The problem with our society today is not that we have adults who act like children. The problem is, we have adults who aspire to act like children. It is their goal in life. They hate the idea of acting like adults (although they absolutely insist upon being treated as adults). They do not just…
A preacher colleague of mine messaged me on Facebook this week. He wanted to tell me I was on a list of people who have not claimed their big check from Such-and-Such Government Agency. After discovering that he did not know two of his own daughters, confirming my suspicions of a hack, I told him I had reported him to Facebook.
I awoke one day and was suddenly bombarded by notifications about how I can make money by downloading an app and simply refusing to text while driving. My stink-o-meter went off immediately. Nobody gets paid for not doing something. It’s got to be a scam.
I made a comment to that effect on Facebook and was quickly reminded of one of the reasons I post such things so infrequently.
When a friend’s Facebook profile has “It’s complicated” in the “relationships” space, that’s bad news. Granted, being single can be complicated. So can being married. But in this context, “complicated” means something that the friend in question is hesitant to try to qualify with a simple word.
I had the opportunity to counsel a “friend” through the process of deleting a Facebook post — a process I am downright evangelistic about, by the way; I know of no other “skill” so easily acquired, so desperately needful, and so seldom practiced. It’s basically a matter of clicking things that look like they would like to be clicked, looking for the word “delete,” then clicking that.
I think I’ve finally figured out what bugs me about selfies on social media. It’s that attention is being drawn, almost exclusively, to the outward appearance. Sometimes it’s our accomplishments, sometime it’s our misfortune, sometimes it’s our surroundings. But usually it’s just our looks. A new haircut, a cute expression — worse yet, the infamous “Which do you like better?” post, which literally begs for audience participation. All of this is a 21st Century way of saying, “Look at me! Look at me!”
If you believe everything on Facebook that corresponds with your current world view and reject everything that doesn’t, you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem.
The curator of a museum is responsible for the content of the museum’s displays. They acquire permanent additions, they arrange for temporary exhibits, they generally set it up so that the museum receives the maximum possible amount of positive attention. “That place is amazing!” would-be attendees say to one another. “We absolutely have to go there!”
The plumbing problems, the mounting debt, the personality flaws of the artists — those are not to be put on display. These negative traits of the museum are every bit as real, perhaps even more so, than the positive ones. But they stay hidden from the public if the curator has anything to say about it.
Social media has been described as a way of “curating” our lives. We put on display only those aspects that we wish to show. Generally that means all good news, all the time — pictures of our dinner, or of the family at the amusement park. That sort of thing. “My life is great! Don’t you wish you were me?” is the general idea. Or perhaps a bit of wisdom or humor we tracked down on the internet — which, presumably, prove that we ourselves are wise or humorous. Occasionally we may post a vague request for emotional support — “Can’t get into it now, but I need your prayers,” “Feeling especially glum today,” “New shoes, what do you think?”, etc. But let’s be honest; those tend very strongly to be more in the “begging for compliments” category and less in the “I am weak and I need help” category; after all, if we really needed help, we would actually talk about our problems.
Actually, “talk about our problems” is another example of the same phenomenon. Sometimes we can’t seem to talk about anything else. But I would venture to say, in at least 90 percent of these cases the “problems” in question are not our fault; they are topics of conversation mostly to generate pity or place blame. It’s the same principle, really — allowing people to see the part of our lives that we are willing to expose — and absolutely nothing else.
But that is not how we build relationships. That is how we build walls.
The Bible tells Christians, “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another” (James 5:16). The prayers of righteous brethren “can accomplish much,” as the text goes on to read, because we have created real and lasting bonds. They know our weaknesses, so they can minister to us in our weaknesses. Hiding our weaknesses may make us feel secure in the short term, but what they really do is prohibit our spiritual family from doing its job — and hindering our own ability to grow and mature.
The curated life is all about appearances. We want to act like everything is wonderful — especially when it isn’t. The vulnerable life is all about realities. We are in constant need of assistance, and we want to make ourselves available to the ones most willing and able to offer it.
That is not to say you should take to Facebook and begin confessing every character flaw in front of the whole world. But perhaps privately admitting our frailties and weaknesses to a trusted brother or sister in Christ would not be the worst idea in the world.