Outside of work-related social media, on a personal level I consider myself the most casual user of Facebook, Twitter and all other social media platforms. Probably once a day I check my Facebook feed, and I always come away feeling guilty.
I feel guilty mainly because I seldom participate on Facebook, even as I worry that by not taking part, my eternal salvation might be at stake.
What I’m referring to are all those posts that say things like, “Jesus died for you – type ‘Amen’ if you agree.” I’ll usually notice hundreds or thousands or even millions of “Amens” following such posts.
I wrestle with that. I think, hey, I love Jesus, and yes, I believe he died for me. But is God watching these Facebook feeds? Am I going to stand before God on Judgment Day and hear him say, “Gary, never once did you type ‘Amen’ into a Facebook post to agree that Jesus died for you.” It’s very concerning.
The trouble is, once you start ”Amen-ing” all the posts that say things like, “Type ‘Amen’ if you love God,” what happens if you miss one? What if you type “Amen” into 99 similar posts, but you miss the 100th?
I don’t know what to do. And even aside from God’s opinion, I wonder if people I know are reading the names of all the people who typed “Amen,” and when they don’t see my name, are they just shaking their heads in disappointment?
It’s a lot easier to skip similar posts that don’t have such everlasting consequences. For instance, I have no trouble ignoring posts with pictures of President Trump that say things like, “Let’s make America great again! ‘Like’ if you agree!” I skip them because even though I agree, I’m just not a Facebook enthusiast, and it’s none of Facebook’s business whether I like something.
Then there are the posts that say things like, “This 9-year-old fell into a lake. You won’t believe what happened next!”
But Facebook won’t just tell you what happened next. If Facebook knew how to write news stories, it would say, “A 9-year-old who fell into a lake Monday morning was rescued by his dog and is expected to make a full recovery.”
But no, Facebook won’t do that. Facebook wants you to click on the post, which will then be followed by a video or a series of other posts that you have to watch until the very end, and sometimes even when you do it turns out not to be so spectacular after all, and you’ve just wasted five minutes that you could have spent making sure you’re not missing any posts about how much you love God.
Maybe newspapers like ours should do more to present their stories in ways almost guaranteed to make readers click on them. Maybe we should do posts that say things like, “You won’t believe what happened at Hillsboro City Council Monday night!” Or, “The Highland County Commissioners just made a decision that will change your life!” Or, “Mayor Drew Hastings just said something that will shock you!” Actually, I think we’ve done that one.
And then, of course, there are all the birthday feeds. Back in January I wrote about the mistake I made when I started to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday when Facebook decided to notify everyone that I had a birthday. Rookie mistake. I do click “Like” when I happen to see a post that it’s some friend or relative’s birthday, but again, I only check Facebook about once a day, so I feel guilty that I might be missing someone’s birthday.
Here’s one I saw recently – “Nurses are awesome – share if you agree!” I do agree that nurses are awesome. But I didn’t share it with anyone. Now what if I go to a doctor’s appointment or the emergency room, and some nurse recognizes me and thinks, “I don’t remember him sharing the post that nurses are awesome.” And then I get bad nursing care.
Then there are the ones that appeal to everyone’s patriotism. One that I’ve seen frequently, including Monday, says, “Half-naked girls can get thousands of likes and shares – how many can this one get?” followed by a picture of a female soldier in fatigues apparently on patrol in the Middle East. On Monday, the one I saw had 1.3 million “Likes” and 567,000 shares.
I haven’t compared it yet to the “Likes” and shares of the half-naked girls, but I’ll assume the post is correct. But either way, I can assure you that neither one of them will have “Likes” or shares from me. Does that make me unpatriotic? (I mean about the woman in uniform.)
Then there are the medical-related posts that are almost irresistible not to click to read more, because if you don’t your life might be in danger. Things like, “If you have this symptom, read this immediately!” And naturally, it shows a picture or gives a description of a symptom that I am now convinced I have. Thanks for ruining my day, Facebook!
But since I skip the “Amens” to show how much I love God, I figure it doesn’t matter if I have a symptom of something Facebook says I might have, because if I do have that symptom it just means I’ll end up standing before God sooner than later having to explain why I didn’t type “Amen” on any Facebook posts about how much I love God, which will be a lot more serious than what sent me to Judgment Day in the first place.
God is great. Type “Amen” if you agree – or come up with a good explanation why you didn’t!
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.