January 7, 2013
Facebook and God
By Yeshaia Blakeney
I started to write about G-d this morning but then decided I would write about Facebook. Why not? Facebook probably has more followers, just kidding...kind of. I don't like Facebook, so I don't really go on. This creates only mild difficulty in my life, at least once a day somebody is mad at me for not wishing them a happy Birthday, and I have to explain to them I didn't know it was their birthday because my inconsiderate wife did not update me on the Facebook birthdays for this week (actually she does, I just ignore her because I don't care who's B-Day it is this week!). Okay, so I have to deal with the Birthday thing and take the time to ignore my wife while she updates me, no biggie it's just time, the most precious resource we have. Okay, and a couple times a day people ask me why I haven't responded to their friend request, and I have to mechanically respond, "I don't really go on Facebook" while genuinely thinking, “plus we aren't really friends” (if you're on my Facebook wait list I'm just kidding). Why do I have a page you might ask (if you’re bright, and if you’re reading the Jewish Journal, I'm assuming you might be)? I didn't know what it was when I first signed up and it's really hard to get off. I tried once. It took me a week to figure out how to take the page down and there's a thirty day holding period after you pull the page. I made it twenty nine days and then freaked out and signed back on. What spurred my attempt to get off was when I noticed people posting about a friend that died and people would "like" the post. I found this trend horrific. I know people just did it out of stupidity, but any forum that provides more access to public stupidity, I didn't want to be a part of. Why did I chicken out of pulling my page completely at the last minute? I'm not sure, maybe it's my fear of death, even if it's virtual.
This morning my wife was trolling the b%#ch-festival-Bartlett's-Buddhist quotations that is Facebook and I was struck once again by how much I dislike it. Acquaintances whining about G-d knows what, minute-to-minute updates on how someone is feeling: PDA, TMI and my favorite, unsolicited pearls of wisdom from somebody going through a hard time.
So, in many ways I guess Facebook is not really that different from everyday existence. With one major exception: Infinite richness and depth. I can tolerate all of those things in real life because in real life I get infinite richness and depth. Make no mistake, real life can be absurd, however, at its core it is ultimately meaningful, which allows me to wrestle past my own, and other’s, ridiculousness to something higher, to real connection. I believe there are traces of the divine in all things, but layers of absurdity obscure divine light. I guess Facebook ultimately scares me because it tempts me into being even more removed from the things that matter than I already am. Facebook scares me because I think it makes everything shallow: love, life, death, truth and ancient wisdom all become bumper stickers on Facebook. A brilliant Rabbi once said, "the greatest challenge to human existence is absurdity, all human activity is plagued with absurdity," and in this regard, Facebook is a great challenge for me.
I woke up this morning with an urge to write about G-d, and ended up writing about Facebook. Why not, Facebook probably has more followers, but then again maybe the two aren't mutually exclusive.