This year I’m thanking God for Facebook.
I know there is a holier-than-thou attitude out there that declares Facebook to be a waste of time and just one more means of pretending to be connected with people you don’t actually know.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no stranger to holier-than-thou attitudes. My goodness, I practically invented the genre: “Are you kidding me? You watch television? Your kids trick-or-treat? Wassamatta you?”
But consider that description: “one more means of pretending to be connected with people you don’t actually know.” At least for me, this isn’t true. In fact, it’s wildly inaccurate.
Here’s why: Chris. Chris is my sister’s brother-in-law, and, no, I can’t claim a decades-long friendship with Chris. I’ve met him only a couple of times in person. But through Facebook, I’ve interacted with him dozens of times, argued, connected, compromised, and learned some fascinating things. I’ve been challenged. I’ve been stunned.
Here’s another why: Joseph Prince. He’s a pastor in Singapore who preaches about Jesus as if He’s real, as if Grace is Grace, as if the Old Covenant isn’t in vogue anymore. What a thought! I heard about Joseph Prince on Facebook, because someone posted a little youtube clip about I John 1:9. Find it.
Not enough could be said about Brenda, a smart, beautiful woman I sort-of know in real life, but whom, because of Facebook, I now consider a very dear friend. I could meet her at Corona’s–I’ll have the pollo fundido–and I swear we would talk, laugh, and cry for hours. Without Facebook, I would not know Brenda at all. She would be someone I used to be acquainted with.
Brenda leads straight to Dan, without whom the last year and a half of my life has much much much less meaning. I can’t overestimate the influence this good man—whom I don’t “really” know—has had on me.
Because of Facebook, I know my kindergarten friend Gail, my high school friend Cheri, my Hemet friend Jill (long live Forest Lawn!), my writing friend Rebecca, my drummer friend Amanda, the wife-of-the-guy-in-art: now my friend Penny, Jen–the mom of a baby Brian cared for in the NICU, and on and on and on. Plus, of course Nancy and Tammie whom I actually know, and shoot, now I’ve started to list people, and there’s no good place to stop, so someone is bound to feel left-out and offended. If you’re on my friend list, you know who you are!!!
Not to mention my relatives: we’re not a large family, and we’re not all particularly close. We don’t hang out much. But on Facebook, I’m allowed to rejoice in my nieces’ and nephews’ changed relationship statuses, cheer their academic achievements, see immediate pictures of their newly-born and newly-adopted babies, enter into their struggles, their gigantic IKEA purchases, their new homes, their prayer requests, their marathons. Totally love all these people: Amy and Brandon, Rose and Winnie, Danny/Jenny, Aaron,/Emily, Drew/Monique and all their beautiful children.
Oh, and of course, my siblings, but I have to admit to being far more ga-ga over my nieces and nephews!
Moving on, I have to admit that without Facebook, no one would read this blog. I haven’t mastered, or even thought about the fine art of self-promotion. I’ve left the whole thing to chance, as it were: who reads it reads it. The joy I get from putting words on paper is only heightened by the joy I get from hearing that someone laughed at my review of Angelina Jolie in Salt or cried at my Thought on the Resurrection (see A Thought on Saturday Night).
(Never mind the fine art of self-promotion, I don’t even know the fine art of getting around my own web site. So go to the top up there and click on the tab that says “THOUGHTS” and hunt around until you find the Saturday Night one. Coming soon: a Thought on That Unsilent Night.)
Here’s something else: book recommendations. I don’t know how much money I’ve spent on Amazon.com because Facebook friends have posted recommendations. Bonhoeffer, War, If you have to cry, Go Outside, The Help, and on and on. All books that have intrigued me and enhanced my life.
And one more thing: encouragement. This year I had one of those hit-by-a-semi disasters. My world fell apart. My heart broke. It’s still bloody here, and I’m still adrift, awash, a mess. But enough Facebook friends have come alongside and said, Hang in there, be strong, Jesus cares, I love you. When the “real” people in my life have not necessarily said that, but have been more of the “told you so” variety, it has been nice to have the unreal (?) people extend grace.
So here’s the thing—whether the people in your life are “real” or “only on Facebook,” they are Imagebearers of the Most High God. Their prayers reach the Throne of God. Their encouragement brings peace. Their posts, comments, relationship updates, links, and likes enrich your days. I count my Facebook friends as precious.
Yes, I know, you get your book recommendations from real people, you see your “real” friends every day at work, your nieces and nephews are people you actually see, and so forth, but the point is that because of Facebook, I who stay home, study, and homeschool my boys can have these things too. And without putting on hose or make-up. Score.