This is a public domain photo of Mark Twain with his shirt back on.
Apparently reports of Mr. Twain’s death have been greatly exaggerated for just last week I received a nude photo of him on Facebook. I put him down as one of my “likes” but it would seem I did not define the nature of the relationship adequately, for there he was in all his understated glory staring expectantly at me (from the waist up, of course. Decorum, please, madame.) I tried to let him down gently, but….
I have enjoyed Facebook. It has expanded my circle of friends from those who I really intended to phone, to those to whom I really intended to send Christmas cards, to those with witty online personalities, to friends of friends with interesting online personalities to a couple of people I can’t for the life of me remember, but I don’t want to admit the possibility of early senility, so there they are.
But lately I realize that I need to dislike some things. Hey guys, when I said I liked your book, or film or cause I didn’t mean we should move in together. I don’t need updates on your latest whereabouts and definitely not on your reactions to spicy food.
And Twitter? Thus far I have avoided Twitter (because I know I would probably add another addiction and lose even more time on there.) I know everybody with influence tweets and I realize the benefits of learning to write succinctly, and I think there’s a verse in the Bible somewhere that says something like, “Where many words are spoken transgression is unavoidable,” but I think there ought to be one somewhere there that says, “When quoting oneself out of context beware of cynics, heresy hunters and fans.”
Fans may be the most dangerous. For a brief time, long, long ago, I had a taste of knowing what it was like to live in a world where more people knew me than I knew back. Big fish in little pond stuff mostly, but enough to realize that anything one does or one does not do can and will be reported by people who specialize in knocking the stuffin’s out of one and replacing it with straw.
I have read articles about myself that prompted me to say, “This sounds like someone completely different from anyone I have ever known. I would like to meet this person.” (Never, never read your own P.R.) I’ve also read articles that credited me with statements I swear never passed my lips.
What upset me about my few fans is that they assumed they knew me, and oddly enough, that I knew them. They knew a few stage personas and thought that spending time reading about me was as good as spending time with me.
The preacher in a church I visited today pointed out that the difference between being a follower of someone on social media and knowing them personally was like the difference between reading about Jesus Christ and getting to know him by actually spending one-on-one time with him.
If Jesus tweeted, “Fed fish burgers to 5000 guys today” he’d get a thousand “way-to-go-dudes,” but how many would sit down with him after the crowds had gone and ask, “So what did you mean when you told us to feed those guys ourselves? How on earth are we supposed to do that? You can really baffle me sometimes. I’m tempted to go back to my day job, but I mean, wow, I just saw it happen my with my own eyes –in my own basket. Who are you?”
Sometimes on Facebook, because we are reminded of people’s activities and comment on their statuses, and they on ours, we think we know them. We don’t. We know their grandchildren are perfect and they baked 12 dozen buns, 6 dozen muffins and changed the oil in the Mazda before starting their 7 a.m. shift, or that politician’s names flame out of their keyboards like cuss words, or that the trunk full of cases of beer is intended, not for a party of 36, but a party of four guys and a labradoodle, but we don’t really know them.
I was reminded recently that I can miss it by a mile. I congratulated a couple on the birth of a child only to discover, when the photos came out, that the mother was not the wife my friend had last time I saw him. In fact she looks about 20 years younger. Awkward.
Nothing substitutes for real relationship. So read the Book, read books about the Book, talk to friends of Jesus, but don’t think that anything but real relationship is real.
Matthew 7:21 “It is not everyone who keeps saying to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the man who actually does my Heavenly Father’s will.
22-23 “In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’”