Sara: Lately, I’ve noticed myself becoming dissatisfied with Facebook. While I believe it is a powerful communications tool, especially for organizations, I find myself being “sucked into” it and not necessarily liking the results. If I’m not careful, I find I’ve spent Gus’ entire naptime on Facebook instead of getting my housework done!
My generation seems to think a Facebook status or a “like” can change the world. We post articles attempting to convince others that our viewpoints on religion, politics, or how to care for our families are the correct ones. While the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, I have yet to hear of anyone who has changed their opinion on one of these hot topics because of an article posted on Facebook.
Instead of conversion, Facebook has a tendency to polarize people on each side of the issue and cause pointless arguing.
Recently, a Facebook acquaintance decided to “gently nudge” another Facebook friend to boycott a company because the company indirectly gave charitable donations to Planned Parenthood. Instead of talking to her friend directly, my acquaintance decided to post a Facebook status stating why this company was evil and why Christians should not support this company. Rather than being an opportunity for discussion, it became a public chastisement.
As I learned of the situation, I realized that a couple of years ago, I probably would have done the same thing. I thought a quick post would be more “charitable” than having the conversation face to face. In reality, I would have been posting to Facebook because I lacked the courage to have the conversation in person.
The “tough” conversations, like challenging others to grow in their faith, friendships, or professional life come best when one has already developed a friendship. I have to build credibility with others before they will take me seriously. For instance, a couple of months ago, I ran into the post office with Gus on an 80 degree day. It was a quick trip, so I didn’t put on Gus’ socks or shoes. As I was waiting in line, a lady chastised me for allowing Gus to go out in public without socks. While I’ll never forget the encounter, the major message I took away how rude she was, not why she believed it was so important for Gus to wear socks. If one of my friends from my mom’s group had suggested Gus wear socks, I probably would have changed my behavior.
The real issue with Facebook is that we haven’t built relationships or credibility with many of the people we call Facebook friends. We haven’t journeyed with them through the hard times. We haven’t cried together at the loss of a loved one or celebrated the birth of a child. Clicking the “like” button after they post a photo doesn’t really count as a celebration. We think because our status update got “likes” in the double digits that we’re changing the world. If I want to make a difference in the world, I need to think smaller. I need to be more targeted. Instead of focusing on my 659 Facebook friends, I need to focus on the people I encounter in person on a regular basis. How can I influence them and help them become better people?