Russell Moore, who has become my favorite Baptist after John, recently wrote a helpful post on a study which claimed that logging onto Facebook can make you depressed. The key is that since people on Facebook almost exclusively post things that make them and their lives look happy and wonderful, when we see these posts we are left feeling inferior and discontent. Moore quite correctly points out that we can witness the same effect in our churches, where Christians put on happy, joyful faces when they are really living lives of suffering and confusion and sorrow.

Moore is dead on here. I have known many people, myself included, who have been hurt and offended by churches which have accepted the American-dream-Christianity ideal that we must be happy and smiling all the time. Depression, sin, weakness, anger, sorrow, and even sickness are seen in many circles as signs of a lack of faith or spirituality. But Moore observes that these attitudes are strictly unbiblical, and that if we read and appreciate the entire Bible we will see that we are called to suffer and weep and mourn at times.

The conclusion that Moore draws is that we need to make a conscious effort in our churches to combat this dangerous lie that saccharine happiness as a sign of spiritual maturity. This means that we need to be honest with each other about our mental, physical, and spiritual trials. This requires openness, which inevitably leaves us open to betrayal and abuse. But it is necessary.

While I agreed with Moore’s conclusions regarding the church, I wonder about how we are to apply this to our interactions on Facebook. I have seen people share personal trials on Facebook many times, but in general, when this happens instead of elevating the discourse on Facebook from its superficial, here’s – what – I – found – funny – online — today level, it quite often trivializes serious issues.

How do you think we can interact on Facebook in such a way as to discourage the envy and covetousness that inevitably lead to depression?


  1. “The key is that since people on Facebook almost exclusively post things that make them and their lives look happy and wonderful.”

    Man, Facebook changes everything so often that I don’t even know where anything is anymore!! Can’t they just leave it alone?? So far, mine’s still the same but if Moore’s seeing this change to Facebook, I’m sure they’re just rolling out the change gradually and by this time next week I will only be seeing happy updates from my friends. Does anyone know the setting we’ll have to change to make it so I can still view my friends mopey updates like I can now?

    On the other hand, if I’m no longer able to see 2/3 of my friends’ updates, it will be easier to keep track of what’s going on with them. Or at least with my happy friends.

  2. The other option, of course, is that Facebook isn’t changing anything and Russell Moore just has lame friends. Which I find depressing. Proving the articles point, I guess.

  3. Seth, it has been far too long since you have darkened my blog-doorstep with your comment antics.

  4. I know. I’m sorry to have been away so long.

    I realize that any post about what Facebook is like is going to be entirely anecdotal, so let’s start coding them that way. Articles that posit that This is what Facebook is like are always going to rub me the wrong way for their inability to back up their claims.

    A better article would be, “Hey! If your Facebook friends are overly happy and that’s making you depressed, just realize that they’re all most likely as miserable and imperfect as you are. Or else they are happier than you, in which case, too bad for you but don’t sweat it because you should be concerned about your own bad attitude rather than how much they love their kids and you still have daddy issues.”

    I mean, it still wouldn’t have anything to do with me, but at least it wouldn’t be pretending to. Isn’t an article that says that Facebookers are all pretending to be happy and making everyone else depressed being just as fake as the people who are pretending to be happy?

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