Sunday, November 27, 2016

Facebook killed my blog

Not that anyone was ever reading anyway.

When I became the pastor of First Baptist Church Lovejoy in January 2006, I decided to use blogger to create a website for the church, and began a personal blog at the same time. For a few years I posted very regularly on both sites. But then I discovered facebook, and then twitter. As I began to post on those social media platforms my blogs perished from neglect.

I'm no longer the pastor at Lovejoy, but I still own the blog that was (and is) their website. Tonight I took down all the dated posts, leaving just basic contact information for the church. I also deleted all the posts from my personal blog (this one). They were all extremely dated, and most were poorly written, as I'm sure this one will be. I'm full of opinions, but I'm not a great writer, and was never under any illusion that I was. I do have a huge desire to opine, and to receive feedback. That's why facebook sucked up all my attention, because I got the feedback for my writing there, no matter how bad, that I never got posting here. It became absolutely addictive to log in and see who had liked or commented on my posts. But like most addictions, it didn't bring real happiness. Getting a little feedback just made me want more feedback. And the reverse was often the case. Often I'd miss seeing posts from one of my facebook friends, and when I investigated, I'd discover that we were no longer friends, they had deleted me from their list.

It's absolutely silly to let that bother you. And usually I didn't let it bother me -- much. I read someone else saying that when someone deletes them, they block the person who deleted them. I thought that was a good idea. It wasn't trying to one up them, or take revenge, or anything like that. It's just that by blocking them, I didn't have to worry about seeing them commenting on the posts of people who were our mutual friends, and each time they did, remembering I didn't make the cut. Having blocked them, I seldom thought of them again, and it was never a big problem, until this week.

Thanksgiving day I realized I hadn't seen any post from a friend, so I checked his page and sure enough the "add friend" link was there, meaning we were no longer facebook friends. He wasn't the first who deleted me. He wasn't even in the first 20. But most people who had done so before had never been real friends, they were just acquaintances. They were people I'd gone to school or church with decades ago, but hadn't seen them since. This guy I went to church with just a few years ago, and we still live in the same town. We've shared meals in each other's homes, and even met up just a few years ago for a meal at a Chinese buffet. I thought we were real friends, not just facebook friends. I was deeply hurt. I texted and asked if it was something I'd done. I wanted to apologize if I'd offended him in some way. He said no, he was just thinning his list to family and fellow members of the military, it was nothing personal.  Well, when someone is "thinning their list" and you don't make the cut it feels VERY personal.  Add to that he had deleted me, but not my wife, and the thinning the list thing really didn't hold water. I was even more hurt, because I didn't believe him. I felt this Christian brother wasn't being honest with me, and that broke my heart too.

The whole thing has caused me to just want to get away from social media. I think, if I'm honest, it's brought more stress and grief than happiness. Russell Moore said in recent podcast that there was a study that showed facebook depressed people. I heard that podcast within just a few hours of losing this friend. I definitely related.

So, I won't say I'll never go back to facebook. I don't plan to, but never is a long time, and I don't want to say it and end up going back on it later. I don't want to be like celebrities who promise to leave the country if their candidate doesn't win, then won't go away. But if you haven't seen me there for a while, this is why. I'm just trying to see if I can be happier without it, because it's absolutely silly to let something like facebook ruin your Thanksgiving.