I don’t really have 562 friends. It feels good to think that I do, but I don’t really. What I do have is something that has developed over the course of the past few years … all because of Facebook. It’s my love-hate relationship with the “like” button.
Honestly, when I post some new status or picture or blog post, no human could pry the phone out of my Kung Fu grip. I have to check responses … like, every two minutes. I never used to be THAT un-cool. As a matter of fact, I had an ultra-cool, take-me-or-leave-me kind of vibe before Facebook showed up with that blasted “like” button. The “like” factor is so strong now – so compelling – that it has caused me to actually delete posts that didn’t get a response within 10-15 minutes. The thoughts I posted that were interesting to me at first suddenly seem uninteresting or perhaps, I worry, offensive to someone. Worse yet, perhaps my friends read it and didn’t like it.
It is the ultimate false identity: the “liked” me. Granted, there is a certain goodness in keeping me on my toes in terms of what I say and how I say it. Too many folks on Facebook have no filter and ARE offensive … and of course they get their comments deleted or else their news hidden from everyone’s feed instead of being “liked.”
I call it a false identity because it is driven by validation from others. You know, any identity you build for yourself based on outside validation is fragile at best. It is very similar to the enmeshed identity that grows within some couples: you begin to do all the things that your significant other “likes” so that they will continue to validate and respond positively to you. Soon enough, you begin doing what you don’t want to do in order to keep being “liked.” Eventually, you know more of what your partner likes than what you like. The goal in that relationship is to be liked forever, but at what cost? The first clue that something is awry is the realization that you haven’t given much thought to doing or being what GOD likes.
One of the biggest challenges any of us face in our lifetime is the challenge of learning who we are as the image-bearers and children of God. My wish is that everyone might take enough time with God and with him- or herself to discover who it is you were created to become and then stay true to that identity. Allow God to transform you as you grow into it. So much of the identity we portray is manufactured by us and our drive to be “liked” by others. The funniest part is that other people most often like those they find to be true to themselves, whether that “self” conforms to cultural norms or not.
So, now do you see my dilemma? When I post this blog, I really want somebody to “like” it. At the same time, I really want readers to get the message whether you all like me or not. So when you click “like,” I will read it as a message delivery receipt and nothing more. Or, at least, that’s what I’ll try to do.