I See What You’re Doing, and it’s Weird that I’m Not There: My Thoughts about FaceBook

Facebook is a strange phenomenon. Checking it comes almost as natural to me as making coffee or not wanting to exercise in the morning. I want to check in with all my friends, see your pictures (and, is it just me, or do your feeds seem more cluttered with shares and whatnot than with pictures and personal thoughts?) and find out how you are feeling. Call me social, call me nosy but I honestly love to follow the story of your life.  I cheer when you share a victory or sweet family moment. I get weepy when you post sad things. I get angry right along with you when you post your frustrations. I don’t even mind when you post the occasional rant because you’re a crunchy mama, a liberal, a conservative, a homeschooler, a SAHM or a full-time project manager :  ) I like all your stories! Baseline, I think Facebook is awesome. A big thumbs up to Mr. Zuckerberg.

But lately, I’ve started to wonder whether my attachment to FB is good for me at this stage of my life. Being detached from a strong community of nearby friends and family feels to me like I’ve been tossed off the ship and I’m left floating in my own little life-raft –  just waiting for another ship to come along and take me aboard.

Now, this little boat of mine is pretty awesome.  I have a super handsome first mate who helps me navigate the waters of Dayton OH. I have three little sailors who have actually learned how to put away laundry and kinda/sorta vacuum and dust (swab the deck, anyone??). There are lots of days when this little boat of mine is full of happiness. Paul is still my best friend and though we’ve struggled a little bit lately, those struggles haven’t upset the boat entirely or made me want to strand the first mate on the nearest desert island. I like him. I’ll keep him. We have a good time together : )

But still, we’re kind of on our own.  Thus, looking at FB has the tendency to make me feel like I’ve stopped in front of a candy store window and I’m pressing my nose and hands up against the glass to try and get as close to the action as I can without actually being in the store. (See, friends in PA, I just compared my time with you to candy : ). There are days when it seems as though God is tugging my arm and pulling me away from the window. He is saying, “Hey! Here is Dayton! There are people here that you need to meet and get to know!” and I’m saying, “Yeah, yeah yeah!…But just look at what I am missing!”

Young girl at window

(Ok, so no more metaphors. You get the picture. Although, I really do think best in metaphors and similes. Honestly, Paul and I have much better outcomes when we argue in figurative language…but that’s a whole other blog post. And I bet you wish you could be a fly on our wall during a dispute! : )

My guess is that FB (or Instagram or Twitter or any other social media site) could easily become something that holds me back from fully engaging in the environment where God has placed me. I remember the blog post that I wrote about seeing a distant friend’s life via FB (a life in Oxford studying Shakespeare…sigh) and wrestling with contentment. Well, now I see close friends’ lives via FB and I’m struggling again! Maybe not with discontentment so much as with those unhappy moments when I realize that I’m missing something that I truly valued.

When faced with a reminder that relationships and circumstances have changed I am tempted to feel neglected. Those despondent feelings wait for a chance to sneak in when I’m not looking (or…when I am looking…at your latest picture : ). Depictions of events I would have normally attended, replete with the comments of people who were there, make me wish for what I once had. If you can hum the “nobody loves me, everybody hates me” song, well, you now have the appropriate background music for imagining my little pity party.

“I should just stay off FB,” I have thought, “that way I’ll never know what I am missing.” At which point I might cross my arms and march away in a huff, third grade style.

But I haven’t done that : ) and I won’t. Besides being a place for me to socialize, FB presents a unique occasion for Christian growth. Every opportunity to be envious is also an opportunity to remember and be grateful. Every opportunity to pull away from my far-off friends is also an opportunity figure out new ways to engage with those friends from this distance. I might even begin to pray that God would send someone into your life to replace me so that you can have another boots-on-the-ground relationship like the one that we shared. I might. Maybe : )

The bottom line is this, I can’t ignore FB just because I’m tempted to feel sad. Deleting my iphone app and closing down the program isn’t the answer. Rather, there must be a way to stay involved with your life while also learning to appreciate the adventure that faces me here. I need to meet new friends! Ones that live here, in Dayton, and eventually there—wherever we get stationed next. Wherever I am, I want to be ALL THERE, confident in the truth that my life is in God’s hands and that he promises to give me all things for my good and his glory. It’s the skill of enjoying this life while not pining after the one that is gone, even though I still see it on a daily basis.

This is an emotional dance that needs to be learned if I’m going to survive in the Air Force. And I think of my children too! God needs to teach me these steps (haha!! I just compared God to a dance instructor! What’s next!?) so that I can help my children each time we “face the next adventure” and they struggle with loneliness (poor Brenn still tears up when we talk about PA). Ultimately, I must remember that true joy and contentment is found in knowing and loving God. I can love people, far and near, because my security is found in him.

So, how do you handle FB? Anything that you’ve found helpful? I’ve realized that missionaries might have a unique view on this and I wonder how having FB, Skype, Instagram etc has affected them in their far-away ministries. Anyway, I’d love to hear from you about this!  (You can even post something to my FB feed ; )

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