Confession: My Love-Hate Relationship with Facebook
For as much as a lot of folks complain about Facebook, I actually don’t mind it too much. For one, it keeps me connected to people I’m pretty sure I would’ve lost touch with years ago. I’m also pretty good at keeping it in perspective, that for the most part people are only sharing their “best moments” on there. So the folks who look like they have the great relationships or awesome vacations or super-nice whatever thingy aren’t also posting about the big fight they had the night before, or when they almost got fired at work, or when they found themselves in massive debt, or when they did things of which they weren’t so proud. In some ways, Facebook is a continuous TV commercial about life.
I’m not one of those folks who gets on Facebook to continually complain about Facebook, and that’s not what this is about. My opinion is that each of us is personally responsible for either keeping or rejecting the things in life that are useful and of service to us, or not so. Yeah, Facebook is going to show you ads you don’t want to see, send you requests for games you don’t want to play, and so on. It’s their business model. They are a business. It’s how they generate revenue. So, if this were too uncomfortable to me, I would delete my account and move on. And, confession time – I have been known to block people from my newsfeed who I find too dramatic or whiny or generally toxic, or even block them from seeing my own updates. Again, it’s not that I dislike those people. But I’m taking responsibility for setting boundaries and what comes into my space.
But I noticed something about myself on FB that could use some work. I live in a place that is much, much different from the place where I grew up. I’m in a big city where people make a lot of money, have high-pressure careers, have big fancy degrees, travel the world, drive fancy cars, live in expensive houses, etc. It’s a place that values Success, with a capital S. Don’t take this as me saying that people are “bad” for having those things. Not at all – they have all worked very hard for the things they have. But it’s a lot different from the place where I was raised, where things are simpler, perhaps more laid-back. It’s a different way of life. (But in my blood, I also know that I belong in the big city and am much happier here than I would be back where I came from.)
Opportunity maybe isn’t as easy to come by in the place where I grew up. The socioeconomics are different. I guess you could say that in some sense, I feel like where I live now is for those of us who “made it out.” But I know not everyone shares that sentiment, and I know that’s a judgmental thing to say. I was privileged to get an education and to travel on a successful career path that’s given me a decent income and the luxury of a lot of great experiences along the way. A lot of folks back where I came from haven’t lead that kind of life.
And here is where I’m not proud of myself. I notice myself looking at status updates, forming an opinion about other people’s lives, and pitying some of the folks “left behind.” Pity does not equate kindness. It means that I think I am somehow superior to these other people. Somehow, I have made myself “better” than the others. But how can I be “better” than my fellow human beings, when God created all of us equally? This is nothing more than my ego at work.
It’s true that I don’t see eye-to-eye with a lot of people from my home state – culturally, politically, spiritually. But in no way does it make any of us superior to the other. It’s something I need to remind myself, over and over again. Even the person who wishes me ill is not lower than me. I strive to believe that not just because I want to be “nice,” but because there is a sense of inner peace and harmony that stems from it. The less I allow my ego to be in charge, the more peaceful I feel – at all times.
And so, I’m striving to look at every single person as God’s own precious child – not for me to judge, condemn, or scorn, but for me to love as part of our collective human spirit.