The Death of Facebook

About three or four months ago, I got rid of my Facebook account.

It’s been a good couple of months.

I canceled my account because there was nothing about Facebook that was leading me towards Christ. I was wasting my time browsing people’s favorite quotes, judging people’s musical tastes and political views, and engaging in long-winded debates that were at times civil and beneficial, but more often than not robbed me of my inner peace.

It was time to get out.

Right before making the final decision to get off the ‘Book, somebody shared with me an interesting thought about the website that really clinched the decision for me. They said that one of their college professors declared that Facebook should change it’s name to Imagebook, since almost all of its users are not interested in showing others their real “face” but rather a carefully crafted image that they can’t live up to in reality.

I was definitely in that boat.

I spent forever deciding who I would declare as my favorite bands and authors because I wanted people to think I was smart and well-rounded and hip. I would take long pauses in my day to think of how I could most cleverly share a random event or idea with the world because I wanted people to think I was funny. Many hours were wasted perusing the pictures people posted of me, at first because I wanted to make sure nothing on there would get me fired, but later because I wanted to make sure whoever looked at them would think I was fascinating and unique.

But I’m not any of those things. Not really. I’m not that smart or well-rounded or hip or funny or fascinating or unique. In real life, my wife hates the way I tell stories because they’re never really as humorous as I make them out to be. In real life, my students make fun of the words I use and references I make because they are now officially out of date. In real life, I actually do like Kelly Clarkson and The Zac Brown Band and the Harry Potter books, even though I would never ever ever put those things on my favorites on Facebook.

This desire to control who we are is one of pride. This pride revealed to me my insecurities and my fears, showed me what I wanted to hide from people and why, and put before my eyes the truly pathetic need I have for people to acknowledge me.

I recently heard this quote from Peter Kreeft: “We live in the most polytheistic culture in history. We worship 300 million gods and goddesses.”

I wanted worship. I wanted to be a god.

I am not a god. I am not worthy of adoration or praise. None of us are. But what we have inside of us is. The fact that the Spirit lives within us makes us greater than the deities of mythology. The fact that we can consume, literally, the Body of the Man-God is a privilege not even the angels have. The hope we have of eternal perfection is a day-dream the pagans couldn’t even begin to imagine. We are beautiful and good and the pinnacle of creation; but we are that only because of the love God gives us, not because of anything we do on our own.

I lost sight of that when I started worshipping the idol of my Image. But I’m starting to see right again.

There are more virtuous people than I who can and should use social media to stay connected with people and share ideas and art with good intentions and ease. But I’m not one of them.

If you’re in the same boat as me, maybe consider adding a Facebook fast to your Lenten mortifications. If you’re not, say hi to the virtual world for me. I hope everyone’s off to a good start with purifying their hearts this Lent, of dying to yourself as we wait in hope for the rising of Easter.

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11 Responses to The Death of Facebook

  1. Pingback: The Death of Catholicism…

  2. For some people, there is truth to what you write.

    But on the other side of the coin, I find Facebook to be a good tool for ongoing evangelization and catechesis and for bringing the Good News to those who might not see it or hear it at all in the course of their day and also for those who want to be continually strengthened in their faith.

    We never know who God might touch with his Spirit and grace, through our continued planting of the seed….

    • Rakhi says:

      I completely agree, Deacon Don! I probably fall somewhere in between, but I believe social media is a powerful tool in the new evangelization, especially having worked in ministry to young adults. Many won’t read or pick up scripture or the writings of the saints, or engage in a face to face conversation about their beliefs. While some will hide behind the potential for anonymity to act in ugly ways, many are more open to no holds barred conversations about their faith or obstacles to it. Great point, though, that we must know ourselves and our temptations and intentions before signing on to such a task.

  3. stickman says:

    Yes! My experience with facebook was much the same. And I suspect there are a few more people.

    Deacon – you may be quite successful in using facebook for evangelization, but I suspect there are things I’d need to work on before I could be. Like shedding my anonymity. And my desire to hide my unpopular ‘likes’ instead of sharing my true interests. Like our friend “Death of Catholicism” I’m completely taken by the beauty of Catholicism, but I for one am still working on the courage to present that to those around me much less those with whom I have the slightest interaction via imagebook.

    • Stickman,

      Keep up the good work of trying! The first gift, which you have, is recognition of truth in self.

      Keep praying, keep seeking God’s wisdom and will for you… Knock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find! (… Or which of you, when your son asks for bread, would give him a stone? – How much more your Heavenly Father loves you!)

      Easter blessings and peace!

  4. Faith says:

    I gave up facebook last Advent. I couldn’t take the politics and the squabbling. I neglected my duties at home so I could sit and read through all my friends posts (only about 1/10 of which were actual friends that I cared about). For me it was not a good tool for evangelizing, but I admire those who can keep their head above the fray and do so. I could not. So instead I teach RE to the public school kids at my parish. I am much, much better at evangelizing that way!

  5. cougarfan75 says:

    Fantastic article. I deleted my account last week after 4+ years. This blog post nails EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling over the past year. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

  6. Fr Bob says:

    Here is an interesting companion to this article – http://catholicmoraltheology.com/leaning-in-versus-leaning-on/
    I also gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent. It was such a liberating experience. I went back to both at Easter with just this post, “He is risen! Alleluia!”

    In my diocese we priests have been encouraged to use social media for evangelization. I have been trying this for about a year. My concern is that I find Facebook to be a real time bandit. there is so much superficial nonsense on it every day. For an already “busy” priest I have yet to see the benefit. I’ll give it a little more time but have to wonder…

    Happy Easter to all!

  7. Dcn. Mark says:

    Many people argue that you stay on Facebook to Evangelize! I mean in principle, I would agree with that. The problem is, that it has become so massive, that people do not connect. So many people are on facebook, that less and less of what people post is seen. They have to set up algorithms to focus people’s news feeds on the stuff and people that may be the most interesting to them. If they are a nonbeliever, or non-practicing Catholic, they are already less interested in seeing your “preachy stuff” and don’t even have to unfriend you to be completely oblivious to your attempts to Evangelize.

    • Don H says:

      Hi Deacon Mark!

      I am not evangelizing to the world-wide Facebook audience as a whole, nor do I intend to. I have a select group of about 200 “friends” (non-practicing friends, family members, parishioners, friends and friend’s friends that I have met over time) and while I’m not sure how many see my posts, I do get responses with “likes,” from different people- to posted homilies, stories, pictures, etc, etc.

      Maybe it is important for us to remember that evangelization and catechesis is not a 1-time effort, but rather ongoing and unending. Any particular person might skip or not see a post one day, or for a week or a month, but then, there might be one moment, in the right place, at the right time where they are open to receive God’s message and their interest is peaked. Then, they might even be inspired as to save it or share it with a friend. “…it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” (Mk 4:26b-27)

      There are also regular Sunday Mass parishioners from the parish I serve at, that catch up on our Wednesday morning Communion Service homilies.

      I consider it a positive when I am able to help influence even one person to receive the Lord’s words into their heart for reflection, or when one person knows that someone will listen and pray with and for them.

      Let us remember St Anthony, who on finding that nobody would listen to him preach any longer, preached to the fish! Even with algorithms limiting who might see what I post, it isn’t going to stop me… from spreading the Lord’s Good News!

      Easter joy, blessings and peace!

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