I joined Facebook in 2008 and immediately enjoyed re-connecting with friends I’d lost track of over the years. Had to learn some etiquette and boundaries from my teenagers, but it quickly become a valuable connecting tool for me in ministry and personal life. Almost everyone I know is on FB.
So why did I break up with Facebook recently? Three reasons.
1. This election. Elizabeth and I studied Spanish in Costa Rica for eight months in 2016. Cramming a new language into a ‘mature’ brain meant I was toast mentally by about 5pm. FB was a way to relax and connect back in the US.
Until we all (myself included) started getting testy, rude and/or disagreeable, saying things we would not say if the person(s) were in the room. Over politics.
Tobias Rose-Stockwell’s post How We Broke Democracy is worth a read. It makes a case against (me) using FB. He says the way we use our technology, particularly Facebook, ‘has changed this election and is now undermining our ability to empathize.’ The powerful FB algorithm has created what my friend Danny Slavich calls our own ‘personally curated social media echo chambers’ where I had actually cut myself off from people while reinforcing my own sinful opinions and pride.
2. Neighboring 101. We chose to live in a part of Atlanta where we are a minority because we wanted to be part of the solution to racism. But I lost my way along the virtual trail. I forgot who my neighbors are and that God’s great command says clearly…
Love the Lord your God… and your neighbors as yourself.
Which leads to some hard questions!
- Can I really love God without loving neighbors as myself?
- Am I loving myself as God loves if I’m not loving my neighbors?
- Are FB friends or people in my physical community my neighbors?
- Do neighbors tweet, post or talk? Which is more helpful and kind?
- What if I treated my neighbors like people are treated on FB? ummm
The most basic teachings of the Christian faith have so much to say to our current situation. Scripture says far more about loving actual neighbors than it does about political involvement.
3. Need more joy in life. This rarely-quoted verse in the Bible startled me when Pastor Héctor read it last Sunday. “…I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink (keyboard and screen?). Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our j o y may be c o m p l e t e.‘ (2 John 13).
My mother taught me that ‘joy is being glad to be with someone’ and if there is anything I need or want more of now, it is joy in the midst of division, sadness and anger. I need to be together, talking face-to-face MORE not less.
So, see you later Facebook. It was nice for a while.
(Note: I’m not closing my account. Yet. Nor am I advocating that you close your account. Rather, I’m using it like email or snail mail for messages. And I’m keeping up with this blog and Twitter. FB has a redemptive purpose in that I can communicate with many people who are indeed real-life friends and family. For that I am grateful.)