Friday, October 20, 2017

Friends List

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other night and ran across a particularly obnoxious and polarizing post from someone I scarcely know. This is a fairly regular occurrence, but the mood I was in had me thinking “enough is enough.” I resolved to not only un-friend this person, but I was also going to purge my whole friend’s list of people I might not like.

A funny thing happened as I began going over the long list of names. I was unexpectedly moved by all the people I saw there.  It ranged from very close friends I have known for decades down to some mild acquaintances.  While still not an exhaustive list, here were hundreds of names and faces of persons who have crossed my path at different times in my life. They may have been in one of the many churches I attended as a child or one of the many churches I have served as a minister. There were pals from elementary school in one town and high school in another. College classmates, co-workers and colleagues.

Our relationships ranged from intimate to casual, but we have been in each other’s lives on one level or another. The scope of seeing it all at once was what got to me I guess. I also saw people from periods of my life I thought I would never hear from again. We had grown apart, moved away or moved on. Yet, now here we are again “liking” each other’s photos and occasionally commenting on things in our respective lives.

I needed this encouragement because social media has become a divisive tool in some ways instead of one that brings people together. I saw among my male and female friends those who were young, old, conservative, liberal, Christian, Jewish, atheist, gay, straight, unsure, redneck, citified, soldiers, sailors and people of just about every shade of skin pigmentation under the sun. All these humans are my friends and it just made my heart swell a little. The sheer variety is a blessing and enriches my life.

When it came down to it, I found I did not want to “delete” anyone. This is partly because I also saw a lot of my friends on this list who have died and yet their pages remain active. It was a stark reminder that some of the schtuff we get all worked up about and let come between us will one day be less than a pile of ash.