Have you ever seen a bloodhound at work, tracking down a fugitive? Bloodhounds are absolutely remarkable creatures that are able to distinguish smells a thousand times more effectively than human beings. An article at PBS tells how they get on a trail and how they stay on it:
When a bloodhound sniffs a scent article (a piece of clothing or item touched only by the subject), air rushes through its nasal cavity and chemical vapors — or odors — lodge in the mucus and bombard the dog’s scent receptors. Chemical signals are then sent to the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that analyzes smells, and an “odor image” is created. For the dog, this image is far more detailed than a photograph is for a human. Using the odor image as a reference, the bloodhound is able to locate a subject’s trail, which is made up of a chemical cocktail of scents including breath, sweat vapor, and skin rafts. Once the bloodhound identifies the trail, it will not divert its attention despite being assailed by a multitude of other odors. Only when the dog finds the source of the scent or reaches the end of the trail will it relent. So potent is the drive to track, bloodhounds have been known to stick to a trail for more than 130 miles.
When a fugitive is on the run, he leaves behind a trail. This trail of breath and sweat and dropped skin cells is invisible to the human eye and undetectable to the human nose, but it contains all the information a bloodhound needs to stay on the trail, to distinguish that one scent from thousands of others.
One of the remarkable facts about life in this digital world is that we leave trails behind us wherever we go and whatever we do. I am writing today from Huntsville, Alabama; Rogers, my cell phone company, knows I am here. They know the route I took to get here—from my home to Toronto’s airport, a layover in Chicago, then my route from Huntsville’s airport to this home. It has all been recorded as my phone has checked in with a variety of cell phone towers. In the same way Google has a record of searches I’ve made today, and yesterday and the day before.
Facebook keeps track of the name of every person you’ve searched for, every status update, every comment on another person’s status, every photo you’ve liked, every friend you’ve made. Taking a look at this list makes for a helpful social media heart-check.
I’d encourage you to take just a few moments to do this heart-check. Here’s how to begin. Go to Facebook and then click on your name to see your profile:
Then click on “Activity Log.”
Then make sure this box is selected (click it so a checkmark appears):
Now you will see something like this:
Here is a list of just about everything you’ve done on Facebook. It will go on and on and on, showing all of your activity. Let me suggest a few questions you may want to ask yourself as you look at it.
Would you be comfortable having your husband or wife sitting beside you and seeing this activity log? How about your pastor or a good friend?
Look at the comments you’ve left and the status updates you’ve made. How do they stand up in the light of Ephesians 4:15 which tells us to “speak truth in love.” How do they stand up in light of James chapter 3 which warns us about the power of our words and the recklessness with which we use them? Or Colossians 4:6 which says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.”
Look at the names of the people you have searched for. This may be the scariest part of all! Why did you search for those people? Would you want those people to know that you were searching for them? Were you looking for helpful information or making a useful connection? Is it possible that you were looking for alluring photos or gossip? Would you want your husband or wife to know that you searched for these people?
Look at the number of updates you’ve made and consider the amount of time you’ve used Facebook. What does that tell you about how you use your time. Ephesians 5: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Parents may do well to spend time with their children going through this list and talking to them about their use of Facebook.
Social media gives us some very helpful opportunities and abilities, but it is also a powerful reflector of what is going on in the heart. Don’t run away from the opportunity to probe a little bit!
(Credit where credit is due: A somewhat distasteful article at Buzzfeed gave me the idea for this article)