There has been a lot of buzz surrounding 'Facebook Messenger' and the permissions and functions you are allowing the app to do. It has gotten so big in the past few days, that even some national news stations have been picking it up and running with it. People are taking their stand against Facebook by deleting the app off their phone and this trend seems to be spreading like wildfire. So, what is the big deal? Why should we be concerned? Well, to be honest, we probably shouldn't be.
When I first got a glimpse of one of these reports, I was skeptical to say the least. Facebook is not a stranger to being in the limelight of controversy when it comes to privacy and it usually gets blown out of proportion (in my humble opinion).
Now, don't get me wrong. There are loads of things that drive me crazy about how Facebook chooses to operate and decisions on how they develop their site and apps. One example is constantly forcing the user to have to read 'Top Stories' vs 'Most Recent' while scrolling through their newsfeed, even when then would rather use 'Most Recent' and they are doing it again with Messenger and not giving the end user the option to use it or not.
But this isn't the main thing getting people in a tizzy. If you were to take these reports at face value, you might think Facebook wants to take over your phone to kill you while you sleep. But with some closer examinations and some much needed clarification this actually doesn't seem to be the case. I won't go into detail as there is much info explaining this. Here are a few blogs from people trying to explain what is really going on: snopes.com; htxt.africa; onmedia.org.
But in short, the wording in these new policies is not as it seems and we are probably reading things into it that don't actually exist. The reality is, this language isn't unique to Facebook and comes directly from Android and their expectations from app developers using any function of a phone (which can be seen in the articles above) and by the same reasoning we should delete every app on our smartphone that uses any function like text, calls or our camera because they all ask the same permissions.
Fear sells and fear can, in many ways, persuade people to swing towards a point of view with very little effort.
But now I simply digress. What I am more interested in doing in this post is ask the question of 'why?'. Why the uproar and frenzy? Why the panic and mass deletion of an app that is probably harmless? In short, the answer is fear.
Fear has always been a powerful communication tool. Whether in the media, news outlets, government, conspiracy theorists, end times preachers and the list goes on. Fear sells and fear can, in many ways, persuade people to swing towards a point of view with very little effort. If I can drive enough fear into a situation, I can almost convince you of anything (if you are willing to believe it and give into that fear).
Now, I am not saying that being fearful of something is never warranted or the reality of that fear isn't genuine, but what I am saying is our human reaction towards fear is usually one that makes decisions more towards raw emotion and not so much with discernment. It is like our minds gravitate towards the worst- case scenario and cling to that. What worries me most about this obsession and manipulation of fear is that it so often robs us of things like: joy, peace, hope, trust and security. Be it as simple as not trusting our neighbours because they may have the worst intentions in mind, or stressing over the end of the world or some one world order.
Seek a foundation of living in joy, peace, hope and trust in wisdom and discernment which all comes from above (James 1:17; 3:17)
I am, by no means, an expert in the science of fear and its effect on us as humans and what warrants rational fear vs irrational fears, but I would like to challenge us to change our thinking away from fear and encourage us to, foremost, cling to and find our lives deeply rooted in virtues like joy, peace, hope and trust. Because when we are controlled by fear and the uneasy tides of that fear, we can be swayed so easily from left to right and pulled into so many unhealthy and destructive paths (James 1:5).
To ultimately accomplish this isn't to be lost in idealistic optimism, but being grounded in mature wisdom and discernment. Discernment is defined as: the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well (or the activity of so doing) which involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced judgments about its properties or qualities. Considered as a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.
Seek a foundation of living in joy, peace, hope and trust grounded in wisdom and discernment which all comes from above (James 1:17; 3:17). Don't be quick to react and jump on the bandwagon; do some research, test the credibility of the source and ultimately trust in joy, peace and hope of God over the fear of this world.
I would encourage you to meditate on these verses and I hope they bring you a little more joy and hope and peace in your life.
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. // Prov. 29:25
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