Friday, October 4, 2013

Facebook friending, A Cautionary Tale

I’m just curious.
There’s nothing wrong with just looking.
Oh how we justify behaviors that can cause much damage.
Sandy was a young woman in her early thirties. She was happily married, had a loving husband and darling children. She was involved in her church, loved volunteering at her kids’ school, and for all sakes and purposes was somebody that didn’t have a lot of problems.
She kept in touch with friends and family through Facebook, posting photos and looking at photos of her college friends’ kids.
Every once in a while, she’d have idle time and type in names that came to mind to see if she could find photos of old acquaintances.

One day, she thought of an old crush from high school. I wonder what David is up to, she thought. Perhaps he’s married with kids. I haven’t seen him in years.
So, she casually typed in his name and looked through his public profile. He was in a relationship but not married, and no children.
Satisfied for the time being, she left it alone. Somewhere in the following days, she again went to his profile and decided to “just send him a message saying hi.”
A couple days went by, but she did get a response. She was surprised by the excitement and thrill that she felt when noticing the message was from David.
“Hi, Sandy. Wow, it’s been so long! You look great, I really like all the photos of your family. Hope to hear back soon. –David”
Simple correspondence began between the two. At first, it really was innocent and just a series of messages reminiscing about high school and catching up on each others’ lives.
He sent her a friend request, which again provided elation she couldn’t quite comprehend.

In the meantime, life went on as normal for Sandy. She and her husband were quite happy in their marriage and she still was very involved with her children and in her church and in their school.
David was living far away, so Sandy really didn’t think anything was wrong with their communication back and forth. It wasn’t as if they were going to see each other or meet up for lunch behind her husband’s back. Still, it felt so good to have his attention.
She thought back to those high school days when she was shy and socially awkward and wasn’t even sure that David knew her name. Now she was attractive, confident, and had his full attention.
Surely they could have a great long-distance friendship, right? He was, after all, “in a relationship”, so he wouldn’t be pursuing her anymore than she’d be pursuing him.
Sandy’s husband noticed that she seemed happier lately. Her kids also noticed the change. She had an extra spark, an extra burst of energy. She hummed when she was in the kitchen, she smiled more often, she seemed less stressed out.
Everything seemed to be perfect until one day when David sent a message to Sandy letting her know that he and his girlfriend would be traveling to her city and wondered if he could introduce her to Sandy.
Sandy sat staring at her computer.
What was she going to do? How would she explain to her husband that she wanted to see David and meet his girlfriend, when on the inside, she had these conflicted emotions bouncing around? She hadn’t done anything to invite his advances and he wasn’t offering any, yet there she sat, feeling things she hadn’t felt in years.

Although this situation is hypothetical, it is a cautionary tale that can become an easy reality.
As long as we aren’t dealing with something right in front of us, we can put our consciences at the side and engage in dangerous dealings that seem very harmless. Any spouse intending unconditional faithfulness knows it would be a bad idea to meet up with a former crush or flame unless your spouse is present and even then, is still an awkward situation at best.
Why then, do we allow ourselves to email or send messages through Facebook or follow on Twitter these people from our past?
It is more tempting, I think, for people who are currently happy and content, than for unhappy persons, because we feel safe in doing so. “I’m so happy in my present situation that I would never actually do anything.” That lack of caution leads to entrapment. Emotional unfaithfulness can cause even deeper harm and trust issues, sometimes, because the justification says “I didn’t cheat. We didn’t even touch.”
All of these problems are symptoms of a deeper emptiness.
When you look back with your rose-colored glasses to that high-school crush or flame or ex, you remember all the good about that person. You remember all that you wanted and needed at that time and didn’t receive, and this person was idolized. You believed they could provide the fulfillment you were longing for.
Now that you feel whole and complete, you think that your current self can jump into your past and be attractive to that ideal of a person you didn’t have back then. You are trying to fill a void that you never surrendered. That void is an area of your life that still needs filling, though you believe your current situation is content.
The problem lies not in looking at photographs of people online, but in believing that a person from your past can be any different for you than a person in your present life. You have not been a part of his or her life for quite some time and you don’t know them or who they currently are. If you are a Christian, then there will always be only one source of fulfillment. Your longings are real and they do need to be met, but you are searching in the wrong places. The instant gratification of a “like” on your status or a message in your inbox or a tweet@you may bring short-term satisfaction, but like any temporary fix, will leave you empty and needing more.
It is only when we are deeply satisfied within our hearts that we will recognize these temptations for what they are, and handle them properly.

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