Facebook Isn’t The Problem, People Are

August 20, 2012 — 9 Comments


If you have used Facebook for any amount of time it is possible you may have experienced some, erm, unhelpful emotions as a result of seeing everyone’s fabulous lives played out before your eyes.

Those holiday pics, the oh-so-perfect-marriage, the new job/house/car etc. All those status updates can leave you feeling just a little bit left out, a teeny bit unsatisfied.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about some of the issues surrounding Facebook:

For many, Facebook is less about looking up friends than it is about looking at friends.

The comparisons begin. Additionally, Facebook and other social media can quickly grow your ‘friends’ way beyond the amount of people you’d actually see regularly.

Rather than a way of catching up, Facebook can be one more way of keeping up. What’s worse is that now we feel the need to keep up not just with our closest friends and neighbours, but with hundreds of others whose manufactured updates continually remind us of how glorious life should be. (TDD)

Now hooked into playing keep up with an ever expanding group of aquaintances it’s all too easy to assume that the feed in Facebook is the new social norm. Those updates became our reality.

Most twentysomethings … treat Facebook images and posts from their peers as real. We don’t recognise that most everyone is keeping their troubles hidden. (TDD)

So, away with Facebook! Be done with social media and all will be put right! Or will it? What if, actually, Facebook is just the electronic stage on which we extend the games we play in the “real” world? Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French mathematician and philosopher says this:

We are not satisfied with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being: we want to lead an imaginary life in the minds of other people, and so we make an effort to impress. We constantly strive to embellish and preserve our imaginary being, and neglect the real one.

Pascal continues:

And if we are calm, or generous, or loyal we are anxious to let it be known so that we can bind these virtues to our other being, and would rather detach them from our real selves to unite them with the other. We would happily be cowards if that gained us the reputation of being brave. What a clear sign of the nothingness of our own being not to be satisfied with one without the other, and to exchange one frequently for the other!

From Blaise Pascal Pensées

Facebook isn’t the problem, but it sure does highlight something ugly about our hearts, something that we try to suppress, deny, and look the other way from.

We can search high and low, online and and off, to taste satisfaction but ultimately it’s only find in one person: Jesus. We can follow all the paths of this world to their end – searching for love, happiness, wealth, success – and arrive at the destination only to realise they really don’t fulfil. And having exhausted every option we can think of we are haunted by an unmet desire, an appetite that can not be nourished from the riches of this world.

At this point it is C. S. Lewis who says it best,

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.

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Jonathan Sherwin

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Jonathan likes to write on the church, philosophy, culture and the mix of all three. A graduate of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, Jonathan lives and works in Oxford. You can find him on Google.
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  • http://twitter.com/long_chris Chris Long

    mate! good article. Agree very much with what you are saying. Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.jonathansherwin.net/ Jonathan Sherwin

      Thanks Chris. Appreciate your comment.

  • chelshank

    so good! love the pascal quote! this is right on and i needed to read it.

    • http://www.jonathansherwin.net/ Jonathan Sherwin

      Thanks Chelsea. It’s a gem of a quote from Pascal, isn’t it? He hits the nail on the head!

  • Maria

    Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://www.jonathansherwin.net/ Jonathan Sherwin

      Thanks Maria!

  • Sarah

    Well said! :)

    • http://www.jonathansherwin.net/ Jonathan Sherwin

      Thanks Sarah – appreciate it.

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