When I preached “Tough Love in the Father’s House,” I wanted to take a side track on how social media shapes our idea of friendship, but I didn’t have time. The side track would have been relevant, since – according to the Bible – true friends confront one another in love. They speak truth into each other’s lives, even hard truth, truth we’d prefer not to hear, because that’s what friends do, they summon one another to be better than we’d otherwise be, offering correction and advice.
But what if my “friends” aren’t real? What if they’re faces on Facebook – virtually real, but not really real? How likely is it that they will speak anything that more triviality into my life? How likely is it that they will have anything more than a superficial knowledge of what’s going on in my heart? How would they know where I’m struggling with temptation, or when I’m succumbing? They may know fifty factoids about what I did this week, but do they know me and love me enough to confront me with Matthew 18-style tough love?
An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education says that Facebook trades in illusion – there they are all my friends, together, visible, all in the same place. Except that they’re not really in the same place, and they’re not really my friends. They’re “little dehydrated packets of images and information, no more my friends than a set of baseball cards is the New York Mets. . . .” And, the article suggests, this kid of “friendship” is well-suited to busy people who want friendship to be fun and friction-free.
Something to think about.
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