Earlier this year Facebook removed 00s of accounts used by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Association which was involved in trying to influence the 2016 US election. It was just another example of fake news and propaganda spreading unchecked through social media. I’m pleased to say I did not encounter much pro-Putin / anti-Clinton propaganda through Facebook at the time, but I often encounter views which I find upsetting or annoying or which I know to be based on half-truths or untruth. Which sometimes makes me think why bother exposing myself to this madness through social media?
This world is a messed-up place. Not because of the internet but because of human beings and their innate ability to put their need for money, sex or power above the needs of their fellow humans or their accountability to God. Sin, the bible calls it. The reason social media sites carry so much fake news is because they are driven by human beings. Jesus said that it’s not what goes into a person that defiles them, but what comes out of the heart (and through the smartphone onto the internet).
God’s approach to this broken world is unambiguous in the teachings of Jesus and his followers. Sin defiles us to the extent that none of us can stand before a Holy God. But God does not pull the plug because he loves us. Through Jesus he comes into the world to tell us of God’s love and God’s standards. Jesus suffers with us – not just life in this broken world, but unjust punishment and unnecessary execution. God suffers loss as his son suffers to bring us the message of his love. (This story has a terrific happy ending which you can read for yourself).
So I’m keeping my Facebook account – at least for the time being, because I think God gets involved and he wants his people to be involved. ‘Being salt and light,’ Jesus called it. I’ve given up responding to mile long arguments from friends whose views differ from mine on matters theological or local – Facebook isn’t a good medium for discussion anyway, especially when more than two parties are involved. But I’m going to keep posting stuff about God and the way he gets his hands dirty dealing with us and about my Christian life and things that bring me and other people joy, wholeness and peace…. And I’m going to continue using Snopes and Hoax Slayer and liberally applied pinches of salt.