Frustrated with their censorship of conservatives, I deleted my Facebook account on November 25, 2020. Yesterday, I returned to Facebook. Both the fact that I left and the fact that I returned bother me. In an effort to sort through why, this episode is dedicated to unpacking the whole messy situation as I see it.
Facebook is Meta now. And where the Metaverse is concerned, we need informed opinions. And getting those informed opinions will require first-hand engagement in this case.
The practical reality for the foreseeable future is that Big Tech owns the lion’s share of the internet. And there is no living in the modern world without maintaining some kind of presence in the space Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter dominate.
But I want to do more than rail against infringements on free speech. No one will be charmed or won over by begrudging and bitter engagement on this subject, including me.
As I consider it, my reasons for both leaving and returning to Facebook are the same. Our first responsibility is to love the Lord our God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All else we do must at some point face the question of whether we are doing these two things well and truly.
When I left Facebook, my hope was to love both God and my neighbor better. And I believed strongly I could love both God and my fellow man better by leaving than I could by staying.
Yet so also, my return is predicated on the belief that to continue on being a conscientious objector and abstainer under the circumstances would be less than the best I can offer. Therefore, I conclude I can love God and my neighbor better if I rejoin. And so I have.
Line-drawing and Boycotts
The trouble with boycotts is what it always has been. Where do we draw the line? How far are we willing to go in forsaking all interaction with organizations and entities based on their objectionable practices? And what if all the alternatives, or near enough, become similarly objectionable?
Whatever valid objections a person might have to Walmart or Amazon, for instance, it is very hard to buy groceries or nearly anything these days apart from them. And starving, though certainly an option, is objectionable too on principled grounds, particularly as a husband and father.
And the technology by which we stay in touch and communicate with one another is a close cousin to being able to buy other necessities like food and drink.
Yet at a more basic level where the Christian conscience is concerned, though I respect that like with meat offered to idols in early Church History our consciences may not always agree on partaking or abstaining, I don’t believe we are commanded by God in His Word to boycott Facebook.
In my individual case, at this juncture, if anything the requirement that a man provide for the needs of his household may require that we do business with people we must profoundly disagree with – even with those who loathe and resent our living and believing as Christians.
And just as I refuse to become enslaved by newfangled social media technologies, neither can I afford to become a slave to protesting them. This holds particularly true if engagement with them is a precondition for reforming society and seeking the welfare of the city, a project I am committed to.
Seek the Welfare of the City
I feel a deep and abiding conviction to pursue a national revival of Christian faith. As such, often over the past year and a month of being off Facebook I have meditated on why God would command exiled Jews in Babylon through the prophet Jeremiah to “seek the welfare of the city” to which they had been brought.
Babylon was well and truly pagan. Yet it pleased God to be represented in the Babylonian context by His people continuing to live in Babylon in a way that brought glory to Him.
The idolatry and wickedness of Babylon notwithstanding, God commanded His people to continue loving Him and their neighbors – even when their neighbors were their enemies.
All the same, I hope I am not a dog returning to my vomit. And I hope I am not a fool returning to his folly, coming up with some spiritualized rationale for going back to something I left with good reason.
Yet I hope even more that I am not wise in my own eyes, nor self-righteous, nor tired and embittered. There is more hope for a fool than for a man who is wise in his own eyes, Proverbs tells us.
And as James tells us to have the proper attitude where boasting about our plans is concerned, we do well to remember the principle in this context. “God willing, we will live and do this or that.”
Therefore, when God leads us underground, the Church goes underground. And when God leads us back into the open, we follow Him there also.
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