Facebook Messages: When Did Mean Become Cool

It’s Monday, the best day of the week. Ok, not really. It’s the day you know you need to kick your tail in gear and get focused on your todo list. Sometimes it takes me two coffees to melt off the Monday woe’s, but I always get there. Once I’m back in motion at work, I seem to forget that Monday was ever even dreadful to begin with.

Today, my Monday was showered with a new experience. I received my first MEAN facebook message from a random human I have never met nor does she know me. I have friends who because of their jobs, passions, etc have been the receptors of such lovely misdirected words but today was my first time having this experience.

When I first got the message I was rather confused. I really did think I was a pretty nice chick. I’m patient and sometimes even more gracious than other’s would say I should be. Other times I might be a little too honest, but I’m a big believer in understanding the other side and saying “I’m sorry” really hasn’t ever been an issue for me. My parents have always modeled apologies very well. Even last weekend as a family my dad had a quick response to a parking guy, we commented on it, and he immediately stopped and apologized in front of all of us and the guy’s coworkers. Saying your sorry might prick your pride, but it’s important and sometimes we all need to say we’re sorry. Humility goes a long way when finding and granting forgiveness.

So, let’s recap.

I posted this status the other day –

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I, along with two other crazy friends, manage a Facebook Swap page with almost 9,000 members. We have to approve every single human, spammer, crazy that tries to get into our closed group. Obviously with 9,000 members that bar isn’t set terribly high for entrance, but after spending a good hour that night approving and denying people I was tired of seeing spam half naked women accounts. Then came my post.

I wasn’t trying to bash the cute momma’s of the world who want to have all of their kids name in their facebook profile name. I was more confused how if you want to showcase you ARE a mother why you also would want to showcase your bare bod. I didn’t call anyone out specifically, just made an observational statement. Maybe I’m sheltered or weird or confused, but no kid wants to see their mom with a half naked profile picture on display the for world to see. To be real honest, I DON”T WANT TO SEE IT EITHER. And I’m 27 which I think puts me in the “somewhat cool every now and then age range” at least that’s what I tell myself as I’m rapidly approaching 30.

Was I completely out of line? Was I judging those mothers who post naked pictures of themselves on facebook? Well, I guess so. And for that I am definitely sorry. Taking away the fact I am a human and was tired and made a facebook post based on a current hour of blurry eyed approval and denials, I am still sorry for whomever that offended that doesn’t mind the half naked pictures on facebook.

I do feel confident though that if you actually know me then you know that of ALL the things I work very hard to NOT be called – “Judgmental, hypocritical, stuck up girl who attends church” would be top of the charts. It’s actually been one of my passions, to be a real christian living a real life in a real world that exemplifies God is REAL and GOOD and LOVE. Church doesn’t live inside the walls of a church building. It’s people who live their lives in communities, offices, schools, ball parks, restaurants and with evolving online living- facebook too. I really do not want there to ever be a difference between who I am from place to place.

I’m not going to post all of our correspondence through facebook, because I’m not into that. But I couldn’t help feeling sad today for this lady. I even asked her if she wanted to grab lunch or coffee because I really cannot imagine what life has thrown at her that made today seem ok. Unfortunately, she informed though “I would never meet up with a stranger”. (I’m still trying to figure how how you can send a stranger a mean message yet refuse to get together with them)

So, why coffee?

Do I really want to meet up for coffee? Well, not exactly. I have already envisioned the first 10 minutes to be really awkward. I have plenty of friends who would love to get together and chat about life with me that would encourage me (or tell me when I was out of line), but I really felt if my post was SO offensive that it required such a mean facebook message that the person would certainly want to meet up with me to talk and get to know me or to even “help” me. If the reason someone sends you mean words to tell you how awful they assume you are for posting that kind of status and their heart motive was to help you not be “so judgmental” then surely they’d want to meet up? Not so much. Sometimes people just would rather prove their point with sharp words. Is that really what we’ve come to today, though?

This is the problem, people.

Why are we SO ok with being so pointed and unkind in the online world? If you wouldn’t speak with someone in the same way face to face, you should NOT speak to them so unkindly online. What is the point of it anyways?

Are we that insecure we just want others to feel ashamed?

Are we looking for some false sense of validation if we make someone feel bad about themselves?

Are we more interested in making someone feel BAD about themselves than we are about showing them a better way?

Why can’t we choose to love people and help them instead?

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Today’s interaction was my first experience like this, but I know I am not actually alone.  As a result of managing the Facebook swap page, myself and the other admins have had so many interactions correcting women on treating each other with kindness, patience and grace in our online community. No one prepared me that in adult life people could and would be cruel without even knowing you. Over and over and over again we have witnessed members viciously attack others with words that they don’t know and I’m positive in ways they would never if they were interacting with them in real life over used items that are barely a few bucks. Is anything in life worth that much?? It’s so sad. I can’t help but wonder if the reason child bullying is a very real problem today is more of a reflection that so many adults around us have no idea how to deal with conflict and haven’t dealt with their own unresolved problems and insecurities. The only thing more dangerous than a child who bullies is an adult who does the same.

I’m not saying I was bullied today. I wasn’t. And I am not looking for anyone to say I am not the things sent to me today. I know the message wasn’t true and I know if there was a real problem I have a long list of great family and friends who would let me know. Trust me, they have no problem telling me when I need to correct something. But I was reminded today that we live in a very broken world with people walking around with broken hearts. If we live our life consumed with ourself, we’ll miss that the people around us need healing. Not just hello’s, they need people to help them heal beyond their moment and walk in freedom.

I don’t mind saying I’m sorry and really if that post offended anyone, I – really – am – sorry. Even those who didn’t opt to send me a mean message about it, I”m sorry to you, too. I’d probably have treated the person to lunch who sent me a nice message about it. That would actually be the best way to help someone, right? To speak with them, to hear their heart, to judge them not based on a random online encounter, but based on who they are, their season of life and heck, even extend them a little grace if they are just a cluster mess. Since when are our online lives a real depiction of who we are? I know mine isn’t. Lord my online life looks so fabulous sometimes I wish I was myself.

I learned a few things today-

1) Don’t leave your facebook page open to the public (mind you, I didn’t know mine was open for anyone to view) This lady did not know me, had not met me, but did take time to view my facebook page because of this post

2) Respond in love, not emotion.

There is a lot of mess and hurt in the world. Don’t be a part of it. People’s actions and reactions are so often a reflection of what they are walking through. We all experience the world through our own filters. Be gracious. Love more. Be kind with your words even if you don’t think someone deserves them. There’s a good chance there were times you didn’t deserve them either.

If Jesus had a facebook what kind of messages do you think he’d send?

** Sidenote – My profile page is now private again and this lady (although I think it was a fake profile) has blocked me fully.  The message clearly made it appear her issue was not actually with me but with other parties I’d rather not mention. And as stated above, I did not feel bullied today and I am not looking for any sympathy. However, dealing with confrontation with those we know and those we don’t know is a very real part of all of life. This blog isn’t about just today’s occurrence, today’s interaction merely spurred me to put into words a vey real issue I’ve witnessed, had to manage, and now experienced at a level myself. Since I still do not know the real identity of who sent me the message this is not at all a jab or exposure of this mystery lady. I’m sure if she was actually concerned about me, she wouldn’t have used a fake profile to communicate with me. If she reads this, I wish her the best!

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