I’m sure you heard the news the past week about Facebook. If not, I’m sure someone posted it on your timeline. What’s the news? Facebook just surpassed 1 billion users.
1 billion. Meaning 1/7 of the world’s entire population.
No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of people.
How does Facebook get that many people to sign up for its site? There are many answers to that question, but I’m suggesting it’s more simple than we think.
They’re selling something everyone is looking for — community.
The sad thing is, many of those 1 billion souls will never find the community they’re looking for. Why is that? Because they’re looking in the wrong place.
Where community came from
Community is lots of things and I’m no expert. So instead of addressing it in a broad sense, I’ll do so from a personal and biblical perspective.
Community isn’t something we came up with. We were created out of perfect community. Genesis 1:26 says “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’…”
Us? Who is God talking to?
This passage is commonly understood as one of the verses explaining God’s triune nature, triune meaning 3 persons, but one God. It seems odd in our finite minds, because we can’t conceive of such a thing. But nevertheless, it’s clearly stated in the opening verses of the Bible that God exists in community.
God’s love, just like that of a married couple madly in love, led to wanting to spread that joy by sharing Creation with others. Just like the married couple has children, the Trinity birthed all of life out of the abundant love of God’s community.
We were created to join in the community that exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What is community?
Throughout history, people have been searching for community with God that was lost when Adam and Eve bit into the apple. We’ve done so in some very poor ways, desiring anything to take the place of the hole in our souls created by separation from God.
So what is this community we’re searching for?
There are many things that mark community, but these are some of the most important:
- Laughter, love and joy: We were created for out of laughter, love and joy, and we long for them as a result. Unfortunately, these are usually in short supply. Community comes from cultivating those things that bring you closer to others so you can experience joy.
- Devoted to each other and a common cause: The early church was built by an incredible community with the Holy Spirit at the center. They were devoted to a common cause and shared everything. They broke bread with one another, which is where we get our word companion today (com- means together, and panis- means bread). When we’re devoted to a common cause, we find ourselves invested in others in a very deep way.
- Sense of belonging: We all want to belong to a group or a family. Again, this is because we were created to be a part of God’s family. He calls each of us to Him daily. When we feel a sense of belonging, our souls receive some of the nourishment it desperately needs.
That’s certainly not all community is. But the human soul has always longed for those things that breed community.
The problem with online community
That brings us back to Facebook and other online communities, like Twitter or Instagram. These places are great for connecting with other people and even building the beginnings of relationships.
But a lot of us, myself included, take it too far sometimes. We think we can exist solely in online community, so we don’t have to go have that cup of coffee with an old friend, or make that phone call to your relative.
The problem is that we will never enjoy the true fruits of community from social media.
It forms a pseudo-community that can be dangerous for our souls.
The real reason Facebook’s 1 billion users are still looking for community?
They haven’t found it yet.
Do you let yourself be deceived into thinking online community is true community?
Photo courtesy: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious (Creative Commons)