We all recognize, in varying degrees, the potential evils of Facebook – its addictive nature; the opportunities for flagrant self-promotion vis-à-vis loads of “selfies” and gratuitous oversharing; the persistent temptation to compare your real life to someone else’s happy Facebook fairytale life, where they are probably, as we speak, sipping margaritas on the beach (OF course they are); and, those persistent longings to feel included in every fun event ever planned…by anyone…anywhere (even if we are already having our own fun event and wouldn’t have even known about someone else’s fun event except for…dun…dun…dun…FACEBOOK)!!
But instead of regressing emotionally and reducing our lives to a teenage soap-opera (as we have all been there), I am wondering if we can gain something from Facebook besides information on school closings and the occasional lucid mommy blog post (guilty as charged!). Imperfect things, after all, are often the best vehicles for teaching important lessons (such as the discipline of focusing on the good verses dwelling on the bad). And what is that adage? “Use your *insert Facebook* powers for good, not for evil.”
Case in point:
1. Facebook makes me painfully aware of my struggle with envy. Envy strikes all of us for different reasons. But it highlights a deficit in the heart of the one who is envious, not the one being envied. So what if someone has something I don’t have! This isn’t a race or a competition. We are all on our own journeys. Even if Facebook life imitated real life (which it doesn’t), could I still be okay with someone else’s life looking better and shinier than mine? Can I CHOOSE to be happy for someone instead of resentful or jealous? Yes, I can! And what a great opportunity to surrender those feelings to the Lord, take a deep breath and practice graciousness.
2. Facebook teaches me to keep (more of) my opinions in check. Do I need to engage in every debate on Facebook even though I am an opinionated person by nature? No. Have I learned this the hard way? Yes. Do I still sometimes choose to engage when I should probably remain silent? Nnnnn…okay, YES. Do I sometimes regret that? Uh-huh. But, as in life, we make choices we can’t always take back (even with a delete option). So we own them. We say sorry when we need to. And we move on (hopefully learning from our mistakes).
3. Facebook can help me get over the need to be included in every social group or invited to every party. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t occasionally feel that twinge of being left out. But if I don’t work on overcoming my need to be accepted and included by everyone all the time, I will always be susceptible to it. Really, life is NOT about being part of the “in crowd” anymore. People well into adulthood who are still making it about that, to the exclusion of others, are just broadcasting their own insecurities with a bullhorn. Then again some people are just having fun posting photos and not considering that one or more of their 576 friends could feel left out.
Who knows! Maybe someday, after we have worn out our need to publish everything about our lives (guilty as charged), it will all become far too gauche. Then we will once again return to tiny, private soirees where no photography is permitted. Of course, there will still be opportunities to feel left out. And then we will truly just need to GET…OVER…IT. (See #1)
4. In addition to being a great avenue for promoting businesses, non-profits, important causes and positive thoughts, Facebook is also a great way to bless others. Bear with me for a minute. (I can hear audible sighs from the critics.) Facebook CAN BE a great opportunity to see people you don’t normally text or email and encourage them in some way – with a kind word, with an article or picture you tag. It sounds silly, but for a stay-at-home mom like me who wrestles with loneliness from time to time, it really MAKES MY DAY when someone does that for me! This requires a less ego-centric approach to Facebook, but it uses social media in the best way possible–to bless others.
This morning, I woke feeling encouraged. Really encouraged. And I actually had a moment to get on Facebook while my son played independently. What I found was an opportunity. I found people who, yeh, let their feelings hang out there. But thankfully, because I knew how they were feeling, I could share some of my encouragement with them. When my cup runneth over, someone else’s might be almost empty. What a joy it is to help fill someone else’s cup! And maybe I’m not perfect at this, but that’s where you live and learn and let grace fill in the gaps.
While Facebook can cause great angst, it’s gonna’ be around for a while. So why not make the most of it!?!