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Dear Father Gale: I have been thinking about deleting my Facebook account. What do you think, Father?
Let us just say this: if Facebook leads you to grow in holiness, then don’t delete it. If it leads you into sin, then yes, get rid of it. Morally speaking, the act of having a Facebook account is neither good nor evil. It is morally neutral. With that said, many of us have encountered people who, through using Facebook, have become both at times virtuous, and at other times, vicious.
To help you decide whether you personally should have an account, let us ask a few questions:
- Does Facebook inspire you to learn more about your faith?
- Does it inspire you to pray for those in need?
- Does it keep you connected with old friends?
- Do you use it as a means of evangelization?
If you answer yes to these previous questions, then your Facebook account is serving its purpose well. On the other hand, let us examine a few points in regard to the negative side of Facebook.
- Is Facebook a near occasion of sin for you?
- Does it lead you to despair, anger, lust, jealousy?
- Does it lead to vanity or too much time spent inwardly focused?
- Do you find yourself posting things that you would not say to another in person?
- Does it distract you from doing that which is important?
If you answer yes to these questions, then I would recommend a change. Ultimately, I am unable to tell you what to do with regard to whether or not you should have an account, but I will offer you a few tips if you do decide to be on Facebook.
- Just because something is on Facebook, this does not mean you must give it your attention. People know which posts will upset them. I would advise avoiding those articles. This also does not mean that you should put yourself in a box and never enter dialogue with those who have differing ideas, but it does mean that it is okay to avoid posts that will prove to be incendiary.
- Never post anything if you are not in control of your emotions. Especially if you find yourself angry.
- Never post anything if you have had even one glass of alcohol.
- Always remember that things you post are permanent. In conclusion, this is your decision, and you know yourself. As for me, Father Gale Hammerschmidt, I do have a Facebook account, and it is my promise that I will strive to use it to grow in holiness, and as a tool for evangelization.
Father Gale Hammerschmidt is the chaplain of the St. Isidore Student Center at Kansas State University and is co-vocation director. E-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at 103 North Ninth Street, Salina, KS 67401.