October 20, 2008

The Facebook Phenomenon

Whose face do I seek?

I joined Facebook this month. Finally.

Purely practical reasons, I assured myself. How else does one keep in touch with the upcoming generation? How does a mom get a son to drop her library card in the mail and return it? He doesn’t check his regular e-mail anymore. That’s obsolete. Facebook is the place to be. Your personal “Inbox” the place that’s “in”…So, I joined. Yes, purely practical reasons… maybe.

And suddenly there was a whole new world of possible reasons. Friends! Faces smiling at me, hanging on my every word. “What am I doing right now?” Well, no one cared or noticed until now. And if I can just drum up enough connections, enough friends of friends of relatives of friends, why I can be practically a celebrity. The whole world will know what I’m doing at any given moment! Talk about significance. Wow. And with all these faces caring about my life how can I ever want for love and affection again?

Besides all that, there’s just the sense that things are happening and you’re in the ‘know’ now. Never a dull minute to face again. Now there’s Facebook with the life and times of everybody you could want to know about (and others besides just case things get slow…)

And suddenly I found myself drawn into the vortex of Facebook. But there was a trouble. I didn’t have many friends on my account that first day, so life started to feel just a bit dull. I felt just a little neglected, gypped, overlooked…Kept checking for messages, for invitations, for other people’s news, for something to be happening! Then that sinking feeling that maybe it was all my fault that my ‘wall’ wasn’t very exciting… teenage insecurities began to surface. Maybe the Facebook world was not much different than highschool growing up. There are popular ones with good looking faces, attention grabbing profiles and always something clever to say. And there are the rest. Sigh. Not a happy thought.

Funny thing is, before I signed in I was sitting in my happy home surrounded by my wonderful family, perfectly content, thankful even and significant enough as Mom and chief cook. It was in fact Thanksgiving day. The turkey was in the oven. The woodstove was keeping me toasty warm. All was well. Well, it was well…before I’d discovered this happy new world of Face-looking. Now I had this nagging restlessness that somewhere someone must want to know what I’m doing… or maybe someone else is doing something that I should know about. Maybe what I needed was more friends on my homepage. More grafitti on my ‘wall’. Let’s see, who could I search for? Who could I invite to be my friend? Never mind that my ever present family was all around me. Never mind that up till now that had been enough, with maybe an occasional e-mail from my sis or a long-distance friend for a highlight to the calm rhythm of my days… Somehow this Facebook phenomenon had gained access to my soul. A compulsive need to be noticed, appreciated, heard and befriended had installed itself. What was to be done?

I suppose I could have signed out then and there and turned a hard heart to any invitations to be a Face on anyone’s wall… But I still don’t have my library card back and besides, I love that new daughter-in-law that posts her life’s big events in the Face Book. Her beaming smile pulling her first loaves of bread from the oven…her affectionate notes to my Inbox… how could I miss these things?

So I sat myself down, shut down the computer and redirected my thoughts to God’s Face. What if He were on Facebook? What would He be there for? What are His thoughts towards me, His desires, His designs? I thought of Paul’s words in Titus referring to ‘younger women’ (Do I still qualify?). They are to be “busy at home”. Ah, now that has whole new possibilities. Now I can be a busy-body without even leaving my house!! But I don’t think that’s exactly what God had in mind. There’s also something there about being self-controlled and loving one’s kids and husband. Not sure I can do this really well if I get lost in another world looking for friendly faces. Ah yes, self-control.

But perhaps I’m not a younger woman any more. After all I’m ___. Let’s see, what are the instructions for ‘older women’ --be reverent, not slanderers and not addicted to [Facebook], ooops, I mean wine. Hmm. And my life is to be about modeling good things for the generation following. Hmm again. I’m starting to see a new track emerging, a new reason for being a Facebooker, a calling that’s not about me and mine and what you think of me and mine…

But what about me and mine? What about my craving for attention, affection, and approval?!…. if it’s not going to happen on Facebook. Then where? I sat by the woodstove journaling and leafing through my Bible looking at verses on God’s approval. A good question jumped off the page at me: “Am I trying to win the approval of men? or God—I am a servant of Christ.” And a new perspective: “It’s not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. Boast in Him!” Paul had it right: “We are not trying to please men, but God who tests our hearts… never flattering or masking our greed—we look for praise from God alone.” OK so it’s God’s approval I’m after and His calling I’m about… things like: “Do what leads to mutual edification”.
Don’t conform to the world’s pattern. Renew your mind then you’ll experience God’s good, pleasing and perfect will…and an invitation to fulfill my calling, to use my gifts.

Ahh. Perspective regained. I gave my soul a brisk briefing. Here are your directives. Find your source of appreciation, of worth, of affirmation and praise in God. He is after all your biggest fan. He died for the likes of you! Listen for His “BRAVO”, ‘well done’. Sit and dine with Him. Write for Him. Walk with Him. Invite Him to Friend status. And trust Him for the words to sow and their prospering… Then you will be free to join in all the happy crowd of Faces without losing your bearings.

So… I think I’ll just take a peek at my wall and spend a few minutes seeing what’s up with friends far and near. And say, will you be my friend?

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face—now I know in part, then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”


Quotes and approximate quotes are from the following passages in the NIV:
Gal.1:10; 2 Cor.10:18; 1Thess. 2:4; Rom. 12:2ff; Ps.67:1; 2 Cor.3:18;
1 Cor.13:12


Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the book you will write someday.

Paula Starker said...

Wonderfully pondered... an in-depth meditation on this current cultural phenomena, my friend. A friend at church has a t-shirt that says, with the appearance of Facebook, font and all, "Faith Book" "...God has invited you to be His friend through Jesus Christ... through the Bible (not word for word, but the general idea). Do you you accept?" I've seen it for sale on Kerusso.com. Thanks for sharing this with me and more importantly, for seeking His highest in all things. Love you!

Joshua said...

My goodness.
I certainly didn't think that hard about facebook when I joined...

Anonymous said...

Now that. Is a Blog.