative word) Facebook is being used to kill time or fill a void, it will not only leave you dissatisfied, but it will uncover deeper dissatisfaction levels in your soul. As the article suggests, you will be worse off after using it than before you started.

#3 — Detachment — Disconnectedness is why porn leads to increasing relational detachment. The life you see in the porn world (or the Facebook world) is not your real world. When you come back to your real world after an escape through porn or Facebook, the reality of a disappointing life confronts you.

I talked about this in my article, How Can I Compete With Cyber Women? You can’t. Your real world cannot compete with the world you see in Hollywood, porn, or even in the lives of those on Facebook.

If this kind of trap on Facebook tempts you, the best thing you can do is get rid of it. Like porn, if Facebook does not mature you or grow you redemptively, it would be wise to heed Jesus’ words:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. — Matthew 5:29

Amputating non-redemptive habits applies to anything in our lives. If the use of something increases relational dis-connectivity, it is wrong. A miserable person may get their fix on through Facebook, but it will not solve the complexity of their misery. There is a gospel for that kind of problem.

#4 — Lurking — Porn is a vicarious life — living your life through someone else. The porn user wants to be the person acting in the video. The porn user wants to have what she sees on the net.

There is no authentic engagement. Porn is not about engagement. It is passive. It is vicarious. If you use Facebook passively, be careful. You may be a lurker.

Isn’t this the lure and trap of the rich and the famous? We see and want what they have. What about the man who is tired of his wife? Will he be tempted to find something better through porn? Or through real life adultery?

Men are not alone in the Facebook temptation. The woman who is worn down by her life or frustrated in her marriage is tempted easily to use Facebook as a means of escape.

Time to Reflect

  1. Will you have an honest discussion with your spouse or a close friend about your Facebook usage?
  2. How much time do you spend on Facebook?
  3. What is your purpose for your Facebook usage?
  4. Do you engage Facebook from a redemptive worldview or are you a passive participant looking for entertainment?

#5 — Envy — You could almost predict what would happen next, based on what you have read thus far. Jealousy and envy — competing cousins — will show up in your heart and begin a tug-o-war. And you will be the loser in this war.

Porn is an easy temptation in our society. We want what we see, but know we cannot have it. Even though we are aware it will not solve our struggles, we step into the trap willingly. Like Chinese handcuffs, the more you pull on it, the tighter it becomes around your heart. The progression is,

  1. The more you look at it, the more you want it.
  2. The more you look at it, the more you realize you cannot have it.
  3. The more you realize you cannot have it, the more hopeless you become.

You should never put anything before your eyes that would draw your mind from loving God and others most of all (Matthew 22:36–40). If Facebook tempts you to envy or jealousy, the solution is just a click away (2 Timothy 2:22).

#6 — Loneliness — The pornographer lives in an isolated and lonely world — in his mind. The accumulative effect of everything I have written thus far cannot lead him to any other place but isolation.

The Internet is a private, passive world where the pornographer can do his thing and never be disappointed by real-world human beings. It is like getting lost in a video game or a movie.

You can enter the Internet, and for a brief space of time, you can enjoy what you want to regardless of what it does to your soul. This kind of self-centered thinking will begin a process of pulling you away from redemptive social contexts.

You will become a loner, even when you are with a hundred people. You will find your primary satisfaction on the Internet. The worldwide web will ensnare you. And it will become your drug of choice.

You can apply the life of the pornographer to some Facebook users (or most any other allurement for that matter).

#7 — Entertainment — To be entertained is not bad necessarily. Nobody should go on a “Facebook guilt trip” after reading this article. The sin problem in view here is not Facebook activity. The sin issue is not necessarily a desire for entertainment.

Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. — Hebrews 12:1

There are three ways for you to think about and work the Facebook dilemma if it is a problem for you. We see these three ways outlined in Scripture:

  • Amputation — in Matthew 5:29 you learn to cut the sin out of your life.
  • Mortification — in Romans 8:13 you learn to make dead the sin in your life.
  • Limitation — in Hebrews 12:1 you learn to lay aside the things that hinder your life.

To limit does not mean the thing you are limiting is sinful. Food, TV, or Facebook do not have to be sinful. It is only sinful when you use them sinfully. Sex does not have to be sinful. It is only when your desires for sex becomes porn-like: I want to get more than I want to give (Philippians 2:3–4). You can use the things in your life for good or evil. You have that choice.

By all means, entertain yourself. Take a break. Enjoy fun times. And by all means, do not sin when you choose to entertain yourself. The word amusement means “without the mind.” “Muse” means “mind” and the letter “a” in front of it is a negation.

Be Mindful Of This: To amuse oneself is not necessarily bad, but you must know you are intentionally disengaging your mind when you do so.

Put On These Two Things

In Ephesians 4:22–24 you see a template for how to change. It is Paul’s (1) put off, (2) renew the mind, and (3) put on model. Most of this article is about putting off the things that tempt you to sin.

There is a way to find the things your soul is looking for without falling into the potential black hole of Facebook. I have taken the seven negatives that were pulled out of the social media article and put them into two positive put on categories:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Engagement

Satisfaction — Facebook can be satisfying. The author of the social media article said so. There does not have to be a need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Facebook can be a fantastic tool if you use it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The irony is how our world thinks the things they do will satisfy them. Sex used wrongly will never satisfy. Facebook used improperly will never satisfy. To do it wrong will leave you broken and eventually empty and frustrated. The Christian way is counterintuitive to self-destructive thinking and behaving (1 Corinthians 1:18–25).

  • How could a cross and a tomb be satisfying? (Matthew 28:6)
  • How could losing my life be the secret to being satisfied? (Matthew 16:26)
  • How could power and strength be found in weakness? (2 Corinthians 12:10)

You find all of these answers in the gospel: thinking redemptively. If your purpose is to use Facebook redemptively, your soul will find satisfaction, and you’ll not experience emptiness. You will feel a sense of reward and gratification rather than feel worse after your time on the net.

Engagement — The second “put on” is engagement. Love is a verb, as you have heard. A verb is an action word. The “action” will either move away from you or toward you. If your love moves away from you, then you love others more than yourself (Philippians 2:3–4).

This kind of thinking is at the heart of the gospel. God so loved the world that He gave us His Son (John 3:16). The Father’s love goes away from Himself and rushes toward others.

  • If your thoughts about sex are for the other person rather than yourself, you will be okay (1 Corinthians 7:4).
  • If your thoughts about Facebook are for other people rather than yourself, you will be fine.

Call to Action

  1. What brings true satisfaction to your soul?
  2. Is Facebook, to some degree, a God-replacement?
  3. Should you get rid of it (amputate) or set it aside (limit)?
  4. What do you need to mortify (make dead) regarding your social media outlets?
  5. What about a Facebook fast?

Originally published at Rick Thomas.

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