Recently I decided to leave Facebook. My wife and I had a shared account, so I simply took my name off of it. Once I did, there have been those who've asked me, "Why? What happened?"
My answer was and is, "I've grown tired of the hostility that I see there."
During this political season, I have seen some of the most hateful, hurtful posts and reposts from both sides of the party system. And I find that even more distressing when those who are doing so are Christians or claim to be.
I found myself asking,"What happened to humility? What happened to civility?"
People post comments that I cannot imagine they would ever say to a person's face.
Remember when Facebook was the place where people posted pictures of their families? That's like asking, "Do you remember when they played music videos on MTV?"
Now it all seems to be advertisements, or people selling things, or posts and reposts of articles, memes, an abundance of cat videos, quizzes people took (of which I was guilty of doing myself), and anger. Lots and lots of anger. Anger at the government. Anger at different political parties. Anger at different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations or identities . . . and on and on and on . . .
It was literally affecting my mood to just go on Facebook. I didn't like that, instead of being able to check on friends who live in other states and see what was new in their lives, I was being inundated with posts that saddened and upset me because they were filled with such vitriol. I would see comments that people had posted (usually under an article they'd shared) that were nothing but pure, genuine hate. Hatred towards refugees, the President, Hispanics, the LGBT community . . . No matter where I stood on an issue, I could not grasp the anger behind people's responses.
Too often I found myself wondering:
Why do we spend most of our time responding instead of relating to others?
Why do we claim to love a book like To Kill A Mockingbird and not heed its message of putting yourself in someone else's skin, walking around in it, so that you can see things from their perspective?
"Well, I'm free to give my opinion, aren't I??? It's a free country still, isn't it???" seems to be the go-to response in our society. But how often are these opinions backed by nothing more than prejudices, biases, and a lack of real connection to others outside of your socio-economic or religious base, race, or political party?
We also tend to run to our "freedoms" and our "rights," even at the cost of the greater good or at the expense of loving our neighbor as ourself. It can all be very me-centric. We too often only look for agreement on what we believe and if we don't like something, well then, we're just going to blast it, guns blazing, in a full-throttle venomous attack.
What happened to love and respect?
It appears they've been replaced by animosity and disdain.
There is no discussion. It's not a dialogue but a diatribe. A drawing a line in the sand. Like that old Eveready battery commercial, we stand there as Robert Conrad used to do, in tough man posture and say, "I dare you to knock this off! I dare you!" (Boy, did I just age myself with that reference).
It is all attack if I don't agree with what you're saying. Hostility has replaced civility in the area of public discourse. Even among Christians.
Where is Philippians 2:3-4?
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Why isn't there more of that on social media instead of all the hostility?
Instead, social media thrives on "rivalry" and "conceit." So much of social media is based on promoting a false sense of ourselves to begin with.
So much of this fits and furies online, I believe, comes from fear. We live in a very fear-based culture. Our media perpetuates fear because fear is a great motivator, I mean just look how political candidates use it to stir up their base. Yet the Apostle Paul clearly wrote to Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (1st Timothy 2:7). Yet that's not what I read when I look at Facebook. I too often see the opposite.
I found myself getting caught up in the anger behind the rhetoric. I was certainly not filled with humility or compassion, but with irritation that led to frustration that led to indignation. Notice there was not one fruit of the spirit in that list. The enmity I saw online was going internally and taking root in me. Because of this, I have decided to leave Facebook. (I know there are many who will be saddened by the lack of constant references to books and reading, as well as to Gilmore Girls, or my continually sharing links to the latest entry on this blog).
If I have been guilty to others of the reasons I'm leaving Facebook then I apologize and repent right here and now.
Certainly when I write, I pray that it is never in anger or indignation. I pray that my words come from a place of love and compassion, grace and mercy. I'm sure I have failed and there may be those who see this post as one of those failures. I hope not, as it is not my desire to offend (although we also live in a culture that is constantly offended), but my intent has always been to share my struggles of faith, give an honest account of our family life, including the ups and downs that came with adoption, but to ultimately point in all things to a loving God as shown through His son Jesus.
I wrestle with continuing the blog, but I know that if I do continue I won't be posting anymore links after this one on Facebook. If you want to follow, there is a button to join this site. Or you can follow by e-mail or Twitter.
I hope that anyone who reads this will understand.