Yesterday I did one of those gimmicky Facebook games – I am such a sucker for gimmicky Facebook games. This one promised to create a picture comprised of the words I use most often in my Facebook posts. Cool, I thought, sign me up!
So here are my results:
I didn’t think too much of it at first. I was pleased God got in there…that seemed important for a “Christian writer.” I did, however, find it a little frightening that He was competing neck and neck with “book” and “blog.” That didn’t seem quite right.
Brad made a cameo appearance in the bottom right corner – yay, Brad! — but Luther got equal billing. Freud would have a field day with that.
Overall, it could have been worse. I was a little worried that “suckbag” or “wine” was going to end up front and center on my word picture.
I was mildly entertained by the game. Until, that is, I began to see other people’s word pictures splattered all over Facebook.
My friend Lelia’s featured the word “God” so big it looked like a billboard. I mean, GOD was practically her only word!
Another friend’s looked like she had cherry-picked All The Best Words for her picture, which was squeezed to overflowing with descriptors like “love,” “family,” “joy,” “connection,” “Jesus,” “God,” “believe” and “grateful.” Was she reading the Beatitudes every day prior to posting on Facebook?
Another friend’s was all lighthearted and fun: “birthday,” “family,” “love,” “heart,” “music,” “Christmas.” Clearly she was reading a little too much Mary Engelbriet.
I clicked back to my picture, which suddenly looked a little sparse. This was the best I could do? These were my most-used words? “Girls,” “now,” “look,” “go,” “little,” “like”…What am I, a third grader?
I looked more closely and noticed something else. My words leaned heavily toward the self-absorbed.
I clicked back to my main feed and looked at some more of my friends’ and acquaintances’ word pictures:
“Love,” “people,” “good!”
“Hope,” “living,” “amazing,” “giving!”
“Happy,” “friends,” “best!”
Good grief! I have the worst words! I have the most juvenile, self-involved, self-absorbed, narcissistic words! I am a narcissist! Facebook has proved it!
There I was, my finger poised to delete my stupid Most Used Words on Facebook post from my timeline, full of shame and humiliation that my words weren’t fancy enough or Christian enough or love-thy-neighbor enough, when I stopped in my tracks.
This, my friends, is the insidious nature of social media. It fuels comparison. A click here, a click there, and before we even realize it, we’re assuming that everyone else has a prettier, more organized, more neighborly, more loving, more holy life. Social media paints a false picture of reality, and as a result, it tricks us, leaving us feeling empty, less-than and ashamed, like we don’t measure up and clearly never will.
Friends, what you post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter or pin on Pinterest or Scope on Periscope is not you. It may be a sliver of you. It may offer us a few insights into who you are and what you believe in and what you value and what you are thinking in that given moment on that given day, but it’s not a full picture of the flesh and blood unique and beautiful you that God made.
Not. Even. Close.
I almost believed it for a minute there. I almost believed that Facebook could define me based on the words I’ve used most in status updates over the past however-many-months. I almost believed that Facebook could define me period.
Luckily I remembered, at the very last second, that it’s how I live my life offline, not what I choose to post about it on social media, that defines who I am.
By the way, I tried to convince Brad to do the Most Used Words on Facebook. He refused. I think he was secretly afraid it would look like this: