Spring Cleaning

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“Formspring,” I said, “what’s that?”  It’s the creatively decorated personal page attached to my 16-year-old daughter’s Facebook page that beckons all who are interested to come “share” something about her … anonymously!  Whether they know her from school or have simply seen her photo on a friend’s Facebook newsfeed, “Formspring helps people find out more about each other through sharing interesting & personal responses.”

With ten million responses every day, Formspring encourages users to be creative in sharing insights about themselves so that others may “share” a comment.  It suggests offering things on your page that make your friends smile, like a YouTube video of a song that you like or a video of yourself asking/answering questions.  Then, in response, the “friend” offers a comment.

Sounds harmless, right?  Hardly.  Consider a few posts I found while perusing some random Formspring pages:

  • “I hate this site, everyone says things to my sister; saying she’s weird. It’s not right.”
  • “You’re a _______ _____!”
  • “Why do you wear such ugly eye shadow?”
  • “If you get abused then delete your account. I did and I don’t regret deleting it ‘cause now I can’t get abused.  If they want to abuse me, they will have to say it to my face instead of hiding behind a computer.”
  • “Formspring is gonna cause the suicide of teenagers everywhere.”
  • “It’s stupid to commit suicide if someone is picking on you. Don’t kill yourself, take a bat and beat them with it”
  • “Why are you so ugly?”
  • “If only teachers had Formsprings!”

In my search, and including what I’d already been exposed to in the last year or so, the instances of kindness and compassion on Formspring were rare.  On the contrary, the above comments, as well as countless others, prove Formspring is ripe for all kinds of misbehavior, slander, rage, and cyber-bullying.

“My goodness,” you might say. “Who would expose themselves to this type of grief?”  Over 3.5 million unique visitors every day, spending on average 11.5 minutes, with a total of 20 million accounts.

As Christians, we know why Formspring’s original intent is not being realized.  Although our secular society mistakenly believes that we’re all basically good people, the Bible paints a very different picture.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

Therefore, offering people an opportunity to “post from the heart” is simply absurd.  Instead, the Bible encourages us to:

  • “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

It also reminds us that:

  • “… men will be lovers of themselves … [being] disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

And David said in Psalm 141:4:

  • “Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies,” but instead, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

And, with the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8 to fix our thoughts on “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,” our charge is clear: Keep ourselves from the mind-rot of Formspring and instead focus on that which is good.

While touted as a fun, inspiring place to “share” things about other people, Formspring is simply a free place on your computer to bully, backstab, and hurl insults at hopeful users.  Formspring is not a wellspring of good, but a place of hurt, shame, and betrayal.  We need to encourage our children to steer clear of such fool-headed nonsense.

CWA friend and member Julie Tate is a wife, mother, speaker, and Bible study author/teacher.  Find out more about her ministry at www.julietateministries.com.

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