When the day is gone, and you sit listening to the world surrounding you, do you realize your flaws? I have been experiencing a recurring thought that urges me to simplify the life I lead. While no perfect life is capable for me or available to me, a better one exists in the here and now. This retrospect isn’t one of a violent catapult, but rather the proceeding of the methodical inchworm. I’m not compelled to this truth in a rush, but I’m compelled just the same.
I deactivated my Facebook account after some soul searching. It was consuming precious time and leaving me unwell. I believe effort spent elsewhere will lend some much needed perspective. For those unhappy with my decision, as there no doubt will be, I must ask myself just how much I should toil over the idea that a friend will be upset with me while clearly valuing our cyber relationship more than our prior and traditional relationship. How is it we’ve come to prefer the virtual reality versions of ourselves, and others, to the reality? Short answer? We often manipulate what we say, how we look, the content we post, and so on to build a better version of ourselves to others. …And we very much prefer THAT version to the real one.
Self loathing might be a more apt description of that phenomena we’re considering here. Too few of us are content with ourselves so we turn to a virtual world that allows us to feel better about ourselves. That’s absolutely sick in layman’s terms and easily quantifiable of a diagnosis in clinical terms.
I can’t be around that for the time being.
Maybe I’ll return and pair down my list of friends. I cut mine from nearly 3000 down to a bit over 700 several months ago. That was the easy trim. The hard one comes next, should I take on that challenge. I was able to grab my scalpel and surgically remove the cancers, the fatty tissues, and the generally unnecessary portions of the Facebook body in the first operation. Will the actual friends I had long ahead of the invention of Facebook understand the nature of our relationship has changed and not for the better? Will they grasp that my choice to opt-out is less about them and their behavior, and more about how I’m responding to what I see and don’t see? Will they ever take a step back and say, “Maybe he just needed to concentrate on more important matters…” and let it be?
Some may. Some may not. I guess we’ll see.
When I post a picture of my silly dog, I get 200 likes by the day’s end. When I post a picture of my children doing something fun, they might garnish 50 or so likes and responses. When I tell God I love him or ask a question about where ethics comes from, I might see 2 likes. On a great day as many as 5.
We’re told to go forth and make disciples. We’re commanded to share the Gospel. Of the friends I have on Facebook I believe it reasonable to say 90% consider themselves Christian, half of which are born again. …And I can’t get 2 lousy likes on a platform specifically built to share things with others. This is in part a reflection of the people, but also the programming. Algorithms dictate what content is elevated and what isn’t. God is none too important to Mark Zuckerberg and he makes that obvious.
I’m not giving up on anything. But I am taking a much needed sabbatical. I want to connect in meaningful ways with my friends. I want to sit with them and enjoy conversations that begin with, “Did you know?” or “I read the other day.” and possibly, “I was thinking about something I learned last week,” instead of pictures emulating beer commercials, filtered selfies, and the purporting of rumor, gossip, hearsay, and tittle-tattle…
Lord help me. Help me through this technological adolescence. Help us all as we realize just how much good we can do with “Tekhne,” as the Greeks put it, while avoiding the destruction that so often accompanies it… We need you more with each passing day and embrace you less.
Be salt and seek light my friends… I’m making a solemn attempt.