Bednar Was Wrong About Facebook

ArthurCulture, fear, Humor, media, media manipulation, Mormon 51 Comments

Last year, Elder Bednar gave a talk at BYU-I on a subject that weighed deeply on his soul. At the time, I read his words and felt a twinge of sadness. How could he fear something as useful and worthwhile as online social networking? Sites like Facebook have integrated themselves into the fabric of our society like gold thread in a brilliant tapestry, or like the deep, misty green of kudzu here in Kentucky. It has become a part of who we are.

Now, a year later, I still think that Elder Bednar was wrong. Facebook has and will permanently improve every aspect of our social lives. I wrote the following paper to illustrate why.

In the late hours of October 23, 2003, slowly getting drunk after being rejected by a girl, a Harvard undergraduate and computer programmer named Mark Zuckerberg was hit by a sudden cruel bout of inspiration. He was looking through a photographic directory (called a “facebook”) of his dormitory, and noted on his blog that some of the photos were so “horrendous,” that he was tempted “to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.” Hours later, he had successfully created a website, abandoning the farm animals idea, but instead comparing Harvard students with each other using hacked photographs and information. Just a few hours later, and after 22,000 page views, Harvard officials had traced the source of the website and shut it down, citing privacy concerns. Now, with more than 1000 employees and over 400 million active users, according to Facebook Factsheet, carries underneath its stark blue banner a markedly different statement of purpose: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”

Many have voiced concerns over the use of online social networking tools, such as Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He has called online presences “digital distractions, diversions, and detours” that could lead to difficulties in marriage, or a decrease in eternal, meaningful friendships. I can’t help but think that anyone who has a problem with Facebook merely doesn’t know enough about it.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third-largest by population, just under China and India, and Facebook is now offered in 70 languages. Around 200 million users will log on to Facebook in any given day, and of these, 35 million will update their statuses. More than 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month. By October 2007, Time magazine’s Bill Tancer reported that, among 18- to 24-year-olds, social networking was the most-accessed type of web site on the Internet, outranking email, search engines, and pornography. In fact, Tancer quips that, statistically, it seems that when online social networking use goes up, pornography use goes down. What could appeal to young people more than the institutionalized voyeurism offered by online pornography? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg said it best, quoted in Rolling Stone: “People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought.”

But Facebook is not just a tool for prying into our friends’ lives. Facebook offers ingenious and simple solutions to many of the problems that plague our youth today. Previous to online social networking services, people had to make friends through personal, non-digital interaction. This was often painstaking, emotionally taxing, and slow. In order to learn another person’s interests and favorite activities, one had to have arduous conversations, feigning interest and engagement until the relevant information could be obtained. Human beings were needlessly confusing and multi-faceted. Facebook offers a better way. On each Facebook user’s page is an “Info” page. There, the user lists their personal characteristics, including interests and activities. Popular ones include “sports,” “music,” and “reading.” Mine says “songwriting.” I can easily go through my friends list and find other people interested in songwriting. Finding kindred spirits is easier and simpler thanks to Facebook.

Finding people with similar interests is one thing, discovering a person’s sexual orientation was even worse. It was socially demanding, and sometimes had to be done through roundabout means. This often led to embarrassment and offense. It required tip-toeing around the issue, carefully gauging a person’s affiliation through indirect personal queries. People went years without even declaring their orientation, deciding rather to personally cultivate and incubate those feelings for long periods of time. In the meantime, their casual acquaintances were left scratching their heads and wishing that the issue could be settled, so that judgment could no longer be withheld. However, on a person’s Facebook Info page, there is a section where he or she can publicly state whether they are interested in women, men, or both. Mine says “Interested in: women.”

Similarly, religious affiliation was once seen as a private dimension of one’s personality, and thus it was socially unacceptable to attain this information without grueling theological and philosophical discourse. It was not uncommon to have to hear a person’s entire life story and reasons for believing, in order to arrive at their religious affiliation. These traits were once very personal, carefully guarded, and sacred. Often, religion was left out of discussions altogether, for fear that one might be invited to a church service, Bar Mitzvah, or mosque, or that a controversial issue might be ignited in conversation. With Facebook, the process is streamlined, and the risk of controversial discourse is eliminated. Just check their Info box. Mine says “Latter-day Saint.”

Thus, important evaluations about a person’s character can be made with the click of your mouse. No longer must a person withhold appraisal until a clearer picture of their friend is obtained. It is now easier than ever to avoid the people you disagree with, and reduce complex social interactions.

In the past, people often found themselves longing for information about long-lost friends. Conversations about the past included references to characteristics and traits of their old friends, questions as to their whereabouts, and wishing that one could talk to them again, punctuated with sighing ruminations on how time flies. With online social networking, one can easily find out what these people had for breakfast this morning (and every morning). Each Facebook user has a white box on their front page that reads, “What’s on your mind?” One may type in their current whereabouts, opinion on the weather, or recent activities in what is called a “status update.” Below this box are the status updates of many of one’s closest friends. Some examples on my front page from my friends include, “meh,” “Babysitin [sic] my little nephews :),” “irritated…..,” and “oh life!!!” My own status says, “Does anyone want to come with my Arabic class to eat Mediterranean tonight?”

You might notice that these status updates seem simplistic and reductionist. This is by design. Many social interactions that existed previous to Facebook were seeped in over-stimulating meaning. Much time and effort were wasted by young people trying to understand and connect with each other. Young people’s hearts and minds caught fire as they participated in these exchanges. Should we really be over-stimulating our young people? Facebook offers a superior form of interaction through its “poke” function. Poke is a harmless, meaningless, effortless interaction, which undoubtedly leads to little misunderstanding, anger, friendship, or violence amongst our youth. On a person’s page, there is an option to poke them. Poke serves no function; Facebook merely informs that person that they have been poked. They then have the option to poke back.

Therefore, conflict is avoided through personal detachment. And when conflict cannot be avoided, it requires relatively little effort. Consider the following. In previous social interactions, confronting someone with a personal conflict or problem was a difficult task requiring great courage. One had to organize thoughts, plan a confrontation, and meet face-to-face with the object of their problem in order to work out a resolution. With online social networking, sending an angry email requires only the click of a button, and no face-to-face dialogue. People no longer need long nights of sleep to temper their emotions; one can now easily send a confrontational diatribe at 3 a.m., before rationality and a night’s sleep dull one’s emotions. And what if one receives an email like this from a friend? They are easily unfriended, or, in other words, removed from one’s friends list.

You see, before online social networking, “friend” was a poorly-defined term. Making friends required gaining the trust of others, sincerity and earnestness in one’s interactions, and perhaps several months of kindness before the title “friend” could be conferred upon another. Online social networking offers an instantaneous, digital, text-based solution to problem of friendship: redefinition and demarcation. Friends can be added through mutual interests, close proximity of location, or other friends. One could easily add or unfriend everyone from his or her high school. For instance, take Paul, the bassist from my last band, and friend-of-a-friend. Is Paul my friend, or isn’t he? It’s easy to tell: about four months ago he unfriended me.

This might have offended me, but I have 614 other friends. I can easily compare my prestige and popularity to other people on my friends list by contrasting the number of friends I have to the number of friends they have. Facebook’s statistics page says that the average person has 130 friends. Boy, am I glad I’m not that guy. However, embarrassingly, my wife has a significantly greater number than me: 943.

One might think that Facebook enhances friendships, relationships, and acquaintances. I would go one step further. Facebook replaces them with something even better: simple, streamlined friendship units. We are all now units on an interacting yet efficient grid. According to Facebook’s statistics page, the average unit spends almost an hour a day on Facebook. In this time, units read information on their friends’ walls, look through their activities, interests, and pictures, play games, join groups with others that have similar interests, and post links to other web pages. Units often check their Facebook pages several times during the day, and Facebook is now even offered on iPhones and other hand-held wireless devices, giving units the ability to check their Facebook pages everywhere they go, all day long, whether they are at church, class, or a friend’s wedding. There are more than 100 million mobile Facebook units, and according to Facebook Factsheet, they are statistically 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile units. Perhaps one day, all people will carry Facebook with them, thus inextricably bonding us with our new virtual identities.

It should be plain now how Facebook transcended its cruel and dehumanizing beginnings in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room, and grew to be the most popular online social networking service. Elder Bednar is simply blind to the New Truth: Facebook is defining us, shaping us, and reducing us. May our now archaic system of human-to-human non-electronic social interactions stay where it belongs: the Stone Age.

Comments 51

  1. Elder Bednar is simply blind to the New Truth: Facebook is defining us, shaping us, and reducing us. May our now archaic system of human-to-human non-electronic social interactions stay where it belongs: the Stone Age.

    Um, er, personally I prefer those human to human non electronic social interactions over facebook interactions ANY day of the week. And I would be cautious with how casually you charge that Elder Bednar is “blind.”

  2. #1–And I would be cautious with how casually you charge that Elder Bednar is “blind.”

    Arthur is talking about how he thinks Bednar got this one wrong. GAs individually get things wrong all the time. Maybe this is one of them, maybe not. Me, I’m glad the internet exists so people, like Arthur, can express what’s really inside, not Sunday School drivel.

    I was watching the smile on my wife’s (57) face as she was re-connecting on Facebook with old friend she had lost track of a long time ago. Anything taken to excess has its negative affects, including protecting those from criticism who deserve it, but these internet connections can certainly add to our lives.

  3. Satire, obviously. And any reasonably mature person will recognize FB for what it is: a tool for making and maintaining personal connections, no more. A facilitator but certainly not a replacement for all the more substantive human interaction Arthur and Elder Bednar mention.

  4. Arthur-
    Nice job Arthur! My only complaint about Facebook is that it doesn’t go far enough! Seriously, why do I have to spend so much time conversing with God on my knees? Wouldn’t it be so much more efficient to just push a button to “poke” God and see if he has anything noteworthy for me?

    I think the church ought to put together it’s own version of Facebook in a religious context. You wanna pray, just give God a poke. You wanna get a TR, just submit your correct answers to church headquarters and they’ll email you back your TR. Sheesh, forget going to church altogether and just have church for the whole world online via Internet. I’m all about ways to become more efficient! Mormonism 2.0!

  5. I happen to agree with Elder Bednars’ position. Personally I fall to see how people can have over 200 + close friends. I think Elder Bednar was trying to make the point that one needs to have a more clear definition of what constitutes friendship vrs. what constitutes an acquaintance.

  6. I think it’s a little harsh to call someone “blind” for not understanding Facebook. Many older people fit in that group (my Grandpa happens to be on Facebook, but he’s not very active on it). The Bishop of my student ward, normally a “with-it” kind of guy, thought Facebook was a giant waste of time (which it certainly can be).

    I think it’s great for keeping in touch with distant relatives and old friends, the kinds with whom you’d otherwise have absolutely no contact. Some people tell me, “If I really cared about staying in touch, I’d just call them or something.” But that’s not true. I feel like I can better maintain distant friendships through Facebook.

    It’s a tool. Use it for good or use it for evil.

  7. I agree with Vin.

    Facebook, like life, isn’t black or white; there is room for some grayness. People often tend to characterize the whole in terms that may only apply to a part. Using the word “blind” to characterize Elder Bednar is sensationalistic, evokes an emotional response, and drives dialog; which, I presume, is the point of this post.

    In his own way, Elder Bednar may be trying to invoke a somewhat sensationalistic, emotional response in order to drive dialog, thought, and ultimately behavior. It is Elder Bednar’s duty to warn of impending danger. Social media sites, like facebook, can be a huge drag on valuable (i.e. righteous?) individual development, a serious danger to those inclined to be sucked in too deeply.

    I don’t get the sense that he is saying, in absolute terms, that social networking sites, like facebook, are inherently evil. Rather, he is erecting a warning sign that says the ground is a little murky in this area; avoid it if you can but, at a minimum, tread with great care.

    Use wisdom and prudence, my friends!

    Kindest Regards,

  8. All I know is that we live in Colorado, and over the past couple of months my wife has reconnected with friends in Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Germany and Japan through Facebook. In the Luddite days, those reconnections may have been made through regular mail, but that isn’t really very likely. Where our lives were once rich with memories of those old friends, they are new richer because we have renewed our friendship with them.

  9. I can’t wait until the full-time missionaries get to use area-specific FB accounts. Then once a quarter or so I can suggest all my friends become friends with the Elders, and I’m done with missionary work for three months! Now please excuse me so I can go poke my home teaching families.

  10. I love the satire – very well done.

    I do think there are many aspects of Facebook (and everything else) that reduce personal interaction as you so nicely pointed out. At the same time, it is what it is. The genie is never going back in the bottle. It is absolutely going to change how people related to each other, but this is nothing new. Things changed when there was a reliable postal service. Things changed when automobiles became widespread. Things changed when telephones came about. Things changed more when everyone has a cell phone and are instantly available. Things changed with email. Life is different.

    I do agree that we need to be careful re: affairs, etc. with many of these social networking sites, but at the same time, people have had affairs for thousands of years – it’s just changing the context.

    And there is good from many of these technologies. I have reconnected with people from my mission 20+ years ago across the Atlantic. I would text all my YM before each activity rather than spend 30 minutes calling each of them. We coordinated an entire youth conference for 80+ people with a single 20 minute meeting and multiple emails/texts. And sites like this allow me to discuss and be open about things that there is NO WAY I would feel comfortable doing in an “official” church setting. So there is good and bad.

    And my own personal opinion is that this day was foreseen. If you were a prophet many, many years ago, you might describe us as having pieces of glass that we could look in and see all knowledge, or maybe our own personal Urim and Thummin. How else would someone from long ago describe an iPhone?

  11. I have to admit that after hearing Bednar speak in the Prop 8 broadcast a year and a half ago, I have a hard time taking what he says seriously. “It is not just wild and crazy to suggest that there could be sanctions against the teaching of our
    doctrine.” Yes, it was wild and crazy to suggest it. It was untrue fear-tactics at its worst.

    The pickle principle didn’t help either.

  12. I look forward to Bednar’s talks. Even the one we had over our Stake Conference broadcast was enjoyable. The pickle one wasn’t my favorite, but I know others really found it to their liking. I think his words last year were wise. I just read about an LDS man who was fleeing from the state where he was alleged to have committed murder and used his relationship with an online game partner to secure a place to stay while America’s Most Wanted was broadcasting his description.

    My wife’s brother set up a facebook account for my wife so she could log in and see pictures of relatives. Some guy that was a childhood crush of my wife’s sister sent messages through facebook to my wife that were forwarded into text messages calling her sweetheart and suggesting they meet up. She was revolted and asked her brother to block him.

    It is what it is.

    As a doctor, I’m not too interested in having hundred’s of “friends” who can send me messages online. It becomes another avenue for my work to follow me home. I have a doctor friend who is expected to correspond to her patients by the clinic email account. So, she already has 2000 “friends” who can email her anytime they want and anticipate that she will reply. She doesn’t have energy left for facebook.

  13. Elder Bednar was referring to a guy named Hoogestraat who was so involved in his alternate life in Second Life that he was ignoring his real wife and living a bizarre digital fancy. Too many of us waste too much precious time online and playing computer games. I think Bednar’s ideas are a very real, timely, and inspired warning to us all to keep our priorities on the things that matter most.

  14. Anyone who heard or read Bednar’s talk and came away with “Social Media/Facebook is evil” has serious reading comprehension problems. To quote Bednar directly:

    “Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and to brighten lives and to build the church. Of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.”

    Pretty clear. These types of articles on Mormon Matters make me sad because they try to create an issue for something someone essentially just made up because they didn’t bother to read what was said.

  15. Arthur – your stock is rising. I see you now have 620 friends. But you are still about 1000 behind your uncle. Having said that, from the book I recently read Connected: The Power of Social Networks, human networks (regardless of geography) max out at about 150. So you have 150 people who are truly friends (they might let you crash on their couch and would probably know more than the most cursory details about you) and 380 acquaintances who more or less wish you well, but might not show up at your funeral unless it was really convenient.

    Your point about FB being a country is spot on. Basically, FB replaces something that was largely lost as a result of the industrial revolution: rural villages where everyone knew each other as the norm for social networks.

    A few thoughts on Bednar’s talk: 1) I took it as a bigger warning for those who were getting caught up in virtual realities and doing things on line that were spiritual damaging (e.g. creating elaborate virtual lives with a different spouse or personality), not connecting with old friends, 2) old folks have always rattled their canes over new technology, be it FB or the invention of the telephone, the argument is always the same. We forget Bednar is an older dude because of his deceptively boyish appearance.

    And yet, I did not feel that anything he said in the talk was an indictment of the useful purposes of social media – just its excesses and the loss of the ability to connect in deeper ways. If our human interactions are ALL as superficial as “excited to break out the flip flops today. LOL!” then we are missing out. Having said that, FB is a huge net positive IMO. There are many people I actually have maintained contact with due solely to FB connections. Every medium has its benefit.

  16. “Should we really be over-stimulating our young people?”

    Should we really be under-stimulating them?
    I do hope this is satire as well.

  17. Dang it – I hate doing two comments in a row, but I also wanted to say that whoever edited E. Bednar’s original talk for the Universe article you linked to really missed the tone of his talk. By cutting out the examples of excesses (which were in fact super excessive), it implied E. Bednar was calling normal behavior excessive.

  18. Isn’t it somewhat funny that we’re here in a virtual “chat room” talking about the pros/cons of a “virtual” friendship circle?

  19. #16 sandr–

    Thanks for bringing balance to this discussion. I haven’t read Elder Bednar’s remarks so I can’t say much, but what you added makes me wonder what Arthur’s point is.

  20. Hey Jared and sandr, clue train: Aurthur’s point is that he agrees with Elder Bednar. It’s satire. I need to stop reading these comments because my forehead is getting sore.

  21. At first I thought it was serious, but once I got to the part about dealing with conflict I knew it was satire… I know of no one that would advocate writing a rabid email at 3am in the morning to … well, anyone.

    I think everything in moderation… moderation is key.

  22. Elder bednar isn’t blind for failing to understand facebook. He’s blind for failing to understand, and probably failing to even try to understand, an entire generation of people. Give me a break. Bednar’s grandparents undoubtedly said the same thing about the telephone. How about a modicum of perspective and emotional maturity? Facebook is neither good nor bad. It’s just another tool for people to manage their lives. Some people use it with reason and prudence and others use it recklessly. At what point are church leaders going to begin considering the concerns of the youth addressing them seriously, as opposed to kneejerk tongue clicking and condemnation of everything unique to their generation? Again I would argue that Bednar needs to grow up.

  23. In an effort to disprove an Apostle of the Lord, you have totally proved his point. Elder Bednar is right on the mark on this issue; and, I believe is speaking as an Apostle not a man.

  24. #25 – brjones, it might help to read what Elder Bednar actually said. Arthur is too intelligent for this to be a serious post. This post has to be satire, since it is so obviously not what Elder Bednar said.

    You know how rarely I criticize in the way I am about to do so, but writing something with no idea of what someone actually said is never a good idea.

  25. I think the first two lines says it all. Some of you have been “had.” But this actually does warrant a serious discussion.

  26. I think its funny the people who post here agreeing with the stance that online interaction is a slippery slope and that they prefer non-electronic interaction. First of all, you spend your time on a forum to speak about your religion, which for many people here, this is the place where you probably speak more openly and more in depth about what you feel and believe than you ever would with people and “friends” at church. How many friends can you honestly keep in touch with face to face? I would say around 20 at most!

    Second, without online interactions we would have a very big world where we would only be aware of a very small part of it, and our points of view would have very little perspective and therefore very little validity.

    Plus I think the church wants people to shy away from anything that might promote being a little more open-minded.

  27. #31,

    “Plus I think the church wants people to shy away from anything that might promote being a little more open-minded.”

    Boy, you are right. Next thing you know, church members will demand to drink and smoke. 🙂

  28. #31–“I think the church wants people to shy away from anything that might promote being a little more open-minded”

    It might be overstated, but the church certainly does not promote what I would call open discussions. “Not all truth is good truth”..etc. etc. etc.

    BTW, it is really good to see “Ray” posts even if they are only three words.

  29. Hmm, I went on a trip to Canada and forgot I had written and scheduled this post.

    If there are any lingering concerns, the piece is indeed satirical. If there’s one goal in my life, it’s to be the guy who nobody knows if he’s serious or not.

    Bednar was right on the money, and I do feel that the “genie is out of the bottle” and I’m not sure if life will ever be the way it was before. I just hope we don’t lose sight of what’s really important.

  30. #17. Yes, I completely agree with you. For the most part, social networking really does enhance friendships. I think Elder Bednar treated it in a very fair way. But I know personally people who have taken their online personas way too far, in the same way that Elder Bednar warns about. Others have had to deactivate their accounts to get away from them. It will be a unique challenge for our generation.

    I don’t feel that Elder Bednar is out of touch. I am glad that someone in a position of authority speaks up on these matters, and I do sustain him as an Apostle of the Lord.

  31. Elder Bednar invokes Jacob to state that this matter has been “weighing on his soul”. Is he concerned that there will soon be an epidemic of virtual “infidelity” (pun intended)? What irks me about his remarks is the explanation of Satans strategy. It seems that anytime one of the brethren wants to criticize a social trend they will employ the imagery of spiritually burdened mind, and then provide unsupported and baseless insights into Satans strategies. “You know, if Satan can’t get you to break the law of Chastity, his second favorite distraction is to get you…(fill in the blank; eat too much ice cream, talk on cell phones, watch too many movies, spend too much time in your car, play too much basketball, become to intellectual, excessive shopping, get another earing, buy foreign goods, over-sleep, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc). Sounds to me like Satan either has really low expectations, or Elder Bednar was shooting from the hip and just needed a little for oomph to get his point across.

  32. I dunno, Cowboy, as a parent what really struck me in Bednar’s talk (aside from the disturbing Sim-City style affairs), was the M-rated explicit video games that many of the YM are into that involve creating an online persona or playing with others online. For example, one of the versions of Call of Duty involves being able to participate in brutally killing civilians. In his original talk he warned against using fantasy personas to break the commandments. I have a hard time seeing the value in slaughtering civilians even under a fake persona. This is a very real thing – I know lots of kids in the church who are into these games, and their parents just figure “it’s only a game” or they don’t even know the content of the games their kids are playing. While I believe most kids understand the difference between a game and reality, I still don’t think that’s something that is edifying.

  33. You know Hawkgrrrl, I wouldn’t disagree with your argument. It seems like there is a double standard for video games. I’m aware of one where the game character can beat up prostitutes for money, a notion of entertainment that isn’t just slightly disconcerting. When I was in school the big media vice reaching the kids my age was gangster rap music, which of course was very explicit and advocated more or less the same kind of behavior. So in short, if Elder Bednars talk was intended to stress that moral standards should apply just the same in the digital world, then I would agree. But, in addition to the low quality stuff that would simulate terrorism, you also video games that simulate football – Occassionally I still find myself participating in this one. According to Elder Bednar, the individual who spends their time playing football video games, is somehow being neglectful of their spouse. Now I can certainly see how in excess that such could be the case, but when done within reason there is no reason this should be an issue. I have never missed a day of work, or failed to complete a homework assignment, etc, because of playing video game football. Coincidentally, the same friends I play football with on the video game machine, are the same ones I play football with in real life. The time commitment away from my wife however is substantially greater when I play on the field vs the television set. In other words, this could be wittled down to maxim of moderation that already believe. Yet, I don’t believe that is really what Elder Bednar was getting at, and to prove his case he appeals to a WSJ anecdote about an individual who has taken his “virtual life” to the extreme. It reminds of the discussion not too long ago where President Kimball suggested that masturbation leads to homosexuality. He took an extreme example to criminalize the norm. Interestingly enough, another case where Satan is employed as matter of factly in his “alternative” methods to what is generally expected. Does Satan have a playbook that these guys are reading from?

  34. Cowboy, he stressed obsession and over-kill (pardon the pun) – of losing one’s real self within fantasies. He didn’t say participating in online activities is being neglectful. He said neglecting others in your real life by spending too much time online is neglectful.

    I’ve been there a couple of years ago here in the Bloggernacle. He’s right. I had to decrease my time online in order to spend more time with my wife and kids.

  35. Ray:

    I suppose we have to infer a little about this talk in order to draw conclusions. I’ll be the first to admit that this lends to imperfect conclusions, but given that we all have to do it, I guess it’s somewhat fair. I understand how you draw your conclusion, I would even agree that it is a reasonable take on Elder Bednars comments. From where I stand however, there was quite a bit implied in his comments. On one hand he credits what he calls “fidelity” when it can be used by an architect to design a temple, or by aircraft operators in flight simulation. When it is performing serious work, it is good thing, and of course I would agree. When it comes to entertainment and leizure, he makes no such concessions however, and that comes across as being more generational than spiritual or practical. I wonder, would Elder Bednar be so critical of sports enthusiasts who spend so much time invested in sports that takes away from the family. What “bookworms”? Would he see their behavior as an imposition on their spouse? And if so, why don’t those issues also weigh so heavily on the mind, as the dews from heaven, so as to get the attention of a public address? And I guess that’s what really gets me about the talk. It comes across as a personal objection based on a generation gap, yet he packaged it in scriptural metaphor so as to give the impression, “God has told me today, to tell you to quit playing video games, or participating of facebook, etc.” As we all know the Prophets, historically speaking, have had somewhat of penchant for doing that, have they not?

  36. As I read Bedner’s talk I thought it was clear and balanced, technology is good but if we abuse it by spending too much time developing inappropriate relationships or it becomes our primary sources of emotional interaction, Bad.

    However in general priesthood the balance was sadly lost an the speaker interpreted Bedners talk as unless productive tech bad, it was a shame because the youth were there and the leadership are at risk of alienating them (fortunately the youth never really listen 🙂 )

  37. Why are so many people commenting on a talk they have CLEARLY not read?! To quote Elder Bednar: “I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad, it is not,” he said. “Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and to brighten lives and to build the church. Of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.”

  38. Mark –

    I read the talk about a week ago before I began my criticism. In Elder Bednars world the only appropriate purpose of technology is to perform work. ie, if it is used to do something the Church needs, then good. On the other hand, engaging in “contrived” relationships, such as those found by conversing with personalities on a blog I suppose (though I’m not sure we can call the “contrived” just because it isn’t face to face. We’re all real people, right?), is a way that SATAN uses technology to “trick” us into forsaking our bodies/”reality”.

  39. “Making friends required gaining the trust of others, sincerity and earnestness in one’s interactions, and perhaps several months of kindness before the title “friend” could be conferred upon another.”
    This is still true! Even with facebook, just because someone is your friend online doesn’t make them a friend in real life! Facebook friends are 80% fake! Most people don’t talk to 3/4 of their so called “friends”

  40. People used to have to make friends with people that they would never otherwise associate with. It was called a neighborhood. You don’t get to pick your neighbors, but you forged a bond with them to smooth social interaction. You become strengthened. You also meet people that bring a richness to your life that you would totally overlook if you were cherry-picking your friends. Avoiding complex interactions is cowardly and unprofitable to our health as emotional human beings.

    Using Facebook to put yourself into even more of a bubble is wrong. A friend is a person you have a bond with. You can’t forge a bond unless you’ve worked out a relationship with them through real human interaction. Frankly any other way is not “real human interaction.” Facebook like media should only be used to facilitate greater in-person interaction.

  41. I think you missed the point of the talk. Even the Church has it’s own facebook page. What he feared is the over use of, addiction too, or the replacement of real life activities with, virtual socialization. 

  42. This is one of those… confusing doctrines of the church. There are a lot of set in stone doctrines, what you shall and shall not do etc. This is one of those… use your best judgment ones. If you notice Elder Bednar was never very very specific at all. He used very vague terms, but at the same time was very stern and strict. Almost feeling like all electronic use is bad. This is one of those things that is left up to our own interpretation.
    I personally love facebook, and am super annoyed with it. It was a factor in why I stopped dating this one girl. She would constantly be on facebook and various social sites even as I was with her trying to have a meaningful conversation. She even chose that activity over studying her scriptures. This is the extreme that Elder Bednar was referring to. I use facebook, but very lightly, in a way I feel appropriate. It’s all down to what the spirit dictates really.

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