A while ago, I was online chatting with an old college friend who suddenly sent me a message saying that I have “a beautiful life.” (Note: This was written in my dialect, so the English translation may not do the expression full justice.) My first response was that of surprise. A few seconds later, I found my fingers back on the keyboard typing the words “Thank you”, followed by “Praise God for what He has given me!”
While I am truly grateful to the Lord for what He has blessed me with, and where He has brought me from, I was sincerely humbled by my friend’s compliment. His statement left me wondering: What made him say that my life is beautiful? We had only exchanged a couple of pleasantries and two or three broken sentences about where we are now and what we are doing. The few minutes we spent chatting were, to me, not enough to reach a conclusion that the other person had a “beautiful life.”
As I continued surfing the net with my index finger clicking on links, I suddenly stopped at my Facebook wall. Pictures of smiling me against the background of stunning sceneries flooded my wall. I saw my status updates—quotes from books I have read, exciting statements about my day’s activities, and outbursts of love for my significant other.
It quickly hit me.
Looking at my wall makes one think I have a beautiful life.
The pictures, the updates, and everything else portray a nearly perfect life. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Though everything I have posted on my Facebook wall is not a lie, it doesn’t represent the entirety of my existence. It is not the complete picture of my work, family, and identity. It only shows a fragment of the real me.
Facebook has become a notorious space for us in the online world to display our lives in pictures, videos, and words. We upload and share our best moments on our walls. We get to show the part of our lives that we choose to highlight, which is, without question, our finest.
What my Facebook friends do not know is:
- I would never write statuses announcing to the world that I just had an argument with my loved one. As great as our relationship is—we are very blessed to have each other and love each other very much— it is not without its challenges.
- I would never upload a picture of myself after a major crying session over something I am struggling with or something that upset me. As much as I know that Jesus loves me, I am not without insecurities or low times. I am not perfect.
Very few people get to peek into the whole picture of my life, and the Facebook world is certainly not included in that. While Facebook is an excellent tool for networking with people we’ve crossed paths with at one point in our lives or another, it brings with it the subtle and very risky temptation to pit our lives against others through their profiles. It is easy to get lured into the practice of comparing ourselves with others as we look at their photos of exotic travels and picture perfect family. We quickly conclude that their lives are better than ours. I know I am not immune to this. But let our hearts be reminded of what Proverbs states in 14:30, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (ESV).
The peril of Facebook, if we are not careful, is that we start measuring our lives against what we see on other people’s walls. Facebook can easily escalate our battle against envy.
So before you click that link to your friend’s profile, be reminded that our security does not lie on the pictures, videos, or even words displayed on the Facebook walls. They do not tell everything. You and your friends are worth much more than can be contained in that miniscule space on the Internet. May we never reduce our worth to mere wall posts on a social media platform.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”— Psalm 139:14
Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
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