I recently had a couple conversations with some old friends who I hardly ever see anymore. We talked (and argued) about life and ministry and politics and current events. The conversation lasted well into the night. At the end of the conversation, I began to realize something. The view these friends have of me is rather skewed.
They came to the conversation with a lot of biases about me. And a lot of judgment. And a lot of assumptions. And a lot of walls.
I was forced to ask the question: Where did they get such bold ideas about who I am?
I knew the answer but didn’t want to acknowledge it. So I talked to Allyssa about it.
She was quick to answer: “It’s because of what you post on Facebook.”
I argued with her about it before finally submitting. It’s true. They had gained a lot of preconceived ideas about who I am, what I believe, and what I stand up for based on what I post on Facebook.
There was a lot of news around the Cambridge Analytica scandal. How could they know so much about us? What right do they have? Well, friends, there’s a different scandal happening: your friends are building their own database about you. They are deciding things about you based on what you post. Friends you never see, think they know you. And because they think they know you, they might never actually get to know you.
Ponder that for a second.
Facebook connects digital profiles of people and by doing so puts up barriers between real people. When we meet face to face with someone, we already have a very skewed perspective about who they are. And while there could have been a chance for a real relationship, the polarization that happens on Facebook makes it nearly impossible.
Sadly, I’ve seen this happen in my own life at a growing rate.
While we currently sit in front of each other, we’ve already become enemies, and couldn’t be further apart. Did we become enemies based on our real, face-to-face conversation? No. We became enemies online, and it’s made real relationships impossible.
This is bad.
Now, there is good that can come from Facebook and specifically from posting a lot of politically-charged posts. I believe good can come from it: It can give voice to the outsider, and increase the confidence of those who already agree with you.
Allyssa and I argued about whether the good outweighed the bad. She is becoming convinced that the good does not outweigh the bad. I’m not convinced either way. Yet, the question has been raised.
So let me take a step back and start with what I am convinced of: I’m addicted to it.
I have an unhealthy relationship with Facebook and with my phone. I justify this unhealthy relationship because of the “good” I’m able to do using it. I convince myself it’s necessary for growing a new church and meeting new people. I assume the addiction is justified because of the good it accomplishes.
But now that the question has been raised, and I’m not sure, one way or another, whether the good outweighs the bad or the other way around… whatever it is… I can no longer use it as a reliable justification.
So I’m leaving Facebook.
At least until January 2019. Maybe longer, depending on how this experiment goes.
I will still be on Instagram, posting occasional photos of Finn (@joeccm).
And I will still be online right here, on my blog.
Instead of posting random articles and quotes, I’m forcing myself to reflect more deeply and write more cohesive thoughts. I will be doing this here at http://www.joegraves.org.
If you’d like to hear my thoughts on theology and current events, and even the occasional politically-charged article, I’d encourage you to follow me here. My goal is to take everything I want to post online, and put it into a folder as potential prompts for articles. I should have more prompts than I have time to write, but by doing this, I’m forcing myself to not share without thinking, an exercise we all could benefit from.
And more than any of that, I will still be alive. I’m not going anywhere, I just want to invest in the people in front of me: my wife, my child, and our growing church. So if you want to hang out, let me know.