Recently, I had an incident where I should have been 100% engaged with my family and caught myself posting a Facebook status update instead of being headlong in the experience itself. Soon afterwards a friend, Brian Hook, preached a great message on the “Facebook us”–the outward ‘brand’ we manage–versus the “inner man” of Ephesians 3. And so, I decided I should suspend my Facebook account for an undetermined amount of time.
Why? I am in a place in life right now where I need the incredibly real and nothing superficial. I had 1044 “friends” on facebook. That isn’t a brag, it just shows my proclivity to check accept along with my frequent usage of friend finder. Like most of us, I had to check who some of the requester’s mutual friends were to figure out how I knew them. And like a few of you, I took pride as a watched my friend number grow as it fed my ego. It is interesting that Facebook chose the term “friends.” In a deep life crisis, the people I need do not number 1044, but more like 10 or possibly 20. Those same people would undoubtedly call me in their crisis. These are my lay-down-your-life-for-one-another friends.
Facebook can be used for good, but I found myself using it mostly for narcissistic purposes. A place to air out my “charming wit” and promote “brand me” ever so subtly. In a great article called What’s [Actually] on Your Mind? in Relevant magazine (scroll to page 82 of the digital edition for full article), Shane Hipps writes
There is a lot of exhibitionism on Facebook. Such exhibitionism has an unusual effect on us. We not only want others to see us, we like to see us. We are able to inspect and tweak what others are seeing about us. We become fascinated by the image we project. It’s like having a mirror on your desk or in your pocket. . . .This kind of regular self-inspection eventually gives rise to a subtle narcissism.
Narcissism is a rather exquisite vice. It is very difficult to detect in oneself. And when something is hard to identify it makes it hard to dissolve. The real buzzkill, though, is how it affects relationships. (He argues how the more narcissistic we get the more we struggle in relationships). Facebook is the perfect cocktail; a medium that focuses much of the attention on ourselves, while appearing to focus our attention on our relationship with others. It is a mirror masquerading as a window.
A final word from his article solidified my need to take a hiatus.
We must step out of the stream of an experience to record it. The result is that we are no longer present in the experience in that moment. We are living as unpaid journalists who chronicle life as it passes by. This may seem insignificant. But our presence matters. Our brief but increasingly frequent moments of absence add up. Imagine a father who flickers in and out of his child’s life every time he checks his iPhone (ouch-emphasis mine). He might be there physically but, but he may as well be at the office or on a business trip. People can feel our absence and it is usually a loss. We become digital nomads, glancing around the globe, never fully present. It is a ghost-like condition. It diminishes one of God’s greatest gifts to us–a body. There is a reason God became a body in Jesus. (read this article!!!)
I do not think Facebook is evil. I think it can be used for good. But for me, in a season where God is doing some deep breaking in my life, I realize how much of the time I spend on Facebook is about the “outer me” and not the “inner me.” I need a season for God to work on the inner me. To separate myself from my self-created “brand” by which I try to orchestrate how others perceive me. To connect to people who will love me when they know the real Jordan, warts and all. To surround myself with people I can call who can hear the joy or waiver in my voice, or even better, look into my eyes and really read me. So, a hiatus is in order. I will keep posting on this blog as seems a place for me to more deeply process all that God is doing in me. I know most of my acquaintances won’t even realize I am gone. If you are a friend, you know how to reach me. Let’s talk over coffee where I can pat you on the back or give you a hug as we leave (I ain’t scared of a man hug, either). So for a while, Facebook, adieu.