I can't say exactly when it happened or at what post it happened, but it definitely happened. I no longer wanted to read or post anything to Facebook! Maybe it was a slow and steady buildup. Like when you get diagnosed with a cavity. You don't know exactly when you got it, but you aren't really surprised because you know what you eat.
The whole idea of logging-in all of the sudden seems to have more negatives than positives. In the beginning you feel good about something and you want to share it, but now you want to log on to feel good about something. Therein lies the problem. What you may be looking for to make you feel good may not even be true at all! At best, someone's post is stretch of the truth. While at worst, it's a total fabrication. On average, I've found that the truth is usually somewhere in between.
With over a billion users and more posts per day, I'm not writing this to compete with or destroy Facebook. Instead, I'm thinking about that person who is starting to wonder like me about the whole Facebook phenomena but may be worried that they are the only one. If that's you, keep calm - nobody's life is as good as it looks on Facebook. I know this is true because it's true for me. Not to sound absolutist, but what I think matters, because at the heart of who drives Facebook are people just like me. The tool is an extension of a vast mass. So as a member of that mass, I reflect the common man in a technology designed to connect just that - the common person.
For example, the workout posts. The friends and folks posting workout pictures usually show their pics before or after the workout. Just like my wife just "loves" to hug me after 55 minutes of plyo-cardio, I'm just as excited to see how you look after 3 rounds of kickboxing...nooo! It's not just the sweat factor, but you miss the very essence of fitness and what created that sweat - the workout! The steps and not the selfie. True health, whole health, is a lifestyle. It's not a point, but a process! By not highlighting the entire experience that gets you there, you only really serve to pseudo-educate on health with the focus becoming the adulation of your body or the eventual loathing of the fact that as I see you crushing it, I realize how pathetic I am and I need to get up and do something! Remember, losing weight is not necessarily health! In fact, most health involves what you can't see. Since most people are willing to live with the person in the mirror, constant workout posts don't inspire as much as they ultimately conspire a surface appreciation for the idea of exercise, but not truly being healthy and whole (to be one with God, our Creator, mind, soul, and BODY).
A post never tells the whole story! In a Facebook feud, only one side of the story is told. In a post where congrats are in order (a new job, baby birth, or anniversary, etc.), that's only one part of life. Grant it, good news is good news, but that's not the stuff of real friendships. If I only know the good in you and none of the bad, than I really don't know you. So I can only "like" what you post, but it's nearly impossible for me to love who you are - because I don't know all of you! For example, I've seen folks on Facebook constantly posting the good news of their travels, financial blessings, something or someone new in their life. But these same people have been through divorces, layoffs, breakups, firings, illnesses, accidents, fall-outs, bailouts, depressions, failures, unplanned pregnancies, and drama with a capital D. God loves us and can work through all of this (Romans 8:28) but I very rarely see or hear those posts! And in the rare case it is posted, the effect is more like highway rubbernecking than really caring. "Wow, I'm glad that ain't me. (scroll...)" or "Ughhh, they get on my nerves (jealous scroll)...." There's a misfire because we aren't designed to connect through posts, we are made to connect to people personally - words, tears, frustrations, loud-talking, hugs, tickles, smiles, frowns, yawns, and all. The Facebook face is not real life! It's like eating sugar all day, every day. If that was God's intention, He wouldn't have given us a tongue that also tastes bitter, sour, salty, and umami (yes, the newest taste that covers all the tastes that don't fit the other categories. For example, savory stuff. Yummm). But the processed timeline of life highlights lacks the organic realities of life, making it a dish low on substance and nutrients, but high in saccharine appearances and fatty illusions.
Super-users of Facebook may argue that FB is a great way to "stay in touch". But are we really "in touch"? Again, if all I see from you is good, how can I touch the real you? We may get close to seeing the struggles of others in the "pray for me" or "need prayers now" post. But shouldn't friends pray for one another always? Prayer is not a fire extinguisher, it's an oxygen mask at the heart of a growing relationship with Christ and it's our privilege to put folks before the Lord constantly. Be careful that your intercession is not just based on getting out of jams; but rather, keeping us on the road!
Before you say I'm just being the grumpy-get-off-my-lawn-guy, please note that I have a Facebook account. But the reason I continue to use my Facebook account is not because of what it is; rather, it's because I know what Facebook is not. I know I don't want to know what you had for lunch today. When I was in college and had roommates, not once in five years (yes, I was a super senior), if we didn't eat at the same time, did I ask my friends what they had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Why? Because either I didn't care, it was none of my business, or both! So what makes us think that now that we are 1,500 miles apart from friends who are married, with children, and a job(s), that we need to know what you are eating at this very moment? Why?
What about Facebook love? I tread softly because love in every relationship is indeed to be cherished. It's a dying commodity in a cold world. So praise God for real love wherever it is found! But an all too forgotten aspect of love is intimacy. Is it possible that the sweetness of your kiss pic is lost when it's splattered on over 500 digital pages of people whose last name you don't even know? Remember when to kiss & tell wasn't cool?! Yes, we are all glad you love your wife, your husband, your child, your grandchildren, your sweetheart, etc. But at the end of the day, THEY are the ones that need to know that! That's called intimacy. Others can know, but the loved ones need to know. Maybe this is where Jesus was headed when He taught on prayer and said, "enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6). Closing the door encourages focus and creates intimacy. The seeing is in secret (intimacy), and the reward is openly (testimony). We see the love in your life, not your posts. Because while they are precious words, they are still, just words.
I know Facebook is not the stuff of friendships. It's digital voyeurism of the highest order because you have to choose to be ogled. In other words, all participants on FB are willing so you lose the specter (and shame) of prying. We all chose to be friended - but why? Are we really friends or co-dependents? One thriving off of the rush of likes, views, and friend requests? Or the other thriving off of the rush of new content and giving likes, views, and friend requests? At least there is some symbioses there; some give and take. But if that's the extent of it, then the relationship is actually a cycle driven by narcissism. Is it the drive to be heard, recognized, adored, or even...worshiped (also known as liked and followed)? Or, the lack of being heard, recognized, adored, or worshiped? It's a frailty of human nature, but it becomes an emotionally lethal force when it's the centerpiece of any relationship. It's inevitable for people to get hurt and abused, or broken and bullied, because when the screen dims and real life begins, only love can fill the void.
Love doesn't like or dislike - it loves (thumbs up or down). Love doesn't just comment, it commits. Love is not in the before and after picture, love invests in the person in the picture. Love doesn't log off, it lives on - because it's source and originator, Jesus Christ, is not interested in our profiles while He sees us from the inside out! I know what Facebook is and isn't. It's a phenomenal tool to share information (much like the internet at large) and it's power should absolutely be harnessed to share the ultimate news - the Good News of salvation through faith in the love of Jesus Christ! But FB is a poor, poor medium for a real relationship. Thank God I'm old enough to have friends that were friends before Facebook came along. And for those friends that I have found after the advent of the blue F, we aren't bound by Facebook posts. So whether we talk three times a week or once every few years, we connect because love connects. It's not about what I can get in the moment, but it's about what we have and still want to give to keep it.
And now for some totally unsolicited Facebook advice...
I'm glad Jesus doesn't have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or email address. We can just THINK about Him in prayer and He's there before the thought is finished (Hebrews 4:16). Don't wait to look up from the screen and realize that the best relationships are in front of your face and outside the very door of your heart.
God has something to say to us (more than we want to hear it)! That's why there is always a WORD!