Saturday, March 5, 2016

i am not as fine as i seem

I'm scrolling down my screen and it's filled with names. These are my friends, I'm told. Facebook points out which name has shared this and which name has liked that, as if I'm expected to care. But the more often I see a name typed across the screen in dark blue, it seems, the more fake and far away it becomes. These are not friends. These are not even people to me anymore. They are just names, just symbols of my popularity; I wait on their likes and comments because I think maybe that means they care, but I know that's not what my own likes usually mean. So why should I expect it of them? This social media phenomenon, this invention that was meant to draw people closer together, has become no more than what its name implies - a book of faces. Faces that mean less every time I scroll past them. Faces that hide stories and struggles and real lives, faces that overshadow souls and sins and the image of God. Faces that are more like facades.

I have one too. A facade. My profile picture is always smiling so you wouldn't know that behind it is a heart breaking with loneliness. I post Bible verses and pretty pictures and all the while I want to scream, "I am not as fine as I seem!" But that does not seem safe when I am surrounded by people as fake as myself.

I think my dad got social media right all along. He calls it Farcebook. And that's petty much exactly what it is.

Friendships aren't created or maintained on Facebook. Ministry isn't sustainable on Facebook. Discipleship is impossible on Facebook. A tenuous connection, yes, maybe that can survive; but in truth, the more time I spend among my 200-something virtual "friends," the more terribly alone and empty I feel.

But maybe it's not all Facebook's fault. Maybe it's mine... maybe, over time, this would have happened regardless of my social media presence. Maybe (gasp!) I am by nature a sinner, a selfish human being who wants to appear whole and righteous and desirable to those around her even when the cost is destroying herself with loneliness. Facebook was made to make connecting with people easier, but I think what it has truly made easy is the ability to appear connected while keeping everyone at an arm's length. Responsibilities like accountability and relational investment - which are nonnegotiables of functioning as a biblical part of the Church - are removed when you are able to erect a charade of virtual spirituality. Post enough selfies at a coffeeshop with an open Bible - #blessed - and you can deceive yourself, along with the believing community around you, that you're a healthy and fruitbearing branch that doesn't need training or equipping or the asking of hard questions. Post enough Bible verses and holy-sounding thoughts, and I can maintain a comfortable bubble of space between myself and the probing spiritual edification of those around me, who might discover in the end that (what!) I'm not perfect after all.

But the reality is... if I'm honest, the kind of relationship that comes with probing spiritual edification (even, and especially, the kind that knows me for what I really am) is exactly what I most intensely crave.


  1. I think as humans we, by nature, try and maintain facades. Instead of fellowship, community,and meaningful relationships, we would rather keep our pride and vanity intact. Being vulnerable is scary and messy, but like you said, it's what we want more than anything.

    Thank you for sharing! i always appreciate your thoughts. By the way, I tagged you in my latest post on my blog for the "happy tag".

    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind



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