What’s your status?
Most of us have accounts on Facebook.com. For those of us who use the site, our profile says a lot about us. It gives people a look at who we are, what we like, what we look like, and who we know. I am not addressing the occasional privacy issues that we hear about. I am also setting aside those who use the internet for their ‘second life.’ I am talking about real people posting real things virtually in a real community. I actually think that a lot of people communicate more openly and honestly on their Facebook page, than they will in in-person conversation.
In this community, and others like Myspace and Friendster, the profile picture and status are like a billboard. Those two bits of information are visible to almost everyone on the site, are updated most frequently, and speak pretty honestly about what we are selling.
“What we are selling?”
Yes. I am not talking about a money for goods or services type of sale, but an advertisement of who or what we are about, and what we offer to the world, in a quick snapshot.
So a little honesty from me. My status updates on facebook used to be quite frequent and tended toward trivial. While I did think about what I was posting, I was not always thinking if what I was saying needed to be broadcast to the 500 or so people on my friends list.
Every so often someone would post something that caught my attention. It started with the, sometimes passive, aggressive statuses…
“Some people need to learn to mind their own business…”
“really thinks that some people need to pay more attention to their kids and how they behave in public.”
“thanks to [insert person or persons] for acting like real friends, unlike some people.”
Then the ‘big news’ updates…
“…is having a baby!!!!!”
“…bought a new car today.”
“…got a new job!”
Then I noticed the mundane things…
“…brushed my teeth and am ready for sleep.”
“dinner and dishes done.”
“…is headed to the bank.”
So I challenged myself to go a week without updating my Facebook status. A week turned into a month. A month turned into three. It wasn’t easy. I like Facebook. It’s fun to share info with friends in near real time. But I realized that most of what I posted really didn’t need to be said to the world. I needed to learn how I should interact with the world through my Facebook account.
I am not suggesting that everyone is like I was. I am not suggesting that everyone post less. I am suggesting that everyone think twice before hitting that ‘share’ button. Just because Facebook is asking, “What’s on your mind?” doesn’t mean that you have to share it with everyone.
I do have a few big concerns.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
Maybe what’s on your mind right now isn’t good. Maybe you need share what’s going on with God and not everyone on your friends list, and their friends, and your network. Many verses in the Bible talk about speech and the tongue. Using a keyboard instead of your tongue, and being behind a screen instead of in front of a person doesn’t give you a pass on what you are saying.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 ESV)
You definitely need to share important information with people in person. Put the computer down and talk to someone. If you have good news, go share it. If you have bad news, go tell someone who is close to you so they can lift you up. Human interaction is critical. Sitting in your house, all by yourself, creates an emotional bubble that can be dangerous.
Consider the audience. Does that guy you worked with three jobs and five years ago need to know that you just waxed your car? Maybe no. I guess it doesn’t really hurt anyone to put that out there, but does it do anything positive?
And finally, “What are you selling?” Maybe that car that is your profile picture defines you, or maybe you just like that car. Maybe your cat is the focus of your life, maybe not. Is your Farmville farm more important than the garden in your back yard? Are you really always that angry? Does your virtual soap box get more use than your Bible?
I do really like Facebook. It allows me to share with my remote family and friends more of my life than they would have seen ten years ago. I still need to pick up the phone and call them, and make a trip to see them. It lets me reach out to the different groups that I have created and share news and important updates. It has a place and a purpose. It’s fun. It is also very important that, like everything else, we measure our activity there against God’s word. I wasn’t a big fan of the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ fad of the nineties, but it did make me think about something as I wrote this. What would we post online if Jesus was on our friends list? With the understanding that God sees everything that you do, online, offline, everything…
What’s your status?