I posted a picture on Facebook today. I don’t do this very often so I suppose it is something of an event in the small circle of the virtual world I inhabit. 68 people thought so and saw fit to ‘Like’ it. Some, incredibly, within a few minutes of posting it (what are you doing on FB all the time!)
Now I’m genuinely grateful for the many nice comments people made, and I can say with utter objectivity (!) that my girls are beautiful and deserve all the praise lavished upon them. But it got me thinking. Did I recognise the ‘lovely’ family being described by kind friends?
Of course, if all you have to go on is this immortalised moment of time, it’s a fair description. Even if Lottie is eating a bicyce pump. But does it reflect reality? We had a lovely holiday but even on the day that photo was taken we had our moments. And not just those of us who were under the age of four at the time.
Now none of this is rocket science. We all know that the Sweeting family (or indeed any family) is made up of a bunch of sinners bumping along together with more or less evidence of God’s grace visible in proportion to levels of hunger and tiredness. But that’s not the image projected on Facebook. On Facebook we can pick and choose the images and the information we share to provide a highly manufactured version of our life.
Does this matter? Perhaps it shouldn’t. Except I think somewhere along the line we beging to mistake Facebook for reality. So it seems that everyone else has a rosy life without any struggles – especially folk like me who rarely post anything. And then we get an online multiplication of what I call the Sunday Mask Syndrome. Where everyone looks to be doing ‘fine’ and so it becomes harder to be ‘real’ with one another. Which is crippling to community, sharing and accountability.
Perhaps FaceBook should be re-named FaceMask – because even those who decide to share the utterly tedious detail of their life in this way are still in fact projecting a particular image of themselves.
Of course all this ground has been covered much more theologically robustly and helpfully by Tim Chester in his little book Will you be my Facebook Friend? – well worth a read if you’re trying to engage Biblically with this area of social media.
But worth thinking through:
- Whether the things you post on Facebook more closely reflect you as a person or an image you would like to project.
- How you can use social media like Facebook to encourage and help your friends and to bring glory to God.
- How we can be helpfully honest/real about life through social media so that we can encourage real community, sharing and accountability.
PS I won’t be offended if you don’t ‘Like’ this…