a bit monkish.
It began innocently enough. Like millions of others, I discovered a new way to stay connected with friends and family who were separated by miles. They called it The Facebook, a new social media platform designed for 18+ year olds. Photos and later short videos allowed users to share their lives with the world, or at least their ‘friends.” Since then, it has grown to be one of the most popular social media platforms in the world for people of all ages, and a primary means of staying connected with people.
With all the angry, partisan bickering, targeted advertising, and tracking of user data, Facebook has become a nuisance to me. In my mind, however, I can’t leave. It’s as if I’m in Facebook prison. So many of my friends and family post to Facebook that if I don’t check in regularly, I feel like I’m missing out in their lives. Without even realizing it, many of us have made Facebook such a part of our lives that it’s becoming as essential to us as owning a cell phone.
Facebook has become a major source of clutter in my life. I have a difficult time sifting through what’s important and what’s the equivalent of junk mail. In some ways I feel trapped, but I must reluctantly give Facebook credit for their masterful process of sucking me in and slowing making them a necessary part of my life. Well done, you sneaky social media giant.
Several years ago, the movie The Truman Show depicted a man born on television and raised by actors in a fictional town. Even the sky, rain, and sunshine were manufactured. He never knew that his parents, siblings, and best friends were paid actors on the ultimate reality television show, and that millions of people watched his every move. He could have left at any time, but he was raised to believe that life outside of his town was a fearful place. He was in a virtual prison and he didn’t even know it.
Like Truman, although we have the capacity to leave Facebook, many of us fear what life would be like if we left. Our profile posts, photos, comments, and “likes” allow the Facebook Masters to track our interests, travels, and opinions, and to know minute details about our lives. Yet, like Truman’s manufactured life, we keep living in a false understanding that Facebook is reality, when instead it has become a prison to many of us who understand ourselves through it’s false narrative.
I’ve locked myself into Facebook Prison, and I hold the key to freedom. However, if I freed myself I’d be out of the lives of all the other incarcerated souls, many of whom have no idea that they’re imprisoned, too.
Here's a solution: Maybe we should all connect on Twitter or Instagram.
And the cycle continues.
(c) 2017 Michael C. Voigts
I'm a follower of Christ serving as an Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary.