My first ever Facebook post: “in Pasadena, CA…this constant fantastic weather must get boring…” My research into my social media origins brought back fantastic memories of two great weeks spent at Fuller Seminary in their DMin program. Facebook was originally only open to people with college or university email accounts. It opened up to the public in September of 2006. I jumped on 9 months later, not knowing fully what to do with it. Browsing my first few posts was pretty hilarious. “Going to a soccer game”; “zzzzzzzzzz,” “flying back to Nashville,” etc. There were, more often than not, zero “likes” or responses. It was an empty space at first. From what I can tell, many of my first FB friends are still here and haven’t unfriended me because of my posts. It’s remarkable how FB has changed how we all interact with the world. There are parts of it that are disturbing: the proliferation of misinformation, hateful contextless interactions with strangers; the acceptance of non-stop marketing as norm…I could go on.
But, I still land on the side of the optimist. I’ve been able to renew relationships from all my past lives (family, hometown, high school, college, seminary, previous jobs, past towns). I’ve watched former students start families, I ‘ve seen their children go off to college, marry, and start their families. Rich, deep conversations often develop with people I know well as well as with people I’ve only just met. I couldn’t begin to put a value on these things. I’ve considered dropping off for all the reasons many of you have considered leaving. But I would miss the community. For every crazy story or troll, I’ve found I have multiple dearly loved friends with whom I discover so many shared beautiful things in common.
William Nicholson’s play, Shadowlands, has a beautiful line delivered by the C. S. Lewis character: “We read to know we’re not alone.” I think that’s why I continue to post on social media. I post to know I’m not alone. I recognize that there are times I have contributed my own sour notes to the din of dissonant social media noise populating my feed and yours. However, I also hope to add some melody…some harmony. I hope that the sum of my social media life would fall on that side of the ledger. And I hope that you will remain online. This community is extraordinary. My life would be poorer without it. And I don’t want to be alone. (I wonder if my MySpace page is still out there in the ether?)