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Facebook and The New Realities of Social Networking

by Rev. Sarah Halverson

What’s all this we’re hearing these days about Facebook and “the new realities of social networking?”  About how those “realities expand our previous notions of community?

Good question.

Think of Facebook as a tool, one that enables you to “check in” with yourself and your friends, and you will start to see the possibilities.  The point of Facebook thus becomes identifying changes in yourself so that you can share them with your friends who then have the opportunity to comment on your “status.”   To “play the game” you must be intensely aware of your thoughts and feelings as you update your status.  Those updates encourage community.  Your friends respond to you, inquiring into your thoughts and offering words of support, humorous observations or congratulations. 

My friend, songwriter Paul Svenson (he wrote “One Spirit of Love” a song often sung at my church), uses Facebook as a tool to identify joy in his life.  I love to read his updates as he manages to find joy in whatever is going on in his life.  Using Facebook as a spiritual exercise in this way is a wonderful reminder to him and his friends that we can find joy in all aspects of our lives.  I’m sure he’s not always joyful but the act of updating his status forces him to search for the joy in life and, as he does, he finds what he’s looking for!  Isn’t that amazing?  When we look for something we usually find it.    So Paul looks for joy and identifies it in his life, in his thoughts and feelings.

 If we look for wrong, we find that, too.  Editors have that ability.  The rest of us can read and not see errors but editors are actively looking for them.  If we actively look for the negative in life, we will come up with negativity and exclaim, “Ah ha, I knew it!”

If we change our perspective and start looking for the positive – the good in people, the joy in our lives, I believe we’ll find ourselves exclaiming, “What a beautiful day!” or “What a sweet person!” or “I feel joy, joy, joy in my soul!” 

Of  late my Facebook friends have been posting the things for which they are grateful.   Committed to finding gratitude in their lives, they post something different each time they update their status.  They are using Facebook as a tool to take stock of their lives and recognize the gifts they’ve been given.   Each day it grows a little more difficult but I imagine that after the initial challenge it will become easier.  Once we begin to express our gratitude thanksgiving flows forth!   So, whether you’re on Facebook or not, I invite you to consider the joy in your life!  Look for it.  Search it out if you have to.  I feel certain that, even on your worst days, if you seek joy you’ll find it!   As we approach this time of Thanksgiving, why not share what you’re thankful for.  Tell your friends.  Post it as your status update.   We all can benefit by checking our status right now and observing the joy in our lives and the gratitude in our hearts.

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