Are You On Fakebook?
In twenty-plus years of following the Lord, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon in the church. I’m speaking of our “fakeness.” And we must like it very much, because we’re so good at it. I’m sure you’ve at least observed this, or been party to it. You know the drill—running late on a Sunday morning, trying to get the family to church: you unload with both barrels. Your shell-shocked family doesn’t know what hit them. Strangely enough, when you get to church, it’s all:
“How are you, brother so-and-so? Sister so-and-so?”
“Praise the Lord, brother, I’m great! This is a wonderful Lord’s day, isn’t it?”
“Why, it sure is. Isn’t Jesus grand?”
“So grand I don’t even have words.”
“Isn’t that the truth? See you in service.”
“See you in service.”
And so it goes.
Sadly, there’s great reason for this: experience has taught us that others don’t want us to be real. You may have witnessed, or been part of yourself, a conversation like the following:
“Happy Lord’s day, brother/sister so-and-so! How are you this fine day?”
“Not so great—Missy and I had a fight this morning.”
“Oh, is that so? Well, er, um, uh… I think I see my little Johnny throttling Miss Baker, the Sunday school teacher. Nice talking to you. Gotta run.” And so it goes.
Unfortunately, there’s a great pressure in the church to appear like we’ve got it all together, that things are going well, our kids are behaving, that walking with Jesus always makes everything better in the here-and-now. After all, what would the pastor think of us? (We forget that “in this world you will have tribulation.” Not a promise that we like to claim, but it’s there nonetheless).
At some point, the “fakeness” becomes ingrained, second nature—so we take it online. To the first church of fakeness: Fakebook. I’m sure you’ve been there. If you’re a Christian at all, then it’s got to be one of your favorite places on the Internet. Wanna connect with old friends? Fakebook. School buddies? Fakebook. Wanna know how the pastor spent his day off? Fakebook. But for goodness’ sake don’t forget the unwritten rule: thou shalt not be “real.” You can’t forget that one: it’s the cardinal rule of not just Fakebook, but all of our relationships. But I’m sure you—just as I have—in a moment of weakness, when, you know, life was pressing down on you, you lifted the veil, dropped your mask for a moment, got real, and posted your struggles online for your friends to see. And what did you get in return? Silence. So quiet in fact that you could hear the sound of your kid’s navel-gazing from downstairs. What gives? People don’t know what to do with reality, are intimidated by it. In contrast, try the following: post something trivial, stupid, goofy—something that doesn’t really get to the heart of who you are—and watch all the friends you haven’t spoken to, or seen in five years, come out of the woodwork to share their scintillating wit. I have seen this time-and-time-again. It’s because Fakebook is a microcosm of our plasticity—symptom of our inability to be real in our churches, or in our real lives. Fakebook: a place for lying to friends. A place of pseudo-community. If you want honesty, try Squeaker instead—I hear it’s far easier to be honest with strangers there (the “Squeakstream”is laden with all kinds of confessions) than it is with friends on Fakebook.
I’ll leave you with this: are you on Fakebook?