by Christine Sine
Over the last couple of months I have been hacked, harassed and abused on Facebook. Friends have asked me “how do you cope?” Facebook makes me laugh and cry. Sometimes I feel stretched beyond my comfort zones and hover over the “unfriend” button.
In spite of that I love my Facebook friends. I love that they hold diverse and often totally opposing views on politics, theology and what constitutes a spiritual discipline. This is the place where I hear different viewpoints, get pushback on what I believe and am challenged to think deeply about why I believe it. It would be so easy to dismiss those I disagree with and ignore their comments, yet I know that if I am only willing to listen to those who hold the same viewpoints that I do, I will stop growing and moving towards a deeper understanding of faith and of the world in which I live.
Facebook Is My Go to Resource Center
I am very grateful that these friends often point me towards reading material and resources I would otherwise not have discovered. Recently many responded to my question “What childlike characteristics make us fit for God’s kingdom?” Their comments helped me shape my upcoming book The Gift of Wonder and I am eternally grateful for their help.
This is in many ways is my strongest and most faithful learning community.
Facebook Connects Me to The World Around Me
Taking time to reflect on what my friends post and how they respond to what I post has become an important part of my life. Sometimes it connects me to suffering and heartache that would otherwise be hidden from me, like when Kostas Kotopoulos spend six weeks on the Greek island of Lesvos working with refugees from Syria and Iraq. His cry for tents to help house this steady stream of displaced people tugged at my heart, encouraging an immediate response.
At other times Facebook has invited friendships with people half a world away. Some of these people like Jenneth Grazer and Ana Lisa de Jong have become important parts of the Godspace writing community. Friends I may never meet yet still friends.
Facebook Helps Me Pray
What matters, I find is that I don’t just skim over the comments and responses to my postings. I am challenged to take everything seriously, to meditate on it as I would a verse of scripture or quote from a book I am reading. To pray over my own response and allow myself to be both stretched and changed by the sometimes uncomfortable conversations that result.
What Is Your Response?
How do you interact with your online communities? How seriously do you take the comments of those who disagree with you?
Do you allow Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to shape you and your ideas? If so in what ways?