I’m a FaceBook novice. I’ve actually had an FB page for a few years; but it pretty much languished most of that time – my immediate family and a couple buddies my only “friends.” Then this past October a fellow author and advisor suggested that FB was one vehicle to get more exposure for my written works – and I came out of the closet. Barely five months into FB, I count my “friends” in the multiple dozens, not the hundreds or even thousands that some of my acquaintances have.
As I spent more time in FB, I was surprised to discover that most people communicate in one-liners. I found that unusual; especially since, unlike twitter, it doesn’t seem to have a character limit. Oh, they may attach a personal picture, a humorous video or a document from a professional or ministerial website that conveys their own heart-felt feelings about a subject; still few seem to have much to say beyond that. I guess that’s why most reviewers respond only with a “like” checkmark or their own one-liner, which amounts to little more than a LoL or an affirmation of the original statement.
What interested me more though, is that, even with one-liners plus attachments, over a relatively short period of time I was able to see a person’s soul begin to emerge out of their daily posts. And in that short time, I found FB becoming less of a tool for me to get “exposure,” as had been suggested by my compadre, than a window into the human soul. In five months I think I’ve become pretty adept at reading between the lines of one-liners to identify when something significant is going on in a person’s life, and he or she needs to be lifted up in prayer and/or encouraged.
You might question, “How can you arrive at such interpretive positions based on so limited a sample size or brevity of words?” My response is that I have a statistical background – in a former profession, my employer used to spend millions of dollars to make improvements to a product based on as few as ten or twenty test units. “But we’re talking about human beings here??” Yep! We are! And that’s what makes it so special – but also so predictable. Mankind’s nature hasn’t changed appreciatively since he was created 6,000, or 10,000, or whatever years ago.
I feel fortunate to have a diverse company of FB friends – who represent a cross-section of this nation’s spiritual backgrounds and beliefs, political affiliations, economic status and social interests – and I love every one of them. Yet people are people – each with a soul (mind, will and emotions) – and I see each exposed every time I’m on FB. For a while that was about an hour every day – though I’ve backed off that frequency of late.
As a person’s character emerges, one usually sees a consistency in motive, attitude and mood – so that any significant variation stands out. I know that there are some interesting personality types who actually use FB to challenge others by making outrageous claims that they don’t adhere to personally – but even for these people a pattern usually emerges over time. I’m sure others have seen such patterns in my few posts and comments.
I feel honored when a “friend” specifically asks for me to join with them in praying for a need on behalf of a friend or family member; but I’m more amazed at how the Holy Spirit uses this secular tool to reveal the personal needs of people who don’t ask for and may not even know they need spiritual help. I’ve adopted FB as an extension of my ministry work – to encourage those who are going through a difficult time and in privately interceding for them. I encourage other Christians who are on FB, to think beyond the social media aspect. Be sensitive to your “friends” posts, and even to their comments to another’s posts; for a word of knowledge can come from the Spirit of God in unexpected ways.