September 29, 2011
Facebook’s transforming platform is a fascinating window into the soul of our culture.
First a disclaimer: natives in the jungles of Borneo know more about social networking than me. The youngest members of our team do most of the posting and maintenance of our Facebook page. My interest this morning centers on this question: why is the largest social networking site in the world changing its platform so significantly?
We’ll soon see “Timeline,” a profile that will encourage us to post content predating our time on the social network. My entire life would appear in chronological order, telling my story to the world. We’ll also be able to add apps that publish content automatically to these timelines. In this way others will know what we’re reading, watching, or listening to.
Here’s my question: why would anyone care? I prefer classical music, while Janet knows every word on the Doobie Brothers’ Greatest Hits album–does this information advance humanity? We’re fighting in Afghanistan while struggling with global economic challenges–my opinion of Kung Fu Panda 2 seems somewhat irrelevant.
Why are social media such a dominant force in our lives today? I think it’s because we feel so detached and fragmented. We’ve never been busier or more stressed. Mother Teresa called loneliness “the leprosy of the Western world.” Anything that makes us feel attached to others will help meet our deep need for community.
God knows how we feel. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have dwelt in community before time began. Jesus could pray for us “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21). Theologians refer to this doctrine of Trinitarian relations and love as “perichoresis” (“to contain around”). It means that our Creator lives in community and created us to do the same. Our need to connect with others is part of our God-given nature.
But there’s a catch. To relate well to each other, we must first relate well to him. As usual, C. S. Lewis makes my point better than I can: “What God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality–the kind of creatures He intended us to be–creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add ‘and related to one another in a certain way,’ because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another” (Mere Christianity).
In connecting with each other, Facebook is good but faith is essential. Are all the spokes of your wheel attached to their Hub this morning?