I did it. After vowing off of Facebook because on balance its effect was more negative than positive, and then staying off it for 3 years or so, Kirsten and I came back on- together on one account- for the sake of interaction with our local community of faith and relatives who aren’t nearby. I promised myself I wouldn’t get drawn in to the mostly pointless debates Facebook is so infamous for, but I failed to keep that promise today. I participated in a thread dealing with justice for the poor, among other things, and having done so I feel…almost dirty, somehow tainted. The primary antagonist to the majority of voices on this thread, including my own, was unsurprisingly unswayed by anything we had to say; nor were we convinced by his “arguments.” I hate that I did this, but I’m almost grateful for the experience, as it solidified my belief that such debates are mostly pointless at best and toxic and damaging at worst. I suspect if Amos 5:21-24 were written today, it might go something like this:
I hate, I despise your Facebook posts;
your tweets are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me good intentions and halting steps,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice charity donations,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your voicemails to your congressperson!
I will not listen to the music of your protest songs.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Of course I would never say that every Facebook post or tweet is necessarily useless. I think such tools can be useful for staying connected with loved ones, for providing information and organization within an affinity group, for fundraising perhaps, and in places where speech is otherwise suppressed. That said, social media is ill-suited as a vehicle for “real” news or as a platform for serious debate. Worse, I think it’s a tremendous distraction from the real work of loving the neighbors right in front of our faces and making sure that our faces are positioned in proximity to those on the margins of society.
Now I just need to post this to social media in a craven attempt at clicks, likes, and follows, but I do so knowingly and with a hint of irony; so that’s okay.