There’s an ancient proverb that says, “Know someone well you cannot, until her Facebook posts have you seen.”
Okay, so maybe I made that up, and maybe Yoda wouldn’t say that, but it’s kind of true, isn’t it? For the vast majority of my Facebook friends, I have very limited or even non-existent interaction with them outside social media, but I can learn volumes just by following them on Facebook. Whether that’s a good thing or not and the extent to which we can truly know someone through social media is for another post. My point is that the things people post and like (as well as the things they don’t post) give me numerous clues and insights into who they are and how they think. Sometimes I like what I see posted or shared, and many times I don’t. So what do I do with this information? What should I do with this information?
I’ve blogged before about how I wrestle with what I should produce on social media, but in this week’s post I want to share a bit about how I consume social media, and more specifically, what God is teaching me to do when I see things on Facebook that I disagree with or that irritate me.
I must confess up front that I am a very judgmental person. I may not give myself away by angrily commenting on anything and everything I disagree with, but my inner self is quick to roll my eyes, smirk at perceived ignorance, cut people down out of envy, or just get downright angry; self-righteously angry, that is.
This is true even when I’m in the non-Internet world, so you can imagine how bad it gets having access to a deluge of information about people’s lives and views neatly organized for my consumption via the Facebook news feed.
There goes Thelma, posting THAT ridiculous nonsense again. And next we have Louise, trying desperately to seem like she has it all together when I know she doesn’t. Sigh, who’s next?
It’s sort of funny, but it’s sadly true. And really, it’s ugly.
I can blame current events and all the political wars currently being waged across Facebook for making me extra judgy lately, but these circumstances don’t “make” me judgmental, they merely reveal the self-righteous attitude already rooted in my heart.
Lately, God has been showing me just how prevalent this sinful tendency is in how I view people. And sadly, about 13 years of being on Facebook have passed before I’ve looked this sin squarely in the face. But by God’s grace, He’s been teaching me to reprogram and discipline my mind to see my Facebook feed in a new light as a prayer list. It’s been helpful not only to redeem more of my Facebook usage, but also to grow compassion and love for those with whom I disagree, and prompt humility in my own views.
Now I do think there are times to be rightly grieved or angered over certain things. Posts that maliciously slander or demean fellow human beings made in the image of God, posts that spread lies and misinformation, posts claiming to speak for the Christian worldview that twist or ignore essential biblical and gospel truths…these and many others are what make Facebook such a dark place. So occasionally, it may be helpful and appropriate to speak up and respond in some way. But in any case, my first reaction should be to pray for the person who posted it, and not to just roll my eyes, put another black mark by their name, and then mindlessly move on.
So I’m praying that God would help me to love and treasure His grace more and more that I might better extend that grace and patience and loving truth to those around me. And part of extending that grace starts with some simple prayers for the people whose lives I scroll through each day.