Because I have over 1,000 friends. People write on my wall all. the. (omfg!!!!) time. I share videos, funny pictures, and intellectual articles. I don’t have to use sentences to describe my emotions but rather short grammatically deficient phrases, as long as they’re preceded by a # (#heyidontdothat #thisbloggerisanidiot).
What’s more, I’m able to learn what an acquaintance from two summers ago is thinking about the recent election, where Hurricane Sandy is going to hit shore, or if there’s a snow day in Seattle. At least once per few days, I articulate a witty status update that receives several “likes” and my self-esteem soars. I smile at the red box telling me how many notifications I have and then air jam in my room to Brad Paisley’s “Online”.
But okay. Enough of that. Let’s be honest now: I hate Facebook. I hate it like turkeys hate Thanksgiving and everyone outside Dallas hates the Cowboys. For one, it takes up my time. I get on to check a message from an actual friend and ten minutes later I’m reading what my ex-girlfriend’s sister’s new boyfriend thinks about global warming and gay rights. Furthermore, it destroys authentic relationships. Nothing depresses me more than having someone whom social networking tells me is a “friend” walk by me in the hallway while neither of us exchanges more than a glance. Not to mention, it’s egotistical and narcissistic. If I spent half the time dedicated to updating my profile on say, I dunno, something outdated like… reading my Bible, I might actually make it through Leviticus. Maybe.
And then there’s dating.
I mean God help us, what has Facebook done to romance? Beyond the obvious un-intentional atmosphere it provides for conversations that should be happening face to face (DTRs on Facebook? Really?) since when has “being Facebook official” held any significance in the real world …other than granting your family and friends permission to relentlessly stalk your newest love? (#Momknockitoff) All it really signals is that when the relationship finally does end, you’ll have one more reminder when you log onto your homepage and see that they’ve gone from “in a relationship” with you, to “single” and then (a couple hours later) to “in a relationship” with the guy whose profile is way cooler than thou.
Also, enough with the poking, just make out already.
So all this begs the questions: why do I still have a Facebook? If all it does is waste my time, ruin my love life and promote pride…then why do I keep it around? I could delete my profile and live on in Facebook-less bliss. But I haven’t. Why?
Well, in short, it’s because I need to be on Facebook. Let me clarify, Christian’s need to be on Facebook.
This isn’t a matter of addiction but calling. See, with the invention of the Internet and the explosion of social networking, humans have created an entirely new dimension. While Facebook certainly isn’t the entirety of this transformation, neither is it a passing fad like Myspace or Xanga. Just look at the statistics: as of this past spring, when I first wrote this article and have since been too apathetic to update the statistics (#laziness),there are currently 500 million active Facebook users, 50% of whom log on every single day, 35 million of whom then go ahead an update their status. And, lest you be fooled, Facebook is not an American way of life. It is global. Approximately 70% of Facebook users live outside the United States. Today it’s estimated that 1 in 13 people in the world have a Facebook account.
Indeed, Facebook is changing our world with significance comparable to only one other invention…ever:
…no, I’m talking about the printing press. Consider this: the famous Gutenberg Bible was created in 1456, the first significant production of the newly invented printing press. By 1500, just 54 years later, it is roughly estimated that anywhere from 8 to 24 million books were in existence within Europe, consisting of over 30,000 new titles. This massive development in technology, literature and communication set fire to the world as people knew it and forever changed our global culture.
I understand that this may be an apples to oranges comparison but just look at the numbers: Facebook was launched in February of 2004, and by October of 2011, just seven years later, there were over 500 million active users worldwide posting 5 billion web posts, notes, blogs and news articles each week. Some estimate today that there are as many as 845 million Facebook accounts. Even with the low-end figures that’s nearly 20 times the impact of printing press in less than a fifth of the time.
Simply put, there is no more world without Facebook, at least not in the near future (probably until the zombie apocalypse).
If there’s no world without Facebook, then, as with the printing press, the Church needs to be at the forefront of this global revolution. Facebook can be a way to waste time, stalk strangers and sensually poke the life out of a crush you’d never talk to in real life, or it can be a means of reaching our world with the love of Christ.
I say this because I’ve been convicted of how often I use my Facebook to serve my own purposes. I help it make me look cool, hip, intellectual, dateable, etc. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve even used it to tear down others. I’ve made sarcastic remarks, picked fights and re-posted downright rude material, all in pursuit of an ever beckoning “like”. So is there a need for reform in my Facebooking habits? Absolutely. But (as with so many things in life) it’s not the instrument that needs reforming, it’s me.
So the point is: don’t delete your Facebook. Let’s not kid ourselves, you weren’t going to anyways. Instead, I commend you to contemplate the role it plays in your life, and adapt it to live a healthy, social and authentic life in the real world prior to stepping into the virtual one. But let’s not ignore the transformation of our global culture and let’s not miss out on an opportunity to further impact that culture with the love of Christ. If 500 million people were flocking to a designated corner of the globe for any given reason, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Church would flood the area with missionaries as well. Yes, our voice will be one in a sea of many. For every status update we might post that glorifies the Lord there’s 60 million others, daily, to compete with. But that’s not reason not to try.
Let us embrace this global shift in culture. We seem to forget that our role as Christians is not to change culture but rather we are called to help bring about the redemption of culture through the good news of the Gospel (so yes, “Soulbook” is an awful idea #iseeyourobbell). Therefore, let us be ones who are in the world of Facebook but not of it. May everything we say, do, Tweet, #share, post, and “like” be a reflection of the reality of the Gospel in every space of our life, especially the virtual ones. If you’re looking for a cool way to start, I recommend sharing something sincere but inspirational…such as, gee I dunno, a blog? Just a thought.
And one more thing… enough with the poking.