The greatest missionary to ever live once wrote these words to the church of Rome,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Paul (Romans 7:15)
Let me ask you something, why do you have a Facebook account, and do you believe it is a good thing?
I’m struggling with this question myself in a major way. For a little over a month now I have had a lot of great reasons to not be on social media. It was no special effort of mine to stop being on there, so don’t think I’m speaking from some self-righteous position. I’m working hard on some relationships with individuals I actually see in person, and frankly it seems like a far better use of my time.
I am an introvert by definition. I grew up in a household where genuine in-depth conversations were very rare if they even happened at all. So face-to-face communication was and is a fairly huge struggle for me. When I get frustrated, prideful, depressed, or basically experience emotions of any kind, the internet has been a “safe place” for me to express myself. It has enabled my introversion in ways I haven’t even fully grasped. It gave me a place to vent. A place to rant and release those emotions. The problem is, that’s not healthy at all. The bigger problem is, I know it and yet I keep getting on there. As Paul said, “I do the very thing I hate.”
I know good and well I’m not alone in this. For years we have had published knowledge that Facebook usage is linked to depressive symptoms. The cause? Something they are calling “social comparison,” which in other words means we tend to be fake on social media and only present our highlight reels. Even though we know this, we still do it, and on average we do it for about an hour a day.
So when I saw this well-meaning Instagram post the other day, I felt some kind of way about it,
View this post on Instagram
According to eMarketer.com, 5.7 million kids under the age of 11 are on #Instagram, #Facebook, and #Snapchat. That's 5.7 million kids lying about their age (all 3 platforms are supposedly 13+). That's 5.7 million kids one direct message away from a predator's request for nudes. 5.7 million kids one hashtag away from hardcore pornography. 5.7 million kids who are vulnerable to vicious comments, cyberbullying, comparison, and insecurity. . #Parents, we must be the watchdogs of this incredible risk to our kids. Spread the word… no social media before 13. Talk to your kids about it. Don't let their first choice on social media be a lie. . #playingwithfire #parenting #parentswhofight #actyourage
My purpose in writing this is not to be critical of these folks who posted this. They are making a great point, but let’s be honest, who do we think we are that we believe it’s fine for us but not them? Why does the line get drawn at 13-years-old? To me the situation reeks of that “I’m older, I can handle it” self-righteousness, as we look at children with a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality.
Now let’s get real honest. Social media isn’t causing our tendency to want to keep up an appearance, but is rather exposing what was already there. I’ve seen this happen elsewhere.
Call me a crazed idiot, but when I was saved at 26-years-old, I genuinely thought my introverted self was going to walk into a church and finally be able to be who I am. The Bible is really clear on confessing sins and faults to one another. I had been reading the words of Paul, who called himself the chief of all sinners and said things like what I quoted above, and I just completely assumed that if a congregation of people was willing to sit there and accept those words, then surely they would accept me for who I am.
Maybe my limited experience has me blind to the possibility of that being a reality, but I haven’t found it. Love has been far outweighed by self-righteous attitudes. People seem so concerned with keeping up an appearance that it has literally been their “Christian” advice for what I should do while going through a struggle. I can’t say this any clearer, I reject the hell out of that. People need genuine help. Not just prayers and regurgitated clichés for their health or financial situations, but authentic prayers and genuine help with the sins they struggle with. We have turned church into such a masquerade ball that they know good and well they won’t find it there. Confessing tongues can’t speak through fake smiles, but yet this is where we should tell lost people to go so they can find out about Jesus? It seems to me that they would do just as well to click on Facebook.
Am I bashing the church? I don’t know…was Paul? Was Christ when He flipped those tables? I’m sure somebody said they were. It just frustrates me to no end when the church looks just like the world, but has somehow convinced themselves that they don’t. Personally, that makes it about the last place I want to go when I’m genuinely struggling, but maybe that’s just the introvert in me. I honestly don’t know and I pray that you’ve had a different experience.
Facebook is awful for us. Something very bad happens when “liking” something becomes a button instead of an honest emotion. But make no mistake, something very bad happens when we spend an hour of our day knowing the truth about ourselves while observing fake presentations of those around us. I, for one, believe that it doesn’t matter if that hour is spent on Sunday mornings under a steeple or late at night flicking your thumb up a news feed.