Thursday, October 21, 2010

Equal Opportunity Offenders

As with most of my recent blog posts/notes, I’ve been stewing over this one and whether or not to post it for a few days now. Mostly because I want to make sure it’s as well-thought out as possible and not some ranting, overly emotional (read: whiny, obnoxious) drivel. I won’t lie; it’s also because I’m always a little timid about the response I might get. But I suppose I was not made to live in fear, right?

I wanna talk about Facebook a little bit…well, all social networking sites really. The two I use the most are Facebook and Twitter. I love them. I’m a social butterfly and I always have been, so sites like these are right up my alley. I get teased for it sometimes, but hey, I can own up to the fact that it’s more than a slight addiction. I like being extroverted and involved and, let’s face it, a little bit narcissistic and nosey. Come on, we all are, or else there wouldn’t be 4039815 tagged photos of us, right?

Lately, though, there seems to have been an undercurrent of frustration on my News Feed about what people are seeing on their News Feeds. People don’t want to see anything that disagrees too much with what they believe. Republicans don’t want to read about Obama, Democrats don’t want to hear about Glenn Beck. Athiests don’t want to read about the scriptures I read this morning and Christians don’t want to read an athiest’s post about there “not being any such thing as heaven or hell anyway, so why bother.”

(Station break to identify some irony: one of the pastors I follow on Twitter JUST posted this: “Don't ever get so shallow that everyone IN your life must see everything you DO in life.” Heh. However, I will continue this…)

I will admit that I have gotten extremely frustrated lately because while there is this general outcry of “Respect my beliefs!” I can’t help but think, “Really? But…you don’t respect mine.” That may seem petulant, but I’m serious. I’m asked to respect the beliefs (or in some cases lack of belief in anything) of other people, but I don’t feel like Christianity is respected at all.

I hate the “Grilled Cheezus” status updates, and the parodies of the Lord’s Prayer being used to ask God to please bring the Longhorns/Sooners a win or the Texas Rangers an ALCS Championship pennant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for the Rangers all the way, but that is called the Lord’s Prayer for a reason. It belongs to Him. It’s maddeningly irreverent. I know people’s intent is harmless, but it just makes me feel uncomfortable.

It seems more to me that what people are saying is “Respect what’s popular to believe,” or even “Respect what won’t rock the boat and cause dissension (read: 35 comments and subsequent notifications that will just annoy me on my Facebook app I have on my phone),” or worse: “Respect what won’t make me mad.”

Here’s the thing, though, that even I must admit: it’s Facebook. It’s a free country. I have the ability to hide or delete people, as they have the ability to hide or delete me. It usually takes a lot for me to hide someone and a lot more for me to go so far as to delete someone, because I can usually take a step back and discern what is just their thoughts/opinions/musings… and what they are saying just to force an opinion upon the world and/or to be blatantly offensive or stir the proverbial pot. It’s a fine, fine line, sure, but most of the people I’m friends with on Facebook are actually my friends in “real life,” too, so I can usually fairly accurately guess their intentions. I ask that they also do the same for me.

I will admit, humbly, that at the end of the day I don’t want people to just respect my beliefs. I genuinely want them to know the Lord and understand the peace I’ve come to find thanks to His grace…but I will never force-feed anyone my beliefs, because I could not do anything more detrimental to my ultimate desires than that. It’s my job and my responsibility to take a minute before I post anything and make sure I consider how my words will be interpreted.

So what is the solution? Well, I suppose that we all just need to take a minute and remember that Facebook and similar social networking sites are equal opportunity offenders. Nobody will ever believe exactly the same as another person, and as long as we have the abilities and the desire to put our thoughts and feelings out onto the World Wide Web, we will likely offend or hurt somebody…even when it is not our intention. Or, we could make individual decisions on what we decide to share, and whether or not the end result is worth our “right” to share it.

An extreme measure would be to just take a Facebook/Twitter hiatus…but I don’t think I quite have the will power to do that…yet. :-)