Using Facebook to Use People
I got on Facebook one day last year and noticed that an acquaintance had posted a rant about a sensitive social issue. I was a little surprised – the status update, which was sure to offend a significant portion of the population, seemed unnecessarily caustic and over-the-top.
It didn’t matter to me what the point of the status update was; I was just put off by the person’s approach. But before I let offense creep in, a thought crossed my mind:
I wonder who that person is really talking to, who they’re really having a mental argument with. Do they have the courage to say it to that person’s face? Or do they just use Facebook as a tool to passively agressively speak their mind, hoping the other person will see it?
And then I started thinking about my own status updates. I wondered what it would look like if I communicated the unvarnished intent behind my own posts. Here’s what it might look like . . .
Instead of posting a nice photo of my wife and me and simply mentioning that we went on a date, my unfiltered version might read, “I went on a date with my gorgeous wife – and by the way, I’m looking pretty handsome in this photo myself, don’t you think?”
And instead of posting a status update in which I make a political point to no-one-in-particular, my unfiltered version might say, “Hey [insert the name of the person I was thinking of when I wrote it], your position is garbage, here’s why – and brace yourself, because you’re about to watch me get a bunch of likes for saying this.”
Just today, I posted a mild rant about parenting and then deleted it when I realized I was actually responding to a guy I met recently – I was saying the thing I didn’t have the courage to say to his face during our interaction.
That’s lame, because when I do that, I’m essentially using my Facebook friends to give me something (catharsis, affirmation, vindication, etc.) that I don’t have the guts to ask for directly.
If we’re going to confront people, let’s do it like big boys and girls. If we’re going to beg for compliments, let’s just beg for them. Time to “let [our] ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and [our] ‘No’ be ‘No,'” (Matthew 5:37) – that is, let’s say what we mean and mean what we say – even on social media.
I’m not saying we have to go around letting it all hang out – I’m just saying that if we don’t have the guts to say what we’re really trying to communicate, maybe we don’t need to say anything at all.