Remember the1999 movie The Insider? Russell Crowe plays Jeffrey Wigand, a real-life person who exposed tobacco companies’ practice of putting addictive substances in their products. As you might expect, his revelation of the truth did not leave him unpunished.
Well, the tobacco companies had nothing on Facebook.
See, Big Tobacco made two major mistakes. Number One: they tried to hide their actions — and, despite persistent attempts to scare Wigand into recanting, they eventually paid for their deception. Number Two: the addictive substances that allowed them to make such huge profits were additives, not naturally occurring substances.
Enter Mark Zuckerberg and friends.
You may have noticed that “top commenters” on popular Facebook pages now have diamonds next to their names — badges of honor indicating to all other commenters that wit and insight, cleverly wielded, can earn you internet fame and, more importantly, LIKES. Facebook is, in fact, constantly introducing new ways of reminding you that YOU ARE JUST SO IMPORTANT AND POPULAR AND SPECIAL!!! Some examples:
• Help more people to see your brilliant post by adding a colorful background!
• Make sure you show up first on the feed by “adding to your story'”!
• Look at this video we at FB headquarters have made highlighting the times your witty posts and delightful pictures got SO MUCH LOVE!
• Earn the coveted Top Commenter Diamond by spending EVEN MORE time crafting comments that reveal to others in your online community just how darn smart you are!
No subliminal messages, nothing hush-hush: just repeated, varied, and blatant appeals to the most basic human temptation…i.e., the desire to place ourselves at the very center of the universe. A desire so strong that fulfillment of it releases dopamine, a pleasurable AND ADDICTIVE substance produced by our own bodies.
Friends, I am highly susceptible to this temptation. I doubt that I’m alone. And so I simply urge you: RESIST IT.
I’m not suggesting that you quit Facebook entirely; whether that’s necessary is a question only you can answer for yourself. But read Philippians 2. Read Jesus’ words about humility and servanthood sprinkled throughout the Gospels. Let the message of Romans 12:10 — “give preference to one another in honor” — be hidden in your heart, guiding your daily interactions and choices, pushing away the temptation to affirm your own preeminence in the world.
Pride is insidious, and comes in many guises. Keep watch — and return again and again, not to the shallow and briefly satisfying well of Facebook, but to the ever-springing well of God’s Word.