I think we can apply the familiar maxim to Facebook: don’t take Facebook too seriously – Facebook already takes itself too seriously. Over the past few months, I have given a lot of thought to my involvement with Facebook, and particularly to the question of whether I should stay or leave. In frustration, I have threatened to leave and urged others to consider doing the same. I have opened accounts with Parler and with MeWe. I haven’t opened anything with Gaab, but that’s only because… well, I just haven’t. I have raged against the censorship, against the glaring double-standard, against the obvious bias of the medium. I have chuckled wryly (that is a thing, you know) as I scrolled through old posts of mine to see shadow-ban screens covering select posts. My favorite warning screen, which appears on several of my more recent posts, warns of inappropriate or explicit content. I found myself trying to remember what it was I posted that Facebook might consider to be “partial nudity.” If you are curious, just scroll through my old posts. You’ll be shocked to discover what passes for sexually explicit content these days.
The big question is, do I stay or do I go. Ultimately, I have decided to stay for now. And since I like to get a little mileage out of these decisions, I thought I would share my thoughts on it with you, the reading audience. Notice that I said “reading” audience, not the “glancing” audience or the “skimming” audience. How ‘bout we slow down that scrolling, swiping, and/or surfing for a minute so you can see for yourself.
Here are five reasons why I’m not leaving Facebook YET, followed by a few rules for my fellow rebels who stay with me. I’m not leaving Facebook…
Because I don’t have to.
And you can’t make me. Neener, neener, neener. So there.
Seriously though, I don’t think it speaks well of us that we let ourselves be chased off these platforms by the bully tactics of the left. I for one prefer to keep the “fake-checkers” busy.
Look, I get it if you are frustrated by Facebook’s “community standards” and arbitrary deplatforming of conservatives and Christians. I won’t criticize you if you leave. But I’m staying.
Full disclosure: our church has used Facebook for live streaming. In the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a new platform for live streaming our services that will be accessible through our church website. As I understand it, services will still be broadcast over Facebook for a few minutes and will then direct the viewer to continue from the website. So, we won’t be entirely removed from Facebook, but Facebook will no longer be the medium for broadcasting. We are taking this step for a very practical reason: we don’t wish to be dependent on Facebook. We think it is inevitable that Facebook will de-platform us, and we don’t want to be left scrambling when that happens.
In all good conscience, I believe that we need to ensure that our relationship with Facebook is not one of dependency. It is one thing to engage in the conversation. I’m staying so I can do that. It is quite another to rely on Facebook.
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. (Proverbs 25:19)
Because Facebook is a medium, not a way of life.
Again, I would urge perspective. The advancement of technology has provided us with a wealth of platforms and mediums for broadcasting our message. That is what we are discussing here. For too many, Facebook has become a way of life. If you live on Facebook, you should probably get back to real life.
Think of Facebook as a bulletin board. The bulletin board has some really great features, and a lot of people can look at it at one time. But at the end of the day, it is still a bulletin board. Feel free to post stuff on it. The hall monitor might take some of your stuff off. The little old Bitties in the Ministry of Information might rap your knuckles for posting unapproved opinions. And some of you might be banned from using their corkboard and stickpins. Still, the bulletin board provides a service, and as long as we can, I think we should keep posting good stuff there.
But don’t spend your day hanging around the bulletin board. Stop by once in a while to see what else is going on, but don’t obsess about who is looking at your stuff.
I have made the casual observation that my wife’s stuff gets a lot more attention than mine. Maybe you noticed that we have a joint Facebook account. She posts more and interacts more than I do on Facebook. When a post gets a lot of interaction, you can take it to the bank that she put it up.
I chalk that up to my wonkish personality – what people have affectionately described as fifty shades of vanilla. I am the classic “bland leader of the bland.” Its okay, really. I’m not trying to prime the pump here. I’m very comfortable in my skin.
I will point out, however, that a certain kind of post is almost certain to get more attention than others. A number of years ago, I blogged at Jackhammer with Kent Brandenburg and Jeff Voegtlin. We had a great time, and for a while, we built up quite the head of steam over there. I stopped blogging because, frankly, it became an obsession for me. I loved making waves, and the bigger the waves, the more attention we got. It was a vicious cycle, because the more attention we got, the more I tried to build up a tidal wave.
I needed the break from blogging, if for no other reason than to restore my own sanity. My son described my activity on the Internet as me walking through the forest tossing lighted matches at random. When I started blogging over here at The Village Smithy, I made an agreement with my wife that I wouldn’t try to start forest fires any more. I put in place some measures for accountability, and embarked on a new approach to blogging – aiming for value rather than provocation. So far, so good.
But I have also noticed that when you don’t breathe fire, people don’t read you. Not too long ago, a pastor posted a rebuke on Facebook of those who talk politics all the time and have little of spiritual value to say. I understand the sentiment. But the truth is, we scroll past the spiritual stuff. I’m as guilty of it as the next guy.
For an example, I have been posting a series of articles on joy. The reception of those articles has been pedestrian at best. Perhaps we could chalk that up to the pedestrian writing. Let’s say that is the issue. The same author (Yours Truly) has written other articles that were off the charts – readers in the thousands. And that is no exaggeration. What articles get read that much? Well, I’m pretty sure my most popular post ever was the one I wrote last summer about our family’s COVID experience. A close second were two articles I wrote on contemporary worship (thanks to a little help from David Cloud). More recently, my article on Martin Luther King, Jr. got a lot of attention as well.
What is the point? We read what interests us. And forest fires interest us. Does that mean we aren’t interested in spiritual things? I don’t think so. I blame it on the medium. If we drive by the city park and notice an orchestra playing in the gazebo, we will probably think that is really neat that an orchestra is playing in the gazebo. We’ll look at it as we drive by. But if we drive by the city park and someone is shooting off fireworks, we will pull over to watch. That’s what we call human nature.
Keep Facebook in perspective.
Because Facebook doesn’t shape my opinion.
If Facebook shapes your opinion, shame on you. If Facebook is your primary source of news and information, double shame. Boo! Shame! Boo!
The Internet provides us with plenty of options when it comes to news and information. Facebook isn’t the only thing. I have tried to promote the services of Real Clear Politics in the past, which offers a variety of articles from a variety of perspectives every morning and every evening. It really is a great way to keep yourself informed. You have the opportunity to read articles you agree with and articles you disagree with. But at least you aren’t being herded.
Our opinions shouldn’t be shaped by the things we read on the Internet, or in books for that matter. Our opinions should be shaped by the eternal, unchangeable Word of God. The things we read should be filtered through the lens of Scripture, so that our opinions resemble more closely a faithful application of Scripture to current events.
Facebook is one avenue for news and information. News services and sites are another. Blogging isn’t totally dead yet (but don’t look at my stats for confirmation). Our reading and scrolling tends to fall into familiar patterns, similar to the way we drive. We all tend to drive one street more than others. Some of that is convenience, some habit. But once in a while, we really ought to take a different route, if for no other reason than curiosity (aka nosiness).
Because Facebook provides a platform, and it is still one of the biggest.
Speaking of my blog, the vast majority of traffic comes from Facebook. And it isn’t even close. While I’m not encouraged by this fact, I don’t think my blog would die if I left Facebook either. I’m pretty sure my aunts will still read my stuff whether I’m on Facebook or not. And since the two other people who visit my site regularly would probably come without Facebook, I’ll not worry about it too much.
But enough about me. I’ve checked into other social networks, and frankly, they feel like you are trying to get traction in wet clay. Facebook feels like sprinting, and MeWe feels like a sack race. I hope some of these other social media platforms can catch up and figure this out soon. But in the meantime, I’d rather use the billboard on the Freeway than the billboard at the end of the dead end street. Put it where people can see it!
Because I prefer to get kicked off than to run away.
Maybe that’s just me. Think of it as my own personal vendetta. But once in a while, a little healthy rebellion is good for the soul. If you don’t find yourself in Facebook jail once in a while, you aren’t trying.
My kids and I really enjoy The Great Escape. We especially love the soldier’s stated commitment to escaping from the prison. In particular, we love Steve McQueen’s character, who finds himself in isolation over and over again. It was a point of dignity for those men that they were fighting the war, even when they were in prison. It would be good, I think, if more of us took that approach.
With that said, let’s consider…
Some rules for using Facebook:
- Don’t post things just because you can.
You don’t have a quota to reach. You aren’t shown to be intelligent by your much speaking. It is fine for you to share your thoughts on Facebook. But don’t feel obligated to share your whole mind. Save some for later.
2. Be reasonably sure that you are posting the truth.
Nobody is helped by phony news stories. Like it or not, America is inundated with misinformation and disinformation. As Christians are called to love the truth, make sure you are posting the truth. It is best to take an extra day to ensure that your opinion is informed and justified than to fly off the handle and add to the flow of garbage on the Internet.
3. Don’t be a coward.
If you are thinking about posting something, but you’re afraid to post it because you think it might put you in Facebook jail, stick it up there, man! Either that, or think about deleting your Facebook account altogether.
Times like these call for courage, not cowards. Be bold. Speak the truth in love. Don’t pander. Don’t compromise. And don’t be afraid to contradict the secular narrative.
Along those lines, we really need to give more attention to refuting Critical Race Theory, social justice, and Black Lives Matter. When you see a Cyclops, you really ought to be poking it in the eye.
4. Don’t be a crank.
Some folks can really get to cranking out the crankiness. Don’t be Lake Marah. Lighten up a little there, sparky. Try to offer some cream and sugar with your coffee.
5. Do be a Christian.
Someone asked me whether it was wise for Christians to be on Facebook. As he explained it, when they start coming for Christians, won’t they use Facebook to find us? My answer was, when they start coming for Christians, I’ll be upset if they pass me by.
What a great opportunity we have to shine as lights in the world on platforms like Facebook. As long as we can, I think we should.
6. Keep things in perspective.
I said this already.
Okay, I’ll say it again. Any one of us leaving Facebook is like Aesop’s gnat flying away from the bull’s horn. As the gnat said when he flew away, “you will probably be relieved that I’m not sitting on your horn any more.” To which the bull replied, “I hadn’t even noticed.”
Look, Facebook would certainly be impacted if they lost half their users in a few months time. Maybe they would go away, like MySpace. Maybe another social media giant would take their place. Or maybe not. Either way, it won’t make the world a better place.
Only one thing can make our world a better place, and that is the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. They waxed worse before Facebook, and they will after. Boycotting Facebook doesn’t deliver us from evil.
7. Laugh a lot.
What Facebook needs is an army of jolly Christian soldiers. And one great void that needs filling on Facebook is a wholescale mockery of secularism and all its minions. Mocking the enemy is an act of war, and we really need more warriors to find their javelins.
In this, our Lord Jesus Christ provides the very best example. He loved to poke fun at the ever-pompous Pharisees and all their rules, rules, rules. If you don’t recognize the spirit of the Pharisees in Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, AOC, Black Lives Matter, and all the SJW’s around, you aren’t paying attention. These are the new Puritans, currently re-prosecuting the Salem Witch Trials. When doing battle with them, we really need to use language they understand. Mock them. Ridicule them.
Isaiah’s vivid depiction of the daughters of Zion primping themselves and “mincing as they go” provides an excellent template for this most serious business. Your contempt of the world is a virtuous thing.
So, when will I leave Facebook? When they carry me out on a stretcher. Unless Facebook winds up on the stretcher first.