Noise - Internet Social Networking

Well, this is certainly not an original thought... but one that is currently necessary in my spiritual journey. Our lives are full of noise.  Not necessarily auditory stimulus, but a variety of input that clutters up our heart.  (In the Jewish mind, the heart is the center of the being and includes the elements of our mind, emotions, soul, and will.  It is this definition that I am referencing.)  It has been referred to as noise, because all of this clutter has the net effect of deafening us to God's still small voice.  That is significant because as Christ followers, we are specifically instructed to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), as we follow His voice (John 10:27).


So, I am determining to examine the noise in my life.  I am going to look at the things that distract and why they are so charming to me and so tempt me into comfortable distance from God.  This exercise may not be helpful to you.  I hope that it is though.

I can get very engrossed in facebook.  I never got into myspace.  It just seemed like e-clubbing and had no lure for me.  But the simplicity of shooting out some thoughts or updates to a select group of friends and family who may like to engage in an on-going conversation seemed much more legitimate to me.  And when I bought into the idea that I could keep in contact with friends and relatives who are far off, I was sold.  Truthfully, there is some real benefit in those areas.  I really know several of my cousins much better because of our facebook connection.  I have found a college friend with whom I had a very significant connection during that era of my life, and who I could not get a hold of by other means even though I had tried.  I am aware of the goings on in some of my high school friends lives and even get a chance to have light discussion of some of those goings on.

But here's the noisy part.  Sometimes, I get caught up.  I'll sign on to just "check my facebook."  And before I know it, I'll be commenting on dozens of my friends posts.  And then, after commenting I'll refresh the page to see if any new posts show up on my home page.  And then I'll go back through all of my comments to see if any re-comments have been posted.  And if none have, I'll read any messages that are in my message box to waste some time and then I'll look back through my comments to make sure that my jokes were funny to my friend and their friends too.  And there's no responsive comment, I'll just break down and send them a message with the joke that I already posted as a comment.  And then I'll notice someone who commented on the same post who either looks familiar to me or whose comment intrigued me and I'll go to their profile to see if I really know them...  And before I realize it, I have spent an hour posting and researching unnecessary and insignificant pithy little remarks.  And I have eventually run out.

And then sometimes I log on to facebook just to post something from my own life.  And the more I think about this, the more noisy this practice seems to me.  I mean seriously, I rarely post some significant accomplishment or earth-changing event.  I sometimes share developments in my kid's lives. And occasionally I post something that relates to my ministry or that reflects God to the facebook world.  But most often my posts go something like this:  "stuck in line at WalMart... guess I'll catch up on Linday Lohan."  Or how about this one, "LOST tonight - can't wait to see Smokey bite the dust!"  Now what is the real purpose of such posts?

I can't help but remember how in my youth I walked through the world as if I always had an audience.  I thought everyone around me was somehow so interested in my life that they watched my every move.  Of course then, it was all based on some kind of low self-esteem and an intense anxiety that I was always doomed to mess up somehow.  But, why to I think anyone cares what I am watching on TV or that I am standing in line at the local branch of the world's discount czar.  I mean is there some kind of narcissism going on here?  Why would I think that 687 friends really want to know that kind of minutia?  Do I like deluding myself into the belief that I really am the star of my own movie?  I think of the worship song (the title of which I can't remember at the moment) that talks about the importance of an 'audience of One.'  Living for God alone!!!

Now, just one more tangent before I conclude.  What's up with facebook on the cell phone?  Not only do we (I) allow it to eat up too much time at home and work, now I can actually tune out of my real and personal conversations to rudely dismiss the people who I am physically with to play to my audience via the cell phone.  How ridiculous!  How absurd!  Just more proof that there is some kind of imbalance in the whole thing.

Noise!  If just the fancy of the current trend or if truly a self-obsession that borders on idolatry, this kind of obsessive use of internet social networking is a problem.  I'm not saying that all internet social networking is idolatry or sin.  I'm saying that to one extent or another we have a new source of noise in our lives that has varying degrees of potential to drown out the voice of God.

Perhaps a internet fast would be revelatory to us all!
Perhaps creating a strictly enforced social networking 'diet' which allowed us no more than a cumulative time of 45 minutes/day!
Perhaps giving it up all together!

I am fully aware that blogging is one of these venues to which I am referring and my use of it for this subject may seem somehow hypocritical.  We'll all have to judge that for ourselves.  But here is my first installment of "noise."  What are your thoughts?


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