As a child I’d often wondered how God would collate everything we’ve ever done and present it to us in a neat package on the last day.
And then Facebook came along.
But seriously. I received the “balloony” thing today, accompanied by a photo of me, congratulating me on my ten well spent years idling on Facebook.
We’re planning on a quiet dinner to celebrate it, just an hour or so together, me and Facebook – maybe two hours. Hey maybe six hours sitting on the couch just staring at each other – like we do so often.
It’s all a bit like being congratulated by your neighbours on getting a new (well, nearly new) car. Which my neighbour once did. All I did was buy the thing. The bloke getting the congratulations should be the used car salesman.
But I wonder what the ten years have shown me about myself? What would I want them to show me about myself?
Are my responses to people I disagree with more godly in those ten years? After all, maturity as a Christian over the course of a decade would be a pre-requisite would they not? Especially since I was only forty back then – still youngish – and now I am almost fifty-one. Surely I am a more sober-minded man able to keep his passions in check.
Is my time better spent? Moot point. If I’ve spent ten years on Facebook (I had a six month break in there somewhere), was that a productive use of time? Has my increased Facebook time – and it has increased – been to my spiritual detriment? Moot point again I guess!
What have my last ten years of prayerfulness been like? Has Facebook sucked away some of the meditative time I used to spend?
Do my photos and posts across those ten years reflect a more sober-minded, less self-focussed life?
Am I less sarcastic than I was ten years ago? Does my sarcasm over the ten years pose as wit in order to hide the sneer? Rhetorical question folks, not looking for an answer!
Without doubt Facebook has been a lot of fun too. I have loved seeing friends online who I no longer live in the same country as. Social media shrinks some huge gulfs.
And it creates others. There are doubtless some conversations I am ashamed of. And I have lost a friend or two. Like an actual friend.
I’ve certainly noticed over the ten years how partisan Facebook has allowed us to become. A bit like Amazon, which signals which other books you should buy based on the one you just bought. Which merely serves to confirm your biases.
Or maybe that partisanship is simply a reflection of what is happening out there in our increasingly fractured Western world. We’re spliced and diced into increasingly isolated pockets of thinking. And that’s only going to increase.
Whatever has happened in ten years, we’re no longer sanguine about Facebook and its hold over our lives, and its intention to direct our lives. It’s a corporate giant with its own political and social DNA that it tweaks and primps.
Facebook has lots its friendly “Oooh here’s a picture of a cat” feeling and has become the semi-malevolent Big Brother that many of us thought the government would become, but which the government has neither the focus, nor the intellect and longevity to become. Facebook won’t be thrown out of office any time soon in a surprise result.
And never mind what Facebook will look like in ten years time. What will the world look like? What will be permissible to say on Facebook? What will be considered outrageous? What will be deleted as beyond the pale?
Happy tenth anniversary on Facebook Stephen McAlpine. Let’s see how you spend the next ten years on social media.