“What my brief Facebook exile taught me”

Well, it lasted about two weeks.  In that time, some very interesting responses from folks, and a couple good, honest conversations too.  I’m back on Facebook – probably to the satisfaction of some, and the annoyance and disdain of others.  I thought I’d share a few things from my exile – what it taught me.

  1.  Cutting myself off from my Fantasy Sports group was a major no-no.  We’re a group of pastors who have fun bantering back and forth about Fantasy Baseball & Football, ask for advice about ministry, support each other when things are hard, and of course, lots and lots of sarcasm and picking on each other.  My buddies were not happy that I disabled my Facebook account….it’s a lot like leaving your fraternity, I suppose.  (Although I despise fraternities; that’s who I spent my college days picking fights with on the weekends) At any rate, withholding my weekly comments picking on people, supporting my friends, and spreading rumors and “honeybadgering” people so they would trade with me withheld my fellowship with people I call friends.
  2. It gets annoying when your wife asks you repeatedly if you heard about the latest news about your friends…..news you could have only gotten on Facebook.  “Did you see that article?”  “Did you hear that such and such did this and that?”  No honey….that’s why I went off Facebook in the first place.  “Oh, that’s right.”  What you learn is you realize you’re missing out, at least on the good stuff.  The ridiculous stuff.  Call it a case of FOMO.
  3. Apparently Instagram and Twitter also think I should be back on Facebook.  Hell, half the stuff on Twitter I can’t see because it’s linked to Facebook posts.  And Instagram…..I can only handle so many selfies, pictures of pets and babies, and my wrestlers being the knuckleheads they are (wrestling season can’t get here soon enough)
  4. But I was happier…and more tuned into the actual world.  You start to realize that how much time you waste on Facebook daily.  And it was nice not seeing everyone post their favorite tabloid news source stories and comment on it as if it was a reliable news source that we should all be buying into.
  5. The battery on my phone lasts a whole lot longer.  ‘Nuff said.
  6. I had no way of getting hold of any of my Navy friends while I was up in DC this past week.  And I really wanted to go to that Washington Nationals game last Thursday…..

Ok, all humor aside, let me explain MY reasons for the self-imposed exile.  I didn’t like who I was becoming – I was ashamed of who I was becoming.  I think I just reached a point where I was interacting with everyone on Facebook in a way that I was ashamed of myself and my own conduct.  Because of that, I needed a break – for me.

That being said, I still hate the way we interact with each other in society today, whether it be social media, or even face-to-face interactions.  I wonder when did we became a bunch of people who cared more about being personally validated and dispensing a vigilante-style justice in the form of our words?  Maybe we’ve always been that way – the whole human sin thing – but it just seems worse than ever, and I have to believe it wasn’t always this way.

When we disagree or don’t understand another, when did we move from asking “Why did you say that?” or “What did you mean?” to “How dare you think that; you should be ashamed of yourself.” 

The wrestler in me recalls that you can only change what’s in the locus of your control.  I can change my behavior.  I can hold myself accountable.  I can ignore the toxic shit that people post and what comes out of their brains.  I can’t control anything outside of that.  And I can also remember my #1 view on life:

Life is a gift.

Considering how my life has turned out in this world, I should understand that better than most.  And perhaps I should be proclaiming and bearing witness more to that.  Life is a gift – that means there’s room for speaking on things like racial justice….but I should probably consider my volume and intensity when I do because some people can only handle so much.  It means I should focus on those moments where God uses me, where I get to do some amazing things and get to be with some amazing people.  As a good friend reminded me, “People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”

It also means that I’ll still be that guy who pushes and challenges people out of comfort zones.  I’ll still insist that we need a world where people need to live with integrity, humility, honesty, and with conviction.  We still need to be people who remain vigilant in a world where too often horrible things happen and go unnoticed.  I’ll insist we need to be people of great courage and character, committed to actually working for what matters rather than just talking about it. I’ll insist…..because life is a gift.

I don’t know where you might be with the state of things today, but a social media exile can be a good thing – it just can’t last forever.  At some point, you have to join the human race again.  That’s true for all of us….even this curmudgeon of a Lutheran Honeybadger.

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