Facebook? Love it? Hate it?

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Posted on FB the first week I came home—the green, my happiness, Flash being Flash. Most of the time on FB I am trying to convey a moment. Why do you post on FB?

This blog post will be totally boring if you are not on Facebook or other social media, but around this block, a lot of us are Facebookers.   And I think some of us are struggling to define how to use it without getting used up. I for one hate conflict.  Hate it.  However:

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Human beings are built for conflict AND community. It’s who we are as children of God.

What do I like on Facebook?  I like posts of good writers I don’t know about. I like reading about Mississippi. I like it when I see somebody’s trip to a place I will never go or their new baby or grand-baby. I like keeping up with faraway friends and parishioners.  I like hilarious cat videos.  I like cartoons! The Facebookers I follow come from their own life experience and also run their Facebook page according to their own core values. I like  complex and tender posts, for our lives are complex and tender. With permission from the authors, here are some starting with a simple and tender example which happened just two days ago:

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  God bless Bitsy. Facebook helps people know about each other’s pain and joy.

On Wednesday, Dottie Miller wrote that she and Jamie lost their beloved Bitsy and that their pain was very deep. Friends called and wrote and facebooked and comforted.  They didn’t have to tell people one by one

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Sometimes we feel like the sea is so large and our boat is so small.  All of us lose; all of us mourn. Facebook can help some – not all – but some of us.

Also Facebook can help with gathering all points of view, with agreeable disagreement. Sam Buice is the priest in charge up at Grace-Calvary, Barbara Brown Taylor’s old stomping grounds and he is one of my favorite priests and an effective Facebook gospeler, Here he is pictured with some of his favorites – BBT, baptism, and his Harley!

Last month, I noticed Sam asking this question to his Facebook friends and he has a bunch: “Why currently are you upset? If you choose to respond to this post, I ask that you respond by talking about yourself. Say more about what is upsetting to you. Refrain from making assumptions or statements about the “others.” If you are posting to my page, I will feel free to delete comments that I deem accusing or hateful or not on point.”

Sam started by describing in civil terms the national issue (sudden refugee ban)  he is upset about and others described what they PERSONALLY were upset about from all different angles. He curated his post so that it did not become vicious or goofy, but it was quite diverse and enlightening. Never assume you know why others act, vote, speak the way they do.  And don’t assume that social media always separates us; sometimes we understand one another through social media, maybe for the first time.

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This photo is both true and false. We are isolated and connected through social media.

My own Facebook page is not an opinion forum, nor, please note, is it the parish page.   It is as I say below one of the public rooms of my heart.

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What is your Facebook page? Your personal page is one of your gifts to others. I have 1200 friends, many of whom I don’t know personally, but they like the theologians and other voices I curate. And I think they like Flash who is often featured! 

What I want to read and share is authentic life and thought and story, not riled up stuff.  Jerry Byrd gave me permission to share this very moving post about his twin brother who died three years ago.  Yes, Jerry is advocating for a particular issue, and he is doing it from the depths of his life.

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Twin brother Jim and flowers from sister.

Here is Jerry’s post from last week:

This is what death with dignity looks like. It came courtesy of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare is another name given it. The picture is my twin brother Jim in Hospice Atlanta. I took it on Jan. 30th, our birthday. That’s why there are flowers. My sister who lives in another city had sent them. I wanted her to see how pretty they were. Just 24 hours after I took this photo Jim would be dead. Today is the 3rd anniversary of his death.
Do not think that I post this for sympathy. Do not think I’d ever make the decision to post something this intimate lightly. Do not think I post this out of mourning. I do on a continual basis mourn my twin though. Why do I post this then? Because Jim would want that. I know this because no one knows a twin like his twin. Jim would want me to use this image to make the statement that society without health coverage for all is no society at all.
He died after fighting the spread of cancer for close to 3 years. At his diagnosis he didn’t have health insurance. It goes without saying that this pre-existing condition would have blocked him from having any health insurance. Try to imagine the trips to the emergency room without it when I’d have to take him there in the middle of the night due to the pain and infection and fever that his illness brought him. Try to imagine his rounds of chemotherapy without it. Try to imagine his many visits to the oncologist without it. Try to imagine hope without it. Try to imagine someone you love and consider irreplaceable finding themselves in a health crisis and unable to get health insurance. It could happen to anyone anytime.
Why do I post this then? I want you who might have similar stories to post those stories. I want you to give a face to the idea of healthcare as a fundamental human right. Our elected officials are debating whether some get health care and whether some do not. I post this to ask that you contact your elected officials and let them know that healthcare can’t be a luxury for just a few, not in a civil society.
Thank you Jerry.
Now Here are some important and timely words, versions of which  I have seen from a number of people lately:  “I posted a picture earlier today which I am not sure was a true representation of reality. I have removed it from my page and apologize to anybody who saw it.”
YES!! YAY!! People of all political persuasians are spotting FAKE NEWS (shows up from everywhere, sometimes called “click bait”) and taking it down.  People are curating their pages to reflect their lives! You don’t have to leave stuff on there you don’t want!
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What is your mission in life?
Finally Brian Barefield’s post from New Years Eve is literally lifegiving since he had very recently almost died of  a massive heart attack.  He moves me to my toes and gives us our marching orders. Here’s Brian:
Bear with me here as this is stream of consciousness and it’s long for me, but it’s New Year’s Eve… the conclusion to a very traumatic year for many, myself included.

This past week, I was able to take part in something that was new to me. While I work with trauma in aviation as a peer counselor, being on the opposite side of the proverbial table was a new experience. A dear friend who is a trauma specialist guided me through a unique trauma therapy session to help with mentally and emotionally processing all I went through during my heart attack. What I discovered was that the most traumatic experience of the entire ordeal was the sense of loneliness I experienced. By loneliness I mean deep existential loneliness full of dread. Not only was I facing the possible end of my career, I was, for all intents and purposes, staring death in the face. When I looked back on those 14 or so hours before they finally figured out what was going on my faith didn’t seem to inform that bleakness. All I felt was a terrible, hopeless solitude. Where was meaning in the experience?

What I have realized is that meaning was found in those who rushed to my side the moment they found out there was a problem. Meaning was found in those who cared, those who sacrificed their time and convenience to stop and just be there with me. People like Bob Tick, Ed O’Halloran, Pat Brown Bruce Garner, my father who dropped everything and drove 3 hours to be by my side that night, and my mother, who did the same early the next morning.

That terrible night when I would be awoken multiple times from my drug induced haze (administered by the hospital) by my heart turning somersaults in my chest in that dark ICU room, I would literally reach out looking for someone, anyone, for support, and there was always a hand of someone who cared that grabbed mine.

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In the emptiness of that solitude of experience, even there I was never really alone. My personal faith didn’t prove just a mirage. You see, my faith stresses the importance of community, of togetherness. It says we care for each other, that the American ideal of individualism is largely hokum. We share, we communicate, we give ourselves to each other; we offer ourselves fully. Meaning, God, whatever you want to call it was there that night for me in those who cared for me and sat that awful watch by my side. As alone as I felt, the miracle of connection, of community, got me through (with the help of many doctors and nurses).

With all of that said, and being that it is the conclusion of an incredibly divisive year in the aggregate, I guess I’m saying I found meaning in that senseless experience in my community of friends and family. We are all we really have in this crazy world with all its ups and downs. My hope is that you remember those around you who care for you, who believe in you, who love you. Grab hold of them and dear God don’t let them go. No matter what the coming year holds, the one thing certain is that we have each other, and the bond that living and loving for each other creates between us is stronger than the darkest night; it’s the only real strength we have. Love those who love you; love and laugh and cry with them. Believe in them and hope with them. Hold them close and know that everything, no matter how dark, will get better, and the good things will only get brighter, stronger, more resilient.

Happy New Year friends!”

Thank you Brian, and thank you all around this block for being there for each other.  Whether you Facebook or not (and if you do and it is eating up too much of your time, you might consider doing a Facebook fast for lent – I might!) Just know how beloved you are in the “vast reaches and endless memory” of eternity.

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The ocean is big, but look at the footsteps and paw prints. We are not alone.

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