Platform: an opportunity to voice one’s views or initiate action.
I’m guilty of it. Many of us are guilty of it. We use our social media accounts to try to persuade others, get our viewpoints out there or get our blow horn out to tell folks what they need to do. Actually, my entire blog is a platform of sorts I suppose as well.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as my Facebook feed has been driving me bonkers (mind you, I started this blog post in September before all the recent ISIS events, immigration, Donald Trump, etc). Facebook must have changed its settings lately because everyone’s like or comment on public pages is being pushed to my feed. So in addition to people posting their own stuff, plus the likes and comments on public pages, my feed is crammed with all kinds of things including political viewpoints, gay pride stuff, anti-gay stuff, pro-life/pro-choice stuff, religious stuff, anti-religious stuff. The pictures of my family, cute babies and old people are lost in the mix. Quite frankly, I’m not even seeing half of the stuff I’d like to see I’m realizing… it doesn’t even show up on my feed to begin with. Which means that the picture I posted of me hugging it out with Pope Francis didn’t make it to your feed either.
When we all first started Facebooking, it was fun to see pictures of old high school friends with their now families and babies and whatnot… or from distant relatives… or to sneak a peak at a new friend to try and see who their family members are and that sort of thing. Now not only do we know that our friend’s house is blue, her husband has brown hair and their first child wears glasses, we also know that she is going to vote for Donald Trump and she likes her Confederate flag.
I guess Facebook is allowing us to do our own kind of profiling, doesn’t it? We can size someone up and shove them in a box super fast simply based on the pages they like, the sports teams they follow and the political status they reveal on their page (no one has ever asked me what my political status “People’s Front of Judea” means. I don’t assume many know the reference, but if you do you are a rockstar.).
Back to the platform thing… I was the worst. When I started reading about the Bilderberg group and “The Creature from Jekyll Island” I wanted to tell the world about what I was learning about. Yet, what I learned from that exercise is that people will only believe what they are willing to so you’re usually just wasting precious emotions and time. The same is true for religious issues. And vaccinations. And water pollution. People who “get” my viewpoint, get it. Those that don’t, don’t. This goes for whatever the topic is at hand… if you are adamantly FOR the flu vaccine and want to ensure that I vaccinate my children or shame me because I didn’t, how is this bettering my relationship with you?
So, I’m a victim of your platform and you are of mine. I suppose that if I get tired of hearing about your platform I could just “unfollow” you but still be friends. It would help my feed but then when you post a picture of your adorable dog I won’t see that either.
Facebook has replaced news outlets (I know because I haven’t watched the news in years and yet I know about all kinds of horrible crimes because ya’ll can’t help yourself) and good old fashioned phone calls to catch up (why do I need to talk to you? I saw that you bleached your hair purple and you visited your mom the other day and you ate sushi for breakfast, you weirdo).
Facebook (social media in general) is increasingly replacing human interaction. I noticed it at one of my children’s soccer practice… parents were sitting in the bleachers with their noses in their phones, half talking to each other and half looking at the glow of the screens. I’m not a doomsday end of times person but for the love what in the world is going on with society?!
So, what do we do about all of this?
I honestly have no blasted idea. Twice this month I was part of debates on Facebook… one for sticking my nose on someone’s post I thought had gone a little too far and the other for defending one of my own (which I thought was actually light hearted-ish… I don’t ruffle too easy). By nature I’m a peacemaker so when things go awry I am completely out of my comfort zone… which may be good for me. I need practice outside of my comfort zone.
But all of this (especially as we near the presidential election and continue to deal with ISIS and the repercussions of that) has made me want to revisit this little thing (it’s not that little):
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Having a platform, and we ALL have one in social media, does provide us with an opportunity to receive and live out the fruits of the spirit. Yet, we cannot do this if we feel the need to be in power and control. We aren’t living it out if we are taking stands saying someone (or a group of people) is out and out wrong. This statement transcends political parties, religious affiliations and other issues like gay rights and immigration. As Richard Rohr wrote, “When we lead with our judgments, we can’t see correctly. When we lead with our fear, we can’t see correctly.”
By leading with a calculating mind we will never get to love… and if we don’t get to the love then we won’t see God.
I’ve written about it before – With God Comes All Goodness.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
Let’s not forget what Facebook started off being for us. Let’s not forget why we signed up. We didn’t sign up five or more years ago to do push our agendas on people. We signed up because we wanted to connect. What is happening on Facebook, for the most part, is NOT connection. Let’s reconnect. Let’s be funny. Let’s share funny quips. Let’s be engaged, NOT addicted.
I know we can do this.