How many followers have you got on your Twitter account? How many ‘likes’ have you received on your Facebook page?
We all want to know that we are liked and accepted. At an unconscious level we are regularly checking that we are safe, that we are acceptable, that we are accepted.
I spoke recently to a man sitting on the pavement, slumped against a local shop window. One of my former students. He was homeless. I think that if I had asked him if he felt safe, acceptable and accepted, the answer would have been ‘No’.
You don’t have to be destitute for the answer to be ‘No’. It may be an exaggeration to say that we are all trying to be ‘someone else’, to create an image, to be other than we are. But I think that there is some truth in it. We all care to a greater or lesser extent about our identity, to know who we are and how we fit into the world.
In this age of social media, we can find ourselves under even greater pressure over the image we present. An interviewee on Radio 4’s The digital Human, said she would never appear on Facebook without make-up. On Twitter she wasn’t seen and so it was easier. However, before appearing on Facebook, or posting on Twitter, she said she became very anxious: “ I suffer from performance anxiety.”
What would Jesus have posted on Twitter? How many ‘likes’ would he have received for his Facebook posts? I think he may just have said something like, “Be yourself. You are enough. You are infinitely precious. Even the hairs of your head are numbered,” and that would have been enough to set off a Twitter storm!