Monday, August 27, 2012

Eulogy for a Facebook Account

Jon Speed’s Facebook account, born sometime around 2008 in Justin, TX died a timely death this last week of August 2012 in Syracuse, NY.  The cause of its demise was a healthy dose of repentance after a bout with common sense.   “It should have died long ago” Jon was reported to have said.  

Surviving is Jon Speed himself, his family of six, and Christ is King Baptist Church in Syracuse, NY.  It is expected that these, the most important people in Jon’s life, will not only survive, but flourish without the distraction of Facebook.  No visiting hours or funeral service will be observed.  The account will be buried in an umarked grave and hopefully, will not be remembered by any one, at any time, for any reason.  

In lieu of flowers and cards, friends are advised to send money and lots of it in bills that end with “zero”.  How many zeroes is completely up to the generosity and the philanthropy of the Facebook friends (aka heart stricken and extremely giving mourners).  Jon is hoping with somewhere around 3 bazillion friends, he should be able to buy some books, because there are not enough in Jon’s house.  Kim could not be reached for comment but weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth were heard in the distance.  
Yes, I am leaving Facebook.  No doubt, those who remain will wonder why.  Some will hold to its imminent usefulness, and I agree.  It is useful in its way.  Therefore Christ is King Baptist Church will have a profile for the use of its people.  It is also dangerous in its way.  

This death is overdue.  Reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated.  There are so many reasons to abandon Facebook, reasons I have been warned about over the last couple of years but did not heed.  I don’t think there is enough space in one essay to list them all, but let me give you the highlights.

1.  Facebook is a good way to cause believers, new and mature, to stumble.  I have some pretty strong opinions.  I have expressed opinions about books, theology, politics, woodchucks, fishing, child rearing, and St. Swiven’s Day.  Facebook gives me instant access to about 2600 people and I am free to let them all know what I think so that they can “like” it or comment on it.  Eventually someone stumbles.   Somewhere I read something about loving my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have reached these opinions through a lot of study, thought and in some cases, prayer.  It’s not fair and unloving to unload these like a shotgun on people without some context.  

I love to write and plan on continuing to write.  But my best efforts should not be on the internet buried in some file somewhere, but in books that are published and on carefully written blogs.   The longevity of writing depends on the medium it is preserved in and diatribes in 140 characters or less is not writing.  It is venting.  And when we vent we tend to hurt someone who may disagree with us no matter how self justified we think we may be.  

And let’s be honest.  Sometimes I like to roll the proverbial hand grenade in the room and see what happens.  Sometimes I like debate too much.  That’s just my flesh and it needs to die.  

2.  Facebook is divisive within churches.  We’re too young as a church here in Syracuse to have seen much of this, but I have seen it elsewhere.  Largely because of the reasons delineated above, people leave churches.  Good churches.  Recently someone used the involvement of someone on Facebook as an excuse to leave a church.  (BTW, if you think it is you, it’s probably not.  The fact I have to say this is sad by itself.)  The excuse was lame and masked about a dozen other reasons, but I never want to give any believer any ammo or excuse.  In leadership, free expression of everything and anything instantly, in the matter of a fraction of a second, is a nice recipe for disaster.  There’s a reason I study for many hours during the week before preaching on Sunday morning.  I am accountable for my words.  I am no less accountable on Facebook.  

3.  Who has time for this stuff?  Seriously, if you are called to ministry you don’t need to know what everyone is doing around the world.  You have enough right where you are to worry about without trying to live in community with people in a virtual online world.  It doesn’t work.  I think that most of us are trying to find something on Facebook that we’re only supposed to find (and CAN only find in reality) in the local church.  Before Facebook, we used to do the same thing on message boards.  

4.  There’s stuff I want to read.  From where I sit I see the works of Jonathan Edwards, seven volumes on Hebrews by John Owen, George Whitefield’s Journals, two volumes on Hudson Taylor, a whole shelf on the history of preaching, the works of Tolkien, a whole bookshelf of classics, and a pile more.   I also want to read more American history.  I think I’d be better served reading this stuff than either: 1) what someone had for dinner last night, 2) countless internet memes, 3) invitations to Farmville, and 4) the endless reports of people’s evangelism outings that sound strangely familiar after reading them for the past eight years (sorry, it’s true—there’s the hand grenade).   

By the way, leaders are readers.  And they read books.  Real ones with pages.   It’s not enough to read good blogs from favorite preacher\writers.  You learn to think by interacting with entire books, not just a couple of pages.  So repent and buy a book.  And then read it.  

5.  There’s stuff I want to write.  I’ve been asked to write a book on evangelism (yes, another one, whether we need it or not!).  I have at least three other book ideas.  I’m contributing to Crown Rights’ Media’s blog (which I am extremely excited about) and have another blog I may air my opinions on.  The difference is, if you want to read it, you have to go look for it and not have it on your newsfeed whether you like it or not.  If you read it now, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.  

6.  There’s stuff I want to do.  I want to trap furbearing animals, rip their skins off, and sell them for fun and profit (I just lost half of my friends there).  I want to hunt meat-bearing animals and eat the meat they’ve been carrying around (there goes a few more).  Not to mention the fish swimming around freely in New York State lakes—yum, yum, yum.  I come from a long line of people who kill things and eat them.  I want to teach my sons to be men and not to be chained to a computer screen.  

7.  My mother-in-law is dying.  When you watch loved ones die real deaths, things come into focus a bit.  Stuff that doesn’t matter is exposed as not mattering.  For example, how I am perceived by those who are my virtual friends--doesn’t matter.  People matter.  I need to spend time with people I am invested in and who are invested with me.   The Lord matters.   What people think of me?  That doesn’t matter a hill of beans.  

7.  I’m planting a church.  Nuff said.

In the meantime, I exist in the real world on the south side of Syracuse, NY.  You may find me there, evangelizing on the streets, standing in front of Planned Parenthood, reading good books, selling books, writing, loving my family and killing things.  Call it “taking dominion.”  In short, I am doing what Paul Washer recommended a few years ago.  I’m going to be a man and get off of Facebook.  For the glory of the Lord and the good of His church.  

With Charity for All and Malice Toward None,


P.S.  Thanks to Phil Johnson, Justin Edwards and David Catoe for their examples and explanations regarding these things.  

P.P.S.  The account will be left open for one week for friends to post their well wishes, good riddances, and Farmville requests.  

P.P.S.S.S.  Some of you are real friends, believer and unbeliever alike.  I have met you and know you.  Stay in touch.   Drop me an email at 


Justin Edwards said...

Praise the Lord, brother! I only had time to skim this morning, so looking forward to coming back later to read it more thoroughly. May God bless you as you continue to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and love His Beloved Bride. SDG!

Justin Edwards said...

Praise the Lord, brother! This is great news and thank you for setting this example. May our great God and Savior continue to bless you as you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and love His Beloved Bride! SDG!

covnitkepr1 said...

I have a Facebook account and only use it to keep track of my kids and grandkids. Other than that i don't use it and consider it a waste of tiome. There is just too much personal information out there on FB.

Just checking back for any new posts you may have written.
I’ve been a follower on your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

Wish you'd put a follow wedgit up so I could follow you publicly.

Jon Speed said...

Justin: Thanks for your faithfulness and your writing on this subject. It's been helpful.

covnitkepr1: Facebook has its uses, and it is a waste of time when it becomes some sort of end-all for fellowship and discussion. I'll get the follow widget up and running.