Facebook, False God*

Facebook wants your worship.  I know that sounds extreme, but what if it’s true?  What if the thing Facebook most desires is to make you most desire it?  Isn’t that idolatry?

Worship=Attention

What has your attention is what has your worship.  What you think about in your free moments, the topics and places to which your thoughts tend to go, those are your gods.  By that definition, what many of us are worshipping is Facebook and the various other social media and infotainment sites.  Click, click, click.

And, in our naiveté, we have turned our eyes to a god-like entity that has its greedy eyes on our lives.

Cal Newport, Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown, makes the obvious (but rarely stated) point in his book Deep Work that we are fools if we think these Internet tools (that we find so addictive) were created to bless us without demanding something in return:

We no longer see Internet tools as products released by for-profit companies, funded by investors hoping to make a return, and run by twentysomethings who are often making things up as they go along.

from Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

Facebook makes MONEY off your attention.  No wonder, then, that Mark Zuckerberg and his staff have worked so hard to make Facebook irresistible.  Click.  Click.  Click.

And, not only does Facebook make money off your attention, Facebook doesn’t care about you or what will happen to you, as long as it gets what it wants.

If you think about it, the world around us, including the world in our computers, is all about trying to tempt us to do things right now.  Take Facebook, for example.  Do they want you to be more productive twenty years from now?  Or do they want to take your time, attention, and money right now?  The same thing goes for YouTube, online newspapers, and so on.

from Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

So, Facebook is something that: 1. Makes money from our attention.  2.  Doesn’t care about the consequences but allures and tempts with each click, click, click.

Is Facebook a false god?

*I am aware that some of you will see irony in the fact that you actually accessed this post through Facebook.  Rather than irony, I see it as an insurgency.  I am also aware that many of you will want to defend your (and my) use of Facebook.  Ask yourself, Why?

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11 thoughts on “Facebook, False God*

  1. Tough one for us in the social media industry there friend!

    Of course, I’m not the expert here, but I feel like instead of vilifying the platform (and others) in it’s entirety, we should be questioning our motives and intentions with our use of said platforms. The problem is not FaceBook- it’s us.

    There are many organizations with social media profiles leveraging the audience for good. These things can (and a lot of times are) be used responsibly. I just don’t feel that there are absolutes here…

    • Kirsten,

      I totally hear you, but what I worry about is the way we embrace these for-profit technologies in a naive and unthinking manner. I also worry less about the content than the platform itself. There is just something about the way the Internet encourages narcissism and mindless clicking that worries me.

      I’m really speaking out of things I’m noticing in my own life.

      Andrew

      • I get it and I understand where you’re coming from but you said it,”… but what I worry about is the way WE embrace these for-profit technologies in a naive and unthinking manner.” I agree, people should educate themselves and be consumers that are aware of what they’re being fed- that they’re being fed at all. I think someone mentioned it in a comment as well…it’s not all that different from what TV has been all about for years too.
        And I agree…it can be an addiction but that’s on the addict not the poison…just my two cents.

          • Ok…so I can’t sleep thinking about a comment I made here earlier about addiction that warrants and apology and I’m not too big for my boots to admit when I’m wrong. I realize that many in our congregation have had to deal with this and that many would also incorrectly assume that I have no experience with addiction (I do, both personally and having spent the better part of my working career in a clinic environment). The comment was a visceral reaction and flippant and had no place in a discussion of this nature.
            Andrew, I commend you for planting the seed in this discussion – it prompted at least an hour-long session in our house!

  2. I am so glad that you addressed this new addiction shared by so many that you have described as idolatry. I have personally boycotted Facebook for a number of reasons and now have one more.

    • I think maybe the first step is just to be aware of what these tools are doing to us, and perhaps to seriously think of giving them up. That’s what I’m considering right now.