1.15.2011

Status Seeking


I remember once reading someone condemn Facebook for making it easy for people to cheat on their spouses by looking up, flirting with, and making plans with old flames. I found this sentiment laughable, since it’s obvious to me that the moral offender is the cheater, and not the mechanism for carrying out the cheating.

But I must confess that while I have not used Facebook to sin in that way, it is a source of stumbling for me in another way, and on an almost daily basis. My sin can be described in a number of ways, depending on how Christiany or high-falutin’ you want to be: keeping up the Joneses, covetousness, jealousy, envy, insecurity, poor self-image.

It happens when I read about others’ statuses and compare myself negatively with them. Someone’s photos and ravings about a great vacation in some exotic faraway locale make me feel bad that I haven’t gotten to do something fun like that. Someone doting on their kids’ piano playing or dance recitals makes me feel bad that I haven’t signed up my kids for anything like that. Someone sharing enthusiastically about a great political event or social cause or ministry success makes me feel bad that I don’t have time or energy or talent to accomplish in that way.

Maybe you’re not as insecure as I am, so you find the paragraph above to be pathetic and petty. Well, I admit it is pathetic and petty because I am pathetic and petty. Facebook didn’t make me that way; I take responsibility. But Facebook does facilitate me having my own little pity parties on an almost daily basis.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not castigating Facebook for this. Nor am I castigating others for flaunting their vacations or their kids or their achievements. I am just pointing out that, at least for me, the itch to not be satisfied with myself, and to instead be ever comparing myself with others, is easily scratched through Facebook and through the endless parading of others’ statuses before me.

Some people tell me they enjoy Facebook because it is a mindless escape for them, a time to turn off for a spell and just veg out. But for those of us who care about the condition of our souls, for whom such sins as envy and jealousy are lifelong struggles, I caution us not to tune out when we log on. For temptation lurks in such places and at such times, and we can be ensnared if we are not mindful.

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