Social Media Theology: Life Without the "Likes" (So Far)

With the Academy Awards last weekend came memories of past acceptance speeches. Roberto Begnini climbed over chairs and people to get to the stage, where he declared joyfully, "I already used up all of my English!" Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s exuberant speech still makes me think that he missed his calling as a preacher (I still shout "hallelujah!" when I see clips of it). Tom Hanks, in his win for "Philadelphia," paid tribute to the many who lost their battle with AIDS. Alfred Hitchcock just said "thank you."

No good montage of past speeches would be complete without Sally Field, clutching her Oscar and declaring, "You like me!" How many spoofs, jokes, and laughs have followed her genuine expression of gratitude.

I think one of the reasons we play and replay Field's speech at Oscar time is that we identify with it. We like to be "liked." We like to receive tangible evidence that people think highly of us and our work, whether it's an Oscar or just a "thank you" note. We like to receive approval and affirmation.

But what happens when we are more concerned with people liking us than we are with pleasing God?

What happens when we make decisions based on others' approval and not on what we believe to be best?

What happens when our need to be "liked" displaces our need to be true to ourselves?

We lose a bit of our authenticity.

We lose a bit of our genuineness.

We no longer enjoy that people approve of us. Instead, we need people to "really like" us.

Our sense of wholeness becomes dependent on some else's "thumbs up" to our work.

When I left Facebook last month and got a head-start on my Lenten "fast," I knew that the number of hits on this blog would decrease. With 500 "friends," I could count on people clicking on the link and sharing it. I wondered how I (and the blog) would fare without the "likes" of Facebook.

The truth is: I feel like I've been set free.

When I sit down to write without the distractions of social media in front of me, without a record of which posts received the most "likes," I can hear more clearly the gentle voice of the Spirit. I find myself personally seeking out other writers and readers to look at what I'm working on, both on & off the blog. The time once given to the "likes" of social media is now free for other activities. I have to be much more intentional about keeping in touch with people. I am discovering changes in priorities.

Two years ago, I blogged weekly about my Lenten discipline. Last year, I chose to keep the discipline & its insights only in my journal. This year, I will do a little of both. My hope for each of you is that you grow closer to the One who longs to draw closer to you over these 40 days. There are numerous books, periodicals, and resources available on the topic, especially from Upper Room Ministries. Please seek these out if needed. And as you seek Him.... may you find Him who waits patiently for us all to give him the time He's so graciously given to us.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian