7 Ways Facebook is Similar to Porn

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

7 Ways Facebook is Similar to Porn

While I gleaned many good things from the article—things I can apply to how we do business—I began reading the article through a discipleship grid. My counseling 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 newsfeed. 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.

As I was reflecting on what I was reading it reminded me of something I’ve seen repeatedly in my counseling business: the effects of pornography on people. I was enlightened.

This was a new connection for me: Facebook and porn. The more I thought about it the more it became obvious how Facebook could become the new porn for the unsuspecting mind.

I went back through the paragraphs above and pulled out the similarities between the use of Facebook and the use of porn. There were seven of them.

#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 is a key thought for this discussion. If a person’s purpose for Facebook is not about engagement with others, then there is a built-in hook which could grab the soul. To kick your brain into neutral and passively scroll through the news feeds to kill time or fill a void is one of the big 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 can be using it similarly. It’s easy. It’s private. It appears to be safe. It does not require much from the user. Passive engagement is generally not good for any soul.

#2 – Dissatisfaction

Porn can never satisfy because it is not meant to satisfy. It’s like a soda in that it does not quench thirst, but stirs a desire for more. To use porn to fill the eyes and the heart will lead to eventual 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 have to have it, and the more dissatisfied you become. Like an entry drug, you begin with a seemingly innocuous amount. If you continue, you will have to escalate your usage rate. Eventually you will not be able to control it (Galatians 6:1).

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

#3 – Detachment

This is why porn leads to increasing relational detachment. The life you see in the porn world or the Facebook world is not your world. When you come back down to earth after an escape through porn or Facebook, you’re left with reality—a disappointing life.

I talked about this in my article, “How can I compete with women in porn?” You can’t. Your real world is no competition to the world we see in Hollywood, porn, or even in the lives of those on Facebook.

If you’re tempted by this kind of trap that can be found in Facebook, then the best thing you can do is get rid of it. Like porn, if Facebook does not mature you or grow you redemptively then Jesus’ words are wise:

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

This applies to anything in our lives. If the use of something increases relational disconnectivity, then it is bad for us. A miserable person may get their fix through Facebook, but it will not solve the riddle of their misery. There is a Gospel for this kind of need.

#4 – Lurking

Porn is a vicarious life—living your life though someone else. The porn guy wants to be the person acting in the video. The porn lady wants to have what she is seeing on the net.

There is no authentic engagement. Porn is not engagement. It’s passive. It’s vicarious. If Facebook is used passively, then be careful. You may be a lurker.

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

Men are not alone in the Facebook temptation. A woman who is worn down by her life can be tempted to use Facebook as a means of escape.

  • Can you have an honest discussion with your spouse or a close friend about your Facebook usage? Will you?
  • How much time do you spend on Facebook?
  • What is your purpose for your Facebook usage?
  • Do you engage Facebook from a redemptive world view or are you a passive participant looking more to be entertained?

#5 – Envy

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

Porn is a big and easy temptation in our society. We want what we see, but know we cannot have what we see. Even though we know it won’t solve our struggles, we enter into its trap. Like Chinese handcuffs, the more you pull on it, the tighter it becomes around your heart.

  • The more you look at it the more you want it.
  • The more you look at it the more you realize you can’t have it.
  • The more you realize you can’t have it the more hopeless you become.

We should never put anything before our eyes that would draw our minds from the main thing, which is to love God and love others most of all (Matthew 22:36-40). If Facebook tempts you to envy or be jealous, then the solution is a click away.

#6 – Loneliness

The pornographer lives in a isolated and lonely world. The accumulative effect of everything I’ve written thus far cannot lead him to any other place but isolation.

The Internet is a private, passive world where the pornography user can do his deal and not have to be disappointed by real human beings. It’s 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 enjoy regardless of what it does to your soul. One of the things this kind of self-centered thinking will do is begin a process of culling you away from redemptive social contexts.

You’ll become a loner, even when you’re with a hundred people. Your main satisfaction will be the world of the Internet. The world wide web will ensnare you. It will become your drug of choice.

The life of the pornography user can be applied to some Facebook users or most any other allurement for that matter. My mind happened to make Facebook correlations as I read the Social Media article.

#7 – Entertainment

To be entertained is not bad. Nobody should go on a Facebook guilt trip after reading this article. The sin is not in Facebook. The sin is not necessarily in a desire to be entertained.

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 we work through sin, as outlined in Scripture:

  • Amputation—in Matthew 5:29 we learn to cut the sin out of our lives.
  • Mortification—in Romans 8:13 we learn to make dead the sin in our lives.
  • Limitation—in Hebrews 12:1 we learn to lay aside the things which hinder our lives.

To limit does not mean the thing we are limiting is sinful. Food, TV, or Facebook do not have to be sinful. It’s only when we use them sinfully that it is wrong. Sex does not have to be sinful. It’s only when our desire for sex leads us to porn that we have a problem. The things in our lives can be used for good or evil. This is our choice.

By all means, entertain yourself. By all means, do not sin through your choices of entertaining yourself. The word amusement means without the mind. “Muse” means “mind” and the letter “a” in front of it is a negation.

We must be mindful of this. To amuse oneself is not necessarily bad, but you must know you’re intentionally disengaging your mind when you do so.

Put Off and Put On

In Ephesians 4:22-24 we see a template for how to change. It’s Paul’s (1) put off, (2) renew the mind, and (3) put on model. Most of this article was about putting off the things which 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’ve taken the seven negatives that were pulled out of the social media article and put all of them into two positive put on categories:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Engagement

Satisfaction

Facebook can be satisfying. The author of the article said this. You do not need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Facebook can be an amazing tool if it is used for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The irony is how our world thinks the things they do will bring them satisfaction. Sex used wrongly will never satisfy. Facebook used wrongly will never satisfy. To do it wrong will leave you broken and eventually empty and frustrated. The Christian way is counterintuitive to this (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)

All of these answers are found in the Gospel. If your purpose is to use Facebook redemptively, your soul can be satisfied and not left empty. You can feel a sense of reward and gratification rather than feeling worse after your time on the net.

Engagement

Another big put on is engagement. Love is a verb, as you have heard. A verb is an action word. The action will either go away from you or toward you. If your love goes away from you, it’s loving 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 always goes away from Himself and toward others.

If your thoughts about sex are for the other person rather than yourself, you’ll be okay (1 Corinthians 7:4). If your thoughts about Facebook are for other people rather than yourself, you’ll be okay there too. Here’s your call to action as you think about these things.

  1. What brings true satisfaction to your soul?
  2. How are you using Facebook as a means to glorify God?
Photo credit: owenwbrown

Pure Minds Online | Issue 41 | More in this issue: Hot Bods, the Bible, and the Brain | 4 Reasons the Parents Should Block the Internet at Certain Times of Day

This article also appears on RickThomas.net: “Seven ways Facebook is similar to using porn