The Problem with Facebook
It's 9:37pm and Jude is ready for bed: pj-clad, full of Jusje's yummy pumpkin bread and milk, bathed, read to, and sleepy. I pick him up—football style—and carry him into his crib. He knows whats coming and he's screeches describe the deep displeasure he feels, on principle, with this nightly arrangement. We sing, pray, I kiss him, tell him that I love him "SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!" and then turn out the light. This is when the real and only true relaxing begins for me and Jusje. But we're already so exhausted from Little Village and a rather dull but tiring day of laundry and baking, that we kind of just pass out in bed, mutually palming an iphone on either side. This is when I actually read Facebook.
While I truly am interested in what my friends and family are doing throughout the day, the only real moment of cognitive respite comes at these late moments. Unfortunately, this is also the time when I feel most vulnerable to emotional bleakness. Here's the thing about Facebook: the majority of the time with the majority of people, Facebook is a trophy of all the Highs in our life. When we got into a "real" relationship; when we got engaged; our wedding; our vacations; our thoughtfully crafted haikus, one-liners, and sarcastic, biting remarks about other peoples' ridiculous behavior. It's in many ways more of a political platform from which we project all these slogans, edited photos, and perfectly "slanted" version of our story than it is truly a News Feed. Although there are some more outwardly explicit folks who post their break-ups and depression for all to scrutinize, even they tailor their drama to appear truly significant.
All this leads to me feeling pretty crumby about my life as I unconsciously compare it to the glamorous billboards of others'. I feel so worthless being a Christian at a normal job in Texas rather than feeding orphans in Sudan. I feel desperately ugly when I look at the gorgeous poses of my fashionable artsy friends. I feel talentless when I see the beautiful photography, websites, typography, logos, and paintings posted. I feel awkward and unsuccessful when I read of my friend's graduation from a PHD program in Psychology while another friend graduated from Law School and passed the bar. All of these achievements, all of this sparkle utterly blinds me to the true beauty, grace, and extravagant joy that God has gifted to me. I forget that beautiful, wonderful little boy sleeping one room over, my loving husband right beside me, my fabulous friends, my family, health, job, church, and house. How could I be so forgetful? Although I know the many many blessings that spill over ever area of my life, I am so quick to forget when I compare myself with others. I am so good at matching up their best qualities with my worst ones, always seeing myself as a miserable failure.
That's why I've made a list. There's about 25 people that I do life with on a weekly basis, and so they are the only ones that I actively seek to read about and check up on. At least with them, I know their problems as well as their successes and don't feel the same level of sharp and painful contrast.
The truth is that I am a miserable failure. Feeling the contrast between me and others should only remind me that God gives us all different talents and skills to make his name great (even if most of us spend most of our time trying to make our name great). My very distress at my comparative "failure" in life should only yet again convict me of my deeply seeded desire to bring myself glory rather than God. How great is his love that, even after he made me alive and saved and justified me in Christ, he could still love me when I consistently seek myself above him!
So Facebook isn't evil. I am. The Problem with Facebook, fundamentally, is me. And ultimately the cure is Him and only Him.
"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"" (Romans 8:12-15 ESV)