There is a struggle and a tension I have with facebook.
If I am going to be honest, it is one of my primary sources of news.
It’s a place I get information and get informed and pass along the world to others.
And so sometimes, I use it as a vehicle for naming realities and lifting up my concerns about what is happening in the world.
But I’m no longer sure if I can/should use it in that way, and here is why…
We tend to only listen for what we want to hear and our facebook newsfeeds can be an echo chamber of similar beliefs.
We tend to throw out quick comments to provoke or inspire or joke, but we never actually have a conversation.
We tend to entrench ourselves only further into our own realities.
We tend to not actually do anything after we click “post”.
This morning, I listened to a sermon by Magrey deVega (which I found on Facebook) about whether or not there is room to restore ourselves from fear. He names the conflict, persecution, and very understandable fear of the Thessalonian community and then lifts up that Paul’s deep desire and longing for these people who were overcome by fear was to “see you face to face.” He couldn’t bear being apart from them in the midst of their struggle. He wanted to look them in the eyes and reassure them, comfort them, encourage them to hold fast, to keep going, to trust in God’s promises.
We can post things on facebook all day long about the things that trouble us, but we are just adding fuel to the fires of division, or preaching to the choir, or feeling like we are doing something when in fact we are not.
When we do so, we are in essence, standing on the street corner with a megaphone, trying to convince someone long enough to stay and listen.
I don’t think I can change a person’s mind through a facebook post.
I’m pretty sure I can’t change public policy through a facebook post.
I *might* be able to educate via a facebook post, but the reality is that there is counter-information out there for just about every single topic we might imagine and so if you don’t start from the same position as I do, it’s not helpful.
And half the time, the stuff we share uses headlines that are intended to incite or skew and another half of the time, no one actually reads the article and starts posting their own opinion anyways without taking the time for a reasoned conversation.
If we ever want to have a truly transformative conversation where we let the Holy Spirit move and lead us in forward together in spite of our differences, it is going to have to be a face to face conversation among equals.
If we want to overcome our fears, we are going to have to sit down face to face with the person we disagree with.
If we want to express a viewpoint and have a reasonable dialogue, it is going to go so much better face to face.
I thought for about half a second about just not going on facebook, but the truth is, I have a deep community of accountability, support and encouragement there. It is the best place to crowd source information about ministry that I have found. It is a place for networking and encouragement. It is a place where I go to let go of steam and complain when the copy machine isn’t working. I find pastoral care opportunities I would never hear of otherwise all over my newsfeed. I find solidarity and hope and wisdom and blessing all over the place on facebook.
Here’s what I’m going to try.
I can’t stop caring about the issues I care about.
So, instead of posting or sharing some random article or thought, I’m going to share an invitation to have a face-to-face conversation about the topic with any who might be interested.
Or, I’m going to post about what I’m actually committed to doing in regards to that issue… along with an invitation to physically join me or personally talk with me about the action.
But, I’m not going to just share something to stir the pot or even to educate/advocate, because it simply isn’t effective and it stresses me out.
It’s not the new year, yet, but that is my resolution.