unfriending

He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. ~Ephesians 2:14

Toward the end of 2012, things got pretty heated in the world of social media. It wasn’t the first time, and it surely will not be the last. I’d be lying if I said some of what I saw didn’t ruffle my feathers and make me want to fire off a snarky response or a back-handed missive that highlighted the virtues of the other point of view. Sometimes, the devil’s advocate in me wanted to jump into the fray, simply for the benefit of having stirred the pot. By some miracle, however, I held my peace.

Peace, I thought, was the better goal. And so, I “hid” updates from my Facebook timeline and I stayed away from Twitter, hoping to insulate myself from opinions and points-of-view that didn’t jibe with mine. It worked. Each day, when I logged on to social media, I was met with an array of updates and links that made me smile, and validated my opinion of the world. Before I knew it, and without considering the implications, I had surrounded myself with people who thought like me, spoke like me, lived like me, and looked like me.

Overnight, my world became extremely small — shrunk down to one small choir and the people who were preaching to it. Or, to use a biblical example, one small ear, or hand, or nose, without the rest of the body to make it matter.

I don’t want to live small like that, with everyone around me smiling and saying, “Yes” no matter what. I don’t want to create a mono-tone community, where I don’t ever get to stretch my thinking. Or my faith. Or my courage. I don’t want to go through life always sitting at the table, or going to the church, or living in the neighborhood where everyone’s story has been painted with the same-colored brush as mine.

Peace doesn’t take the easy way out. Finger-pointing and daring you to cross my line in the sand are easy ways for me to build a wall that was torn down long ago. What if my quest for online (and real-life) peace wasn’t at all what Jesus had in mind? What if peace is more about staying at the table — with people whose ideas are different from mine — long enough to find God, right in the middle of it all?

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  1. 1

    Oh, friend! This. It’s remarkable worship at it’s finest. The choosing to See, Feel, Touch, Immerse . . . even when the world is just so biggish and the fear of lookatmeish rubs like sandpaper against all those wide ranging perspectives. But yes, I believe whole heartedly that He’s called us to *stay* right here. Right in the hub bub of community where different abounds. This is love. The willingness. It really is worship, I think.

    {Lord, bless this brave admittance, and thank you for the ways you show up through us.}

  2. 2

    I understand exactly what you mean Deidra and I’ve experienced the same thing pertaining to social media. Thank you for your insightful and godly perspective. I appreciate it. The Truth has set us free. Our prejudices build walls that Christ has torn down.
    http://www.writemomentswithgod.blogspot.com

  3. 3

    I understand exactly what you mean Deidra and I’ve experienced the same thing pertaining to social media. Thank you for your insightful and godly perspective. I appreciate it. The Truth has set us free. Our prejudices build walls that Christ has torn down.

  4. 4

    so true deidra….such a timely reminder. it is so easy to draw ourselves in and away from the world’s sharp edges. it makes me think of the need for hedges instead of walls. boundaries without shutting out completely. thank you! –kris

    • 5

      I really appreciate this word about hedges instead of walls. Boundaries are, indeed, important. Some relationships aren’t helpful at all. Some conversations do cross the line, that’s for sure. I pray for grace in the discernment process. Thanks for sharing these words of wisdom.

  5. 6

    Agree! I like my horizons broadened and enjoy hearing the whole choir, not just one note being sung over and over.

  6. 7

    Deidra. This is so good! It’s hard enough to have healthy, lasting relationships in person … but online, the whole social media thing?

    We can’t look each other in the eye, see the body language. We can’t reach out to take a weary hand, gently wipe away a tear, or give a reassuring hug. I’m left figuring out what’s not being said, wondering if the person on the other keyboard is hurt, frustrated, scared, or feeling disrespected. Are they feeling betrayed, excluded, abandoned?

    Talk about misunderstandings.

    And we’ll never truly know another’s heart because we’re not sitting across the table, face to face, where powerful, unwritten, unspoken communication ultimately takes place.

    And the counselor in me believes that therein lies the biggest challenge we face as we continue to wade our way through all that social media offers and decide how much of this is good for us to embrace, how much self-disclosure is wise, and what our relationships are going to look like in the years ahead …

    • 8

      Okay I am not one to respond but I feel led to today;
      I love what Deidra has to say, and it is true we do not need to shrink our world or isolate ourselves from all the things we don’t agree with.
      Linda your comment also resonates with me. I believe we need to use discernment on what we expose ourselves to in the social media world. Or how much we expose of ourselves. It definitely can be a double edge sword. These “friendships” can be deceiving and with out depth. Other peoples lives can seem to be wonderful. Or they seem much more popular because they always receive so many likes or comments on status updates. We can secretly begin to compare ourselves to others in a “virtual” sense. This can break down our self esteem if we allow it to take hold.
      For me I keep a low profile in the social media world and rely on face to face friendships. Even people I don’t necessarily agree with on everything.

      • 9

        Amy, thank you for these words about discernment and the double-edged sword. It’s true there are limits and lines that should not be crossed; and then there’s the whole comparison issue which you explain so well. Thanks for your contribution to this conversation. I’m glad you responded. :)

    • 10

      Thanks for this, Linda. I often wonder what the history books will say about the impact of social media on our world. I honestly believe it can be used for good — to build community, to establish and nurture meaningful friendships, to encourage one another along the way. And it’s true, it’s not at all like face-to-face. It IS a big challenge. As we continue to find our way in our online and real-life relationships, I hope I don’t dismiss people simply because that’s the easier thing for me to do. I hope that makes sense…

  7. 11

    These are really good questions. I used to unfriend. Now, I hide. I think I’ll have to grow in Jesus a little more before I’m able to read what all my “friends” have to say. I have this horrible tendency to police facebook. Even when I don’t give my two cents’ worth, I’m having arguments w/ people in my head. It’s terrible. I’ve come to realize–in part, through the blogosphere and fb–that I have some unresolved anger/frustration/hurt over the theology I was presented as a girl. Many of my fb friends are people who continue to live in that small community in which I was raised. They spout off (in a manner I’ve come to find unacceptable) the beliefs I’ve come to reject. It twists me all up inside. Hide, hide, hide. Because I like/love the people well enough; I just can’t take it anymore…especially w/o trying to share my new POV, which is nearly always rejected.

  8. 12

    LOVE it. Thank you for sharing this. I think also, ‘unfriending’ can be done to avoid certain people and/or situations that we really should be dealing with. I was recently ‘unfriended’ by some one (a friend in real life!) because she disagreed with a direction I was going in a certain area. We just didn’t feel the same. Instead of talking through it, she cut me off. And it HURT. A lot. Also, If you choose to stand apart, people will disagree. If you post about things they disagree with, a large handful of people will SAY something. They just can’t help it. There have been a few times when I’ve had to block or unfriend though… old/ex boyfriends, and people who post comments or images I wouldn’t want my children to see. ;) Be blessed! Cassandra @ The Unplugged Family

    • 13

      It does hurt. That feeling of being cut off is so painful. I wish that hadn’t happened to you, and I’m sorry that it did.

      I agree that there are some times where drawing a line is the right thing to do, just as you’ve suggested.

  9. 14

    Thank you Diedre for writing this piece and giving us all sorting to think about. It’s so on time! My favorite is where you say God may be found right in the middle of it. That really rings true to me. Bless you!!

  10. 16
    Susan Husa says:

    Oh my! In Bible Study I had a similar epiphany about a women’s group I am in the process of starting. I wrote in my notes, “We may not have women come that ‘look like us.’” I am thrilled to have this reality come to mind. The whole purpose is for me to bring women together. So your blog is relevant in that it gives me perspective to embrace all with a loving heart and with a peaceful mind to embrace all that participate which is the reason for the group. So this blog is timely and I appreciate your insight that you willingly share for the good of all in this body! Much love to you!

  11. 17

    Wow, Amen. Thank you writing so eloquently exactly what I need to hear. I love you so!

  12. 18

    YES! YES! YES! Thank you!!!

  13. 19
    Shirley says:

    Thank you.

  14. 20

    Thanks for this. I struggle a lot with this. I am tempted to block everyone who posts something offensive to my beliefs. I like my little world. But how am I going to share Jesus if I’m only surrounded by people who alreay know Him?

  15. 21

    Still here, Susta!

  16. 22

    Perfect LOVE drives out fear…

  17. 23

    I really keep my friends list small and my comments limited. Facebook can really hurt feelings. You can write down something meaningless and have it hurt someone’s feelings by how they feel when they read it. It’s so much better to take a few minutes and call or go see someone. You can at least hear the tone of their voice. I have heard to many people getting their feelings hurt by a meaningless comment or action. As well as intentional actions or words. It’s so easy to hide behind a keyboard. Example I have a daughter who lives out of town that got angry because I made a proud grandma remark about my granddaughter that lives here. She was angry because of the remark about the dress I made for her and that I was so proud of her. Her anger caused her to “unfriend” me. Her excuse was she was shrinking her friend list. She did it is now down from 395 to 394.

    No social media is not the answer. One on one is.

    Also I find that what people post is meaningless. Very rarely do posts reflect what they believe and feel.

    • 24

      D Rae, I’m so sorry your daughter unfriended you. I’m saying a prayer for you and for her, and for grace for us all as we each “find our way” in all of our relationships — online and face-to-face.

  18. 25

    I think this whole idea goes back to being “offended” too. We, as Christians, tend to feel we’re being righteous when we are “offended” by anything we see as ungodly. But when we turn our backs on all that is ungodly, how can we shine our light, the light of Jesus inside us, right in on someone’s dark situation?!! God is orchestrating all in our lives and as our lovely friend Ann Voskamp says, I’m facing this day “Open Handed”! The best of God’s blessings on you!

  19. 26

    Yes, I only hid people who were resorting to name calling, or allowed it, on their pages. I appreciate that I have friends across the spectrum whom are in my life for a reason. What I do not appreciate is bullying. I have held my tongue on many hot button issues, because I know tone does not come across well on the internet.

  20. 27

    Well this one hit home. I needed to read this today. I run all the time and I am trying to stop and hear what others are saying instead of complaining about what was said and how it was said. I am trying.

    Thank you :)

  21. 28

    I choose to surround myself in real life and in the virtual life with positive happy people. That is what I personally need.

    • 29

      I’m glad you said this, Lisa. It’s how I feel also. I don’t have perfect friends or perfect acquaintances because we’re all human and thereby, not perfect. That said, I try (try being the operative word) to remember the verse to think on whatsoever is lovely, noble, right, etc. Having “friends” on Facebook who are hateful, negative and inflammatory isn’t edifying and isn’t what I want in my life.

  22. 30
    Beth Williams says:

    I don’t do much social media. I have a facebook account that is used soley to keep up with family, friends and church events. I do have e-mail that is used to contact people and send witty and insightful information to friends.

    I much prefer to have my horizons broadened and truly get to know people deep down i their souls. Not a fan of the 1 note choir–all thinking my way. I want to know, feel and pray for you and your needs.

    God Bless! :)

  23. 31

    Good reminder. I’m not one to normally shrink back from a community of diverse viewpoints — quite the contrary — but to be honest, sometimes community just “hurts”, whether we think alike or not. I’m in that season now — tears every day — the pain of just feeling misunderstood and undesirable, with barely enough energy to try to engage even with those who are painted with the same brush, much less those who aren’t. It’s easy to shrink back so gradually that we don’t realize we’ve created a very small, isolated world. Exactly what the enemy of our souls wants. Thanks for the encouragement to press on…even when community hurts.

  24. 33

    You are exactly right! Stay at the ‘table’ – stay in the middle…stay in the friendship, stay in the marriage… As His Word says, “Live in harmony with one another…” and “therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace…” Easy for them to say… :) It’s not always easy doing the ‘right thing’, but when we know what we should do, He will give us strength to do it, when we ask.
    Thanks so much for these encouraging words!
    May He bless you with peace! :)
    Susan G.

  25. 34

    I want to shout an”Amen!” to this post! The easy way is usually the wrong way and it sure is in this arena as well. Surrounding ourselves with people who are exactly like us restricts our growth. Thank you for the reminder.

  26. 35

    Amen, Debra. We need sometimes – often times – to be challenged, even if we find we still think the way we do. Believe the way we do and so on. To look deeper at life and others searching for the same path really. Just in a different way. Great post.
    Blessings ~Debra

  27. 37

    “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Luke 12:51

  28. 38

    Deidra,
    I did the same thing with “hiding” comments. After I hid them, I sent a private message to my friends and let them know that I would need to remove them from my friend base if they continued to send hate-filled political views and opinions. I don’t mind the opinions, as long as they are not spewing hate. Hate kills the hater and those it is cast upon. So, I chose to say, “That is a no-no!” You know what? It worked for some and others continued spewing without my “sharing” help. Spewing is totally different than speaking “your truth.” We all have an individual “truth.” And another thing, Jesus loves all of us. We were made to have different views and opinions. But, we were not created to hate each other. That is a no-no! I have close friends that have different views than I hold. I love them and they love me. WOW! Isn’t that a novel idea?!! We agree to disagree. In this world, when satan is given an opening in which to spread discord and hate, he does it. We, as Christians, need to realize that our love for Jesus and each other, is stronger than our political views. It may be hard, but we have to do it, anyway. Who said it would be easy and peaceful? Nope! When we are involved with each other, there will always be disagreement and strife, but we have to rise above this. And, this is soooooo difficult! We have to take our thoughts and gossip to Jesus and He can clean our thoughts, hearts and deeds. Okay, stepping down from the podium. Blessings!

  29. 39

    It’s interesting how things/we evolve. I remember years ago messaging my daughter about her posts. They were in my mind inappropriate. She Unfriended me. We talked and she Refriended me. Then recently, I responded to something she said on Facebook that again I felt was inappropriate and said so. This time my daughter said, “I’m not Unfriending you, but if you’re offended by me, you can Unfriend me.” I felt there was a new measure of maturity there. We’ve been able to stay at the table despite our very different perspectives. And it is a broadening experience as we reach new levels of understanding…I hope it translates to all my relationships.

    • 40

      In my experience, social media relationships with my oldest child — especially as he’s get older —are the trickiest to navigate. I struggle with my relationship with my oldest child in real life, and on line. Your comment here really has me thinking. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story here.

  30. 41

    Great words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing. It is reassuring to know I am not in an island by myself and someone else has learned the same lesson.

  31. 42

    As always you coin what I feel in a most precise way – bless you. I keep away from the contentious arguments and comments and positngs by focusing on the life of Christ. I know it sounds religious but its not when we think of how he really lived, how he humbled himself, never defended himself. I reflect on the role of social media and how it cannot be a means for me to lash out in reactionary forms that will alienate those who Christ loves and died for. it is how I have been able to “bit my tounge, tame my fingers”. Bless you always Deidre and please don’t stop writing…….
    Stopping by for a moment out of my dissertation cave – Alba (formerly Momsquire).

  32. 45

    I agree. I know that we need to hear the voices, the varying voices. Ab.so.lutely. But I also think it’s OK to occasionally ignore all the voices trying to grab the spotlight, be provocative, make a statement, catch you off-guard, drill, drill, drill, … these voices that work too hard to get you to click over to their latest post on somethin’ a little edgy. Sometimes, quite honestly, I think it’s OK to hide the posts, as you did. I really don’t think that’s so bad from time to time.

    Good post, Deidra. You’ve got me pondering something that’s really been working on me for a couple months.

    • 46

      It’s tricky, isn’t it? And, I’m just sharing my story from where I sit. I think everyone’s got their own threshold, and we each need to do what we understand God to be asking of us. For me, I needed to face the fact that I was shutting out voices and invalidating their message, simply because it wasn’t the same as mine and it wasn’t easy for me to hear. I guess I needed to drop my stone and walk away, and that meant pressing through the discomfort from time to time…

  33. 47

    And you shouldn’t be afraid to state your opinion. Iron sharpens iron. Got into a lot of discussions or sometimes chose not to discuss depending upon how much time I had to get into a debate. Debate isn’t unfriendly discussion as long as you set some rules. It’s how I keep a safe place on my sites both personal and professional for people to discuss and share ideas. Only had to enforce it once.

  34. 48

    I think you and I are so different but I say we are friends and I know would enjoy each others company. I’m not religious but I get you and I gain so much insight from you. I’m not sure what I contribute in this except friendship but I love having friends with different opinions and interest….usually there is something common.

  35. 50
    Carolyn says:

    Fantastic! I could use words of encouragement everyday like the one you just posted. Thank you so much for sharing. Bless you and I printed this one to refer to again. Write more too.

  36. 51

    I am brain injured. It all became so complicated. I was only getting the tirade posts of people I barely knew. I wanted tidbits to pass on to my elderly mom in another town. If something is truly upsetting, stop. I used it as a tool to share Christ for several years and it did make a difference. But because of my type /place of brain injury I could not always get over it so to speak. I’m now off Facebook. God has used me now in person to talk for my faith in Jesus as my Savior and verses I quote to explain how I get through my days of tears and confusion and confinement. Doctors, waiters, people in bathrooms as I travel to appointments…it just happens…God will use us wherever He sees we can be used. Maybe Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Blogs or maybe in hospitals or doctors offices. My two doctors are not Christian. The one I shared a verse and how God used that verse…and the very last visit, I wept (part of my injury) oh but all this be worthwhile if you and your family accept Jesus and become Christians. We may think we are only surrounded by people like us but look around. The lady drawing your blood? The woman in the bathroom? The lady working in the department store? The customer service rep for a company? God will use us Facebook maybe. Or other ways, when we are willing…even when our brain and body are broken

  37. 52
    Susanne says:

    Wow! I’ve done that! I thought it was the only way to protect myself from the annoyances in the world. But you’re right. I’m closing myself off. There are some opinions I really don’t agree with but I can rise above those thoughts. They don’t rule me! I’m so glad I found someone else who thought that way too. Doesn’t make one feel so alone..

  38. 53

    I love what you have to say and have found myself in that place in regular life a few times. God always pulls me out of that place – right now I am surrounded by the world and all of its hopelessness – my time has come to be greatly challenged to live in the world but not be of it. It is so hard sometimes – not old temptations so much anymore but more not having like-minded friends and fellowship more often. Perhaps we all need times of strengthening and rest when we have peace and like-minded socialization for the more isolated times ahead. This world needs our light, a light that we can only wield with the strength of the Lord God Almighty.

  39. 54

    This is my heart too and you say it so well. Life is dull when we all look the same.

  40. 55
    Katie B says:

    Wow… Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for taking this stance and opening my eyes and being Jesus in this world.

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