Posts Tagged self-awareness

Facebook: Friends Without Benefits

I’m on Facebook now and have been for many months. At first, a few of my close friends found me, although I’m not sure how. Good stuff. These were people I was invested in and who felt a strong tie to me. We had a nice time catching up and sharing information about our lives. We chatted, shared photos, and it all worked well because we knew each other. So, calling them my “friends” seemed right and appropriate.

Long Lost Acquaintances

Then something interesting happened. People I used to know, but haven’t had contact with in 30 years began to request “friendship” status. Because I’m a nice person, and because it might be interesting to see what they had been up to over the last three decades, I began to accept their invitations.  I also extended friendship requests to a few long lost acquaintances.

But after I accepted their friendship, I never heard from them. I offered some initial contact with some of them, and had a few responses that were brief. Most, however, did not respond at all.

A Collections of Names

I noticed that some of my “friends” had hundreds of friends. I saw one “friend” who had almost 2,000 friends. Wow! Then it hit me. They are not in contact with most of their friends. They have simply accumulated a list of names and photos that represent people with whom they have no intention of having any serious dialogue. It’s as though they simply liked to collect “friends” without the concomitant real relationship that typically characteristic friendships. Like a baseball card collection. They were friends without the benefits and responsibilities of friendship.

So, for the most part, I’ve stopped accepting such “friend” requests. It’s not (let’s be  honest) very interesting to have my Facebook account filled with the musings and quips and of people I don’t know. I really don’t care what they had for dinner. I don’t need to spend time gazing at photos of their grandchildren—as cute as they are. So I’ve stopped.

How Does This Shape Us?

What does it say about the nature of friendship, when we claim to have 500 friends, most of whom we never correspond with or really care about.

How does that view of friendship shape our character and how we live in the world?

Thanks for reading,

Wayne

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Who’s Problem Is It?

Here in Michigan there is a playful ad as part of the State Treasury Department current tax amnesty program that features a man saying “You probably won’t believe this, but my dog ate my W-2’s.”  This classic excuse from our childhood sounds ludicrous and laughable from this man who is clearly behind in his taxes.

A Culture of Non-Responsibility

Part of the power of this ad, besides the humor, is that it touches on the culture of non-responsibility.  Recently I watched an interview with TV personality and creator of West Coast Choppers, Jesse James, about his divorce from Sandra Bullock and the challenges that have followed.  In the interview James departed from his earlier declaration, “There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me”, now saying, “God or whoever you believe in must have thought I was pretty strong to lump all of that on me.”  His initial desire has been harder to live out and now someone other than himself is the source of the brokenness that stems from his choices.

The Challenge

The challenge for James and all of us is to take responsibility for our actions.  There is such a great temptation to nuance our story so that we are the victim.  Such revisions make allow us to feel better about our selves and make us much more sympathetic characters in the eyes of others.

Victimhood As Lifestyle

Yet I wonder if we, in the end, aren’t victimized by this type of nuance as we slowly create a perception further from reality.  We can’t truly move past our faults and failings without honestly acknowledging them and taking responsibility for the messes that we make.  Forgiveness and reconciliation, both from above as well as from others, begins when we honestly face our fears and failures.  As tempting as it is to gloss over our painful chapters or concoct an alternate narrative, true hope, healing and character are found in taking responsibility for our actions.

What are your thoughts on “owning up”?

Thanks for reading,

Jim


 

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