There is some kind of love/hate relationship with Facebook. It draws us in. We can spend countless hours just scrolling and looking and stalking, I mean, exploring what our family, friends and even perfect strangers are up to. Then we feel guilty for wasting time. Or we get caught comparing our lives to other’s and we feel less than awesome, intelligent or good looking. Or we judge other’s lives as lame and leave with super human pride, only to realize we misspelled the most bsaic word we chose to use in our status update.
In a defiant reaction, have you ever given up Facebook? Or, have you ever at least said “Mayyybe I should give up Facebook?”
I know I have. Many times. I have pondered what a more authentic and real experience life would be. I’ve dreamt of how my relationships would suddenly deepen, and my time fill with meaningful connections with God, myself and others.
Then I had a baby.
The many hours alone (well, with a non-talking infant who only really sleeps and eats), got me thinking. Through Facebook, at any time of day or night, I can share what I am thinking and feeling with anyone in my life (minus my 86 year old aunt). I can write messages. I can share photos. And what I have come to really appreciate, and rely on, is that people write back, comment, and “like”.
I was thinking about how blessed I felt by Facebook.
Like from the hand of God, blessed.
Throughout the countless times during the first week of Ansley’s life when I had to get up and nurse in the middle of the night, I felt like I had my village around me. Cheering me on. Offering encouragement, funny stories, helpful advice. And sometimes just having company. Many of you may have seen that this has not been the easiest process for me, but in some supernatural way, God has leveraged Facebook for my good.
I guess my hope in writing this is twofold.
First, I hope we can use Facebook as Paul used the pen and paper to build up the church. He was not always present with his congregations. He was not always able to gather with them or speak face to face. He used his words. But they were on scrolls, read by messengers. Writing is not a terrible or less authentic form of communication. I hope we can warm up to Facebook and stop writing it off (pardon my pun). Rather than abandoning it make use of what is at your finger tips for encouraging one another and building each other up (1 Thes 5:11) and for confessing weakness, joining together in prayer, and generally loving each other well. It can be authentic, genuine and real if you allow it to be. Alastair insisted that I add “But it can never be a replacement for the local expression of church.” Fine! He’s right. But Facebook certainly is a helpful way to remain connected to the Church throughout the week, especially when circumstances prevent you from any other connection.
Second, use Facebook well. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop posting things specifically for you to look good or cool or whatever adjective you desire to insert here. Do not use this to harm others. This is real, your words carry weight, and I am pretty sure God is not closing his eyes when you are on Facebook. He sees all that you do. So “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” Allow God to purify you, even in your Facebook use.
Part of why I am writing this is because I hope that my online village can be filled with authentic written communication that is edifying and true and loving. I desire a village around me, in Vancouver and abroad. I hope that my family and friends and our communities across the world can point each other towards Christ in all things—even Facebook.
Maybe it would help if I started my status updates as such:
“Julia Sterne, called to be a follower of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the church of God on Facebook, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Maybe not. It might be over the top. But you get the idea.