One of the latest “you must copy and paste this NOW” memes to make the Facebook rounds says something to the effect that the person posting is going to trim his/her friendship list to the “real” friends, i.e., those who actually read their posts. In order to prove that one is a “real” friend, the readers are instructed to “like” the post and then to cut and paste it and put it in their own status.
On Sunday, February 14, 2016, I saw three several of those posts. I responded to a couple of them explaining why I don’t do the “like/cut and paste” thing.
But finally my own frustration took over. I posted this on my timeline:
Since I have seen three of these already today I am just going to say this: if I have to “like” and “copy and paste” some post in order to prove that I am someone’s true friend and actually read their posts, there is not much of a friendship to begin with. Just not gonna happen.
Very quickly the “likes” and comments started rolling in agreeing with what I had written. Clearly I had hit a nerve. As one person put it, this is “friendship bullying.”
Precisely. It is analogous to the “if you love me, you will . . . ” statement that has led to trouble for many a person.
Saturday night, I had the privilege of being the wedding celebrant for a lovely couple. In my homily, I reminded them of the glorious words from the Love Chapter in the Bible:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NRSV).
Love does not insist that someone else “like” a post or type “AMEN”, as do so many FB demands, particularly ones that define friendship or, even better, define what a good Christian looks like.
Love doesn’t get excited when something evil happens, as do so many posters on FB when something bad happens to the political candidate or religious group they happen to oppose or dislike.
Love doesn’t arrogantly say, “I’m right and if you want to be right, you’d better agree with me” as do so many self-righteous posters, particularly Christians, on FB.
Love doesn’t get resentful, which so many FB posts that insist you “like” them appear to do.
Love believes all things, even believing enough to respect the different points of view expressed by various FB friends. Don’t see that too often, particularly on posts dealing with either political or religious issues.
Love endures all things. So I guess it even endures the endless bullying of the “LIKE ME” or “TYPE AMEN” posts. But it doesn’t mean I have to do what they ask.
I like Facebook. I see it as analogous to the back-fence that used to link neighbors to one another. It’s a place to go to check in with people, do a quick “how are you?” and “what’s up with the family?” and then get on with life.
On occasion, it can serve as a lazy morning over a cup of coffee or a long evening with a glass of wine, dealing with more complex issues of life.
It’s a way to recognize that we are not alone in this vast universe.
It helps pass on word of urgent issues, of escaping prisoners, of wildfires and floods, of electric outages and car problems.
It’s a place to celebrate some really good things and to commiserate over the bad things that inevitably take place. We can announce babies, or far more likely for my friends, grandbabies and even great-grandbabies. We can talk about vacations, post photos of projects and hobbies, and care for one another in gentle and tender ways. We can ask for prayers and emotional support in our moments of despair.
All these are good things.
We can also use it to bully, tear down, spew hatred and prejudice, expose our ignorance, and make “take-no-prisoners” statements.
We get to decide. And I, personally, will not be bullied. I will not define someone else’s Christianity by my own prejudices and decisions. These are my choices.
Someone wants to do those–well, that’s their choice. Best of luck to them.