Some thoughts on the Spiritual Side of Social Media: I am NOT my Facebook status!

I found this cool thing on Facebook a month ago that combined all the keywords of status updates from the whole year into a neat little collage. It only took a minute looking at the artistic rendition of my year in updates to break out in laughter. Who is the guy who jacks my phone to post on Facebook? It made me wonder if God might have to open up a Facebook division to keep track of all the saintly people showing up there.

I wrote an entire chapter on communication in The Mockingbird Parablestitled “The Parable of the Last Word”. I really believe that one of the unique aspects of Harper Lee’s novel is how the “good guys” choose to communicate, even when they disagree. In the chapter, I also question how the digital revolution and the advent of more and more faceless exchange (less and less human contact) is really impacting the way we talk to each other.I am not anti-social media at all, but as you can read in this CBS report — Facebook can pose all sorts of “complications”:

Have you ever had Facebook Envy? You know that guy whose daily posts read like: “up at 5:30 with the personal trainer — great workout!”, “breakfast with the mayor, had to turn down a cabinet position!” — “Wow, call from school — kids have straight A’s” – “can’t wait to climb Mt. Everest AGAIN this weekend” — “nice day, think I’ll ride the Harley home” … You know those people whose life seems to be one giant happy event. It’s funny, but I wonder if it threatens our spiritual life.

As people of faith, honesty and transparency are always a challenge. Since the first interactions between God and human beings in the Biblical narrative, we have been working to conceal our true selves. A good measure of the conflict in the Bible centers around our quest to hide from the God, who according to the Psalmist, “knows the secrets of the heart.” It seems to me that we have finally found a tool in Facebook that can provide a digital sketch of our false self, and the scary part of seeing all my updates was realizing that Facebook Me is a much better person than I am – every day of the week.

I laughed looking through my status updates, because conspicuously missing were all the honest parts of my day that make me who I really am… Consider that no one really posts status updates about losing patience with a child, arguing with a sales clerk, gossiping about a friend, complaining about a church service, falling back into a bad habit, or lying about something insignificant. Yet these are all the things that identify us people in need of God’s grace. Our lack of honesty and transparency isn’t new, but maybe we need to be careful not to buy into our own “press clippings” — cautious to remember that we are not our status updates!

Maybe we need to post a declaration of independence every once in a while just to remind ourselves and each other of the truth: I AM NOT MY FACEBOOK STATUS!

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