If you’re anything like me or 48% of other Facebook users, one of the first things you do when you wake up is check your news feed. Or maybe you’re one of the 28% who peruse its contents before they even get out of bed. There are mornings I come across really inspirational posts from friends that linger in the recesses of my mind throughout the day, challenging me to be a better Christian. But there are also days when my friends post raunchy pictures that refuse to erase themselves from my memory, no matter how many times I press the “delete” button.
Three hundred million photos are posted to Facebook alone every day. That’s three hundred million photos that are completely unfiltered and posted at the total discretion of the user. Just because you are a Christian and have certain beliefs about what is and is not appropriate doesn’t mean that all of your friends on Facebook share those beliefs. User discretion (a person’s ability to decide responsibly) can mean something totally different from one person to the next. The FAQ page on Facebook reiterates this fact:
Reporting a profile (timeline), group, page, or any other content doesn’t guarantee that they or it will be removed. The Facebook community is extremely diverse. It’s possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for removal.
So how are we, those who take discretion to mean we must diligently guard our eyes, supposed to handle such issues? There are a few options I have found that have been helpful in my use of Facebook and my dealings with friends.
Option 1: Keep It Real
If the person is a friend and they’re posting provocative pictures of themselves or others, approach them about it. There’s no need to find the heaviest Bible you own to practice your Bible thumping skills; just be transparent about how the content they post presents a stumbling block for you (transparency speaks so much louder than condemnation) and share how much you would appreciate that they be mindful of that the next time they post a picture.
As a mentor for teenage girls, I typically approach their obsession with taking sexy pictures of themselves by informing them that their pictures read more like advertisements, and they never know who could be out there “shopping” for the next snack. I then use that as a springboard to affirm their inner beauty and identity in Christ. The conversation could go various ways, but you’d be surprised at how many people will respond positively to your requests if you do it right.
Option 2: Selective Vision
So maybe your friend isn’t as mature as the previously mentioned bunch and refuses to stop posting scandalous or pornographic images. Maybe the friend is a family member and you don’t want to remove him altogether from your Facebook life. What do you do then?
To keep from seeing content certain people post, you can easily hide them from your news feed. The method for implementing this step has changed with every Facebook update, but here is the most current one:
- Go to that person’s timeline.
- On the top right header of his profile, click “following” to automatically unfollow the person. This won’t remove him from your friends list, but it will keep his stories from appearing on your news feed.
So the next morning when you begin your morning routine, your news feed will only display posts from people you know are tracking with your definition of discretion.
Option 3: Cut Off What Causes You to Sin
Sometimes hiding someone from your news feed is simply not enough. Maybe that person thinks it’s funny to post racy pictures on your timeline or send them to you in personal messages. Maybe they don’t care that you’ve politely asked them to stop doing so. If that’s the case, it’s probably time to cut them off.
A word to the wise: don’t make excuses for reasons as to why you should maintain certain people as friends if they are consistently posting things that tempt you to sin. Just take a deep breath in, click, and before you exhale, the check mark beside “friend” on that person’s timeline will completely disappear.
Option 4: For the Sake of Others
Now, I’ll admit that the majority of the items on my list of options thus far have been pretty selfish. They ensure that you don’t have to deal with dirty images taking up residence in the dark recesses of your brain, but what about the other people that will see it? What about the young man or young woman whose resolve isn’t quite as strong as yours? If you really want to show that you love your neighbor as much as yourself, you should probably do him a favor by reporting the image.
This only applies to images that are pornographic in nature, though I sometimes wish I could report some of the selfies adolescent girls post these days. Facebook staff will review the picture and take it down, but only if it meets their criteria, so you might want to familiarize yourself with that. Remember, if Facebook doesn’t come through on taking it down, there’s always the direct approach.
Employing one or more of these options will do wonders for the maintenance of your purity of mind as you scroll through your news feed, but that’s really not the ultimate goal. As you strive to keep yourself unspotted from the world, you’re practicing a facet of what God calls pure religion (James 1:27). Just remember that it’s not just about taking down the bad, but it’s about building up the good. For every negative post you come across, share two positive. You never know whose memory your words might stick with for the rest of the day.
Photo credit: melenita
S’ambrosia Wasike co-authored the book, A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free From Pornography: It’s Not Just a Guy’s Problem with award winning author, Shelley Hitz. She is a writer for The Lookout Magazine, and thesparkmag.com.