Missionaries are taught to be culturally sensitive. We read books about it. We take classes in it. And, before we leave the country, we have to sit through an orientation on some compound out in the middle of the woods learning about it. For, the task of a missionary is to learn the language and culture of those to whom they are sent.
It is a principle more people need to learn.
Take for instance the newest culture. It is a global culture, one that spans international boundaries, space, and time. When Al Gore invented the internet, a small little world was birthed into existence. This world existed inside phone lines and computer servers, but that made it no less real.
At first, this world was only inhabited by nerdy college professors and geeky role players. However, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, this small little cyber world exploded and took over the globe. Already, it is the third largest country on the planet by population. Seventy percent of Americans actually have dual citizenship, also owning a little piece of internet real estate.
Facebook changed all the rules. But with this new world comes a new culture. It has unique norms, unique traditions, and unique rules to govern its society.
Hence, the Facebook Foul.
As with any organized society, there are cultural rules that dictate how people relate to each other. The following is my proposed list of activities that should be prohibited in this new society.
- Immediate comment responses…that is just creepy. A waiting period after a new comment or message should be enforced.
- Pictures of oneself in the mirror. Some people have albums full of these. Really? What is so intoxicating about the mirror that one must take their picture in it. I mean, I get the novelty of it. Yes, in a mirror, you can see your reflection. And yes, if you take a picture of the mirror you have magically taken a picture of yourself! If you insist on committing this foul, at least vary the pose.
- Hourly updates about mundane actions in your life. I will celebrate with you when you get married, have a child, graduate, or win the lottery. However, I do not need to know that you stubbed your toe or went to the bathroom.
- Spamming your entire friend list with that new game you found. I am glad you are having fun playing it. And perhaps you need to recruit people to get a better score. I know that little button to invite everyone in your friend’s list is so enticing. It just sits there, quietly saying, “click me! click me!” But don’t do it. It is just wrong.
- Long comment conversations on a status update or post that other people have liked. No one likes sitting back down to Facebook and seeing 73 new notifications only to find out two people they do not know have been catching up on life in a post they liked.
- Obscure or cryptic status updates about someone who made you mad or hurt your feelings. Approximately 78% of these statuses revolve around relationship problems. Perhaps she dumped you, or you found out your girlfriend was cheating on you. Whatever the case, this is the ultimate form of passive aggression. It may give you a chance to publicly bash this unnamed person (although all your “real friends” certainly know who it is) and simultaneously provide catharsis for your wounded soul, but it does not have the same effect on the other 456 people that have to see it.
- Guilting people into liking something because its about Jesus or starving children. This isn’t just a Facebook Foul, it is extortion. Shame on you. Perhaps 99% of people will not share that image about Jesus or hungry children because they do not see how it will actually advance God’s reign or gospel.
- Tagging some random corner of a picture instead of actually tagging someone’s face. Simply put, this is just lazy. If a person is in the picture, and you want to tag them, go ahead and lift that cursor another inch and click on their face. This issue is even more aggravating in group pictures. Tags are everywhere, except on the people! This really hampers one’s ability to Facebook stalk.
- Facebook stalking. It is the elusive foul, but we all have that friend who does it. You may be guilty of it yourself. If so, confession is good for the soul. Nevertheless, somehow that friend always knows every little piece of information about everyone you know, even the mundane details about people’s lives that no one should know (see 3).
- Liking or commenting on someone’s picture from two years ago. How did you find that picture? Oh yeah, you were stalking them.
- Shamelessly plugging your blog all the time. Oops…
Now, how many Facebook Fouls have you committed?