Unfriending Facebook in Three Not-So-Easy Steps

Oct 28, 2018

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Four clicks and done. The directions to delete a Facebook account seemed simple enough. But alas – by the third click, the plan was unraveling. Why? the Facebook folks wanted to know. A list of reasons were displayed. I quickly scanned them, then clicked on I spend too much time on it. Oh? How about we send less emails, those pesky Friend requests and reminders to post, to wish someone I haven’t seen in six years a happy birthday.

            No, that’s not enough I thought. I scanned further down.

            I don’t have any use for it. Yes! That’s true too!

A long detailed reply popped up suggesting I should be a better friend to my Friends. By now I was getting annoyed. This was supposed to be easy, clean.. instead it was turning into a sloppy break-up. I hovered above the Deactivate Account button and clicked. It’s over, Rover.

But…the word “Deactivate” was somehow unsettling to me, like when you tell the guy “maybe we can work things out down the road.” No, I wanted it over. I searched some more. Turns out there’s a difference between Deactivate and Delete. I wanted Delete. So I tried to sneak back onto my deactivated Facebook page and instantly a “Welcome back to Facebook!” message popped up in my email. AAARRGH!

When I was a child and we moved to a new neighborhood, I would set out to troll for friends. I’d knock on a door and ask, “Is there anyone here to play with me?” And usually, because it was the 60’s and every home had a minimum of four kids, the mom would yell,

“Susan? Cindy? Billy? There’s someone here for you! ” And an avalanche of raw energy would burst through the door, spilling out into the yard where we would play until the lightening bugs flickered on. It was pure and simple. We fought, we made up and fought again at least three times a day. We were friends.

I entered the world of FB about two months ago. I had launched a non-profit called Higher Ground Outreach and Facebook seemed like a logical platform for it. But I had to first start with a personal page, so I gingerly stepped into the world of Friends and Likes and Unfriends I’d heard so much about over the years.

“We’re Facebook friends,” someone would say to explain how they knew someone they didn’t really know.

“Oh.” It seemed a tad silly but I would be silent. I did not belong.

.           But here I was now, one of them. Instantly the friend requests came tumbling in, My first thought was: Where were you guys when I was in eighth grade? And I noticed that a lot of my friend requests were from men named Mohammed. Okay I had to do some weeding. Soon I was staring at photos of people I had known and loved who had disappeared or people I didn’t know well, at all, but now befriended me – I mean Friended me. It was an odd mix of joy (reconnecting with one of my favorite girls from our Pawtucket church), wonder (I saw a side of my little sister that was clever and hysterically funny) and then downright depressing. Friends I thought I knew were far from where I thought they were. I grieved the disappointment, but I couldn’t really even grieve because every emotion on Facebook is about two inches deep. Friends who once gathered in my home or around a fire pit, giving thanks and praise to the God who rescued us now seemed to be worshipping around a strange fire – money, little league, politics and position. Not bad things, but where’s Jesus? It reminded me of those Where’s Waldo books that challenged you to find Waldo in the midst of ridiculous chaos and confusion crammed into every page.

I’ve had to take a hard look at the busy-ness of my own life, the subtle nagging feeling I’ve had over the last few months that, despite doing “good” things, I am missing something so important, like the sleeping baby in the car seat. I felt justified in my good works. I even hung the Jesus sign on it. There! But I began to see the slippery slope. I was using His name to endorse my own will.

If Jesus came back and walked the earth again among us, I’m pretty sure He would pass on social media. He doesn’t need it. In fact His true friends were not many as it turned out, even though He told us, “I call you friend.” I think it’s because He wants us to follow Him, not the other way around. And He knew it would be hard, that many would walk away sad, like the rich young ruler. I wonder what that guy did next? I bet he bought something he didn’t need or maybe started a non-profit or a big charity. Yet in his heart, he must’ve known he missed it. But the scariest thing is, I think once we start to walk away, the cross gets smaller and smaller, until it’s not even on the horizon. You can still quote the Bible and bless the food, but your heart is stone again. “Come to me,” Jesus said. Not now, too busy. God help us.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:13-1

When I deleted my FB page, I had 335 friends. Not bad for a short time. But at least 325 of those friends were gained with a click and lost with another. “Life’s more fun when you live in the moment!” Snap Chat boasts. But are you really living life or posting the parts you want all of your “friends” to see? It’s hard to be in the moment with your phone in your hand.

How deep the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only son

To make a wretch His treasure

                      Come to me, Jesus calls. Friend. Stay awhile and rest. He will even give you real friends, maybe not a lot, but what you need. Bear one another’s burdens, He tells us. And when I can’t find just one, when no one will come out to play, He is there at the door, knocking, even after the fireflies come out at night. I just have to be able to hear Him, then go and open the door.