Russell Moore, who has become my favorite Baptist after John, recently wrote a helpful post on a study which claimed that logging onto Facebook can make you depressed. The key is that since people on Facebook almost exclusively post things that make them and their lives look happy and wonderful, when we see these posts we are left feeling inferior and discontent. Moore quite correctly points out that we can witness the same effect in our churches, where Christians put on happy, joyful faces when they are really living lives of suffering and confusion and sorrow.
Moore is dead on here. I have known many people, myself included, who have been hurt and offended by churches which have accepted the American-dream-Christianity ideal that we must be happy and smiling all the time. Depression, sin, weakness, anger, sorrow, and even sickness are seen in many circles as signs of a lack of faith or spirituality. But Moore observes that these attitudes are strictly unbiblical, and that if we read and appreciate the entire Bible we will see that we are called to suffer and weep and mourn at times.
The conclusion that Moore draws is that we need to make a conscious effort in our churches to combat this dangerous lie that saccharine happiness as a sign of spiritual maturity. This means that we need to be honest with each other about our mental, physical, and spiritual trials. This requires openness, which inevitably leaves us open to betrayal and abuse. But it is necessary.
While I agreed with Moore’s conclusions regarding the church, I wonder about how we are to apply this to our interactions on Facebook. I have seen people share personal trials on Facebook many times, but in general, when this happens instead of elevating the discourse on Facebook from its superficial, here’s – what – I – found – funny – online — today level, it quite often trivializes serious issues.
How do you think we can interact on Facebook in such a way as to discourage the envy and covetousness that inevitably lead to depression?