A few weeks ago my seven year old daughter hacked into my Facebook account. I wasn't surprised that she was bright enough to achieve this, but I was disturbed that she knew my password. The night following the hacking I discovered several comments that she made under the guise of my profile. She commented on friends profiles, pictures, notes and status updates. Under one friend's status that read, "So and so is thankful for his wife of 15 years", my ever-honest child commented, "I'm glad you guys are happy because no one here is happy tonight." I was mortified to say the least.
The following day I discovered some recently posted pictures of a friend. These pictures were on my Facebook feed. I don't want to go into detail of what these were pictures of, but let's just say they were not appropriate for my daughter's eyes. As a matter of opinion, I don't feel they are appropriate for anyone's eyes. I don't know if she saw them. I hope not.
These pictures led me to ask...
why am I this person's Facebook buddy? Why exactly have I invited them into my digital reality and now allowed them to burn images into my mind and potentially my daughter's mind?
So, I un-friended.
Then, partially because I'm neurotic, I felt a pang of guilt. I became this person's friend out of nostalgia. They were a good friend to me in the past. I treasure the memories that we share. Nevertheless, we are both very different people now. I kept telling myself that I could somehow be a good influence or rekindle a long lost friendship. I think I was lying to myself.
Not everyone is like me. I'm conservative, fairly boring by our society's standards and I'm a Christian. These three things set me apart from the majority of Facebook users, I assume. I don't like labels. I really don't like it when people try to force me into a box or role or stereotype, but the fact is I've made the decision in my life to be a Christian. I don't want to hide that. I don't want to pretend that I haven't made that choice. I don't feel I should have to.
My Christianity sets me apart, but so does being a parent. I have standards to uphold not only to serve my chosen God, not only to protect myself, but also to protect my children from images and things that will harm them.
I was the kid in school who was so nerdy that I actually asked the question, "Seriously, why can't everyone get along?" I still don't understand social hierarchies. I rebel against them. I hate ignorant prejudices that hide behind political affiliations. I believe being a Christian is to love whoever, whenever, wherever...all the time...regardless. I will teach this to my children.
BUT, what I will not do is to teach my children to justify filling their mind with damaging content with the hope of a few nostalgic moments or the false assumption that typing the word "Christian" on your profile is all you must do to demonstrate your faith.
I still love my old friend. I hurt when I think of the choices that he/she makes with their life. I wish them the very best, but as much as I love them I can't bring what they sell into my home or my heart.
When I consider Jesus and the relational choices he made, the pang of guilt grows strong. Jesus spent his days with the Roman IRS, prostitutes, murderers, loud mouths, blue collar folk, and the educated elite. Jesus revealed no partiality. However, here is where the guilt ends. Jesus changed and challenged those around him. Each person that chose to follow Christ gave up their former preoccupations, otherwise they were left behind. If you doubt it see the passage the tells the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19.
I don't want to hide behind the farce of political correctness to justify harmful relationships or to silence my Christian faith. If I'm politically incorrect for un-friending someone...fine. I've said it before and I'll say it again...my allegiance and affiliation is to Christ and Christ alone. I want my standards to match his. Unfortunately, in order to do that I must make choices that might offend or hurt the feelings of old friends. I am willing to do that for Jesus and my kids.
I don't want to take Facebook so seriously that I fake myself into believing that I can have a profound influence on an old friend's spirituality by being a digital connection or sending them a birthday calendar invitation. I also don't want to downplay the importance of living out one's Christianity in every facet of life...even Facebook...even when it hurts.
Maybe the best way to have an impact on an old friend is to un-friend.