Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've been told sometimes that I'm socially awkward. It's a criticism that I accept begrudgingly, but I know that it's mostly correct. There are certain things that I just don't "get" when it comes to humor, and I can put my foot in my mouth very often. Just a few weeks ago, I remember I posted a comment on a dear friend's Facebook status (or it might have been a photograph, now that I think about it.) Either way, the comment was intended to just be kind of a joke, but I suppose it was awkward enough that the friend deleted it. He politely told me why, and I have absolutely no beef with him about it. I know he's a great friend who cares about me, so that didn't bother me. What bothered me was that, once again, I had unwittingly made a social faux pas when I simply was trying to be, well, humorous.

Frankly, it's moments like that that make me not want to even try. Facebook can be one of the more unhealthy things when it comes to revealing one's social awkwardness, because I can easily compare myself to other people. I see friends posting inside jokes back and forth. I see them make comments about how cool they are. I see spontaneous comments about how certain people miss each other, and want to talk on the phone or hang out. None of these folks are doing anything wrong, but I can't help but feel like being left out most of the time, because even though I think I'm a good and loyal friend, that kind of expressiveness is beyond me. I want to be in on the inside jokes, the spontaneous messages, the random hangouts and visits... And yet I'm really not. And every time I try to become that kind of person, it usually ends up awkwardly and poorly. And since Facebook (and the Internet in general) seems very committed to the notion of tabulating and recording who we are and what our relationships look like, that can lead to some pretty heavy feelings of not stacking up to what other people do. Emotionally, but not logically, I tabulate who my real friends are by who writes on my wall, or who jokes around with me, or who chats with me spontaneously. Logically, that's silly, but social networking has become such a part of life in this century that I doubt I'm the only one who experiences this phenomenon.

This extends to my relationship with Christ, as well. Facebook, perhaps more than any other medium, allows us to see how other Christians in our lives operate, and it creates a lot of awkwardness (at least for me) because we also know that we're being watched by our brothers and sisters in Christ. I have some wonderful, expressive, loving Christian friends who daily put up a wise Christian status update, or a link to a Christian worship song, or a relevant quotation of a Bible verse, and each time it's liked by a ton of people and there are comments of "Amen!" or "Well said!" or "You're such a wise brother! I'm thankful to know you!" And it's not necessarily a bad thing, nor do I think it's disingenuous, because these people are wise brothers and sisters and I am very thankful to know them. But I also look at my wall, and see the general lack of those Facebook Christian tropes, and I end up feeling insecure. Just like a knack for witty Facebook comments and inside jokes somehow makes me feel like those who excel at them are more successful in life, socially, a knack for putting up relevant, poignant quotes and Bible verses makes me think of those who post them as "better Christians." And I look at my wall, and my random assortment of funny articles, indie videos and general randomness, and I go, "Oh, man... They must think I don't really care about Christ."

I do, of course. I care about him more than I could ever put into words (which might be a reason I leave it off Facebook, for the most part.) I've often had a difficult time expressing my faith. My testimony, last week at my baptism, had the general feeling of a horrified squeak on my part. I was just so nervous. I don't know the right contemporary Christian songs. I don't raise my hands in the air when I sing. I tend to be really cynical and sarcastic. It's not the kind of personality that really "fits in" to the chipper, emotional groups of evangelicals that I've known in the past. Yet I think Facebook gives us mirrors where we make side-by-side comparisons of ourselves and others. Just like I may look at the banter between two friends of mine and go, "Oh, I wish I could joke around with them like that," I can look at someone's wall and go, "Oh, I wish I knew as many Bible verses or quotes from popular pastors as that guy." The main difference is that I think it's fairly appropriate to try to joke around with someone in an attempt to break out of your shell and insert yourself into the conversation. To post "Christian stuff" on Facebook when I don't really feel genuine about it, but just because I want folks to think better of me, would be kind of gross. I should wait until I actually have something that I genuinely want to say, and I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that that's going to be less often than some people, and I just hope I can survive the awkwardness in between now and then.