By Scott Keith –
I will not be pouring a bucket of ice over my head anytime soon.
Two movements that have gone viral on Facebook are emblematic of how our culture approaches thankfulness and giving. Our world’s orbit revolves around self-aggrandizement and ostentation. Social media promotes it, and we love it. Our tendency to be turned in on ourselves seems to have reached a pinnacle in the age of Social Media.
I have seen everyone doing the Ice Bucket challenge on Facebook. This morning while on the Jon, I even viewed a clip of George H. W. Bush getting ice dumped on his head. This is all done in the name of ALS. ALS, the impetus for the Ice Bucket Challenge is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Having been good friends and colleagues for over ten years with someone who suffers from this disease, I was automatically aware of what it was when I first saw the famous Facebook challenge. In the weeks that have followed, I have heard many people who have done the challenge refer to it as ASL, which is American Sign Language; embarrassing. Needless to say, I believe that bringing awareness to and reassign money for ALS research is a laudable goal. But, I have to ask: is this what this is?
I’m not sure. It smacks more of self-aggrandizement and succumbing to Junior High level pure-pressure. If this is a cause in which you believe and for which you feel passionate, donate more than $100.00. Donate all that you can afford to donate, but do so quietly and privately. The people on Facebook doing this are intended to choose “either/or”–ice bucket or $100.00—yet they all seem to do the ice bucket and then announce they will still donate the $100.00. Then why do the Ice Bucket Challenge? Self-aggrandizement is the answer.
We are turned in on ourselves so that even our good deeds are not good. Remember Matthew 6:3, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…”
The other trend that’s gone viral on Facebook is the “Three Things I Am Thankful For, For Seven Days” challenge. This is where people log onto Facebook and brag about three things for which they are thankful. Those of us who are “friends” with these people on Facebook sit through seven mind-numbing days of their ostentatious flattery of self. Again, I am thankful for many things. My wife, my kids, my job, and the list goes on and on. But again ask, what is the point?
Be thankful. Pray to God and tell him those things for which you are thankful. If you are thankful for your husband, tell God and tell you husband. If you are thankful for your kids, tell God and tell them. Pray to God daily with praise, petitions, and thanks. But do it privately, not on Facebook. Again, from Matthew 6, this time verse 6: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The reason for this is so that our prayers do not get confused with our boasting. Facebook, or “Facebrag” as I call it, is all about boasting not prayers of thankfulness.
In the end, I know that I am cantankerous and that all of my ranting is for not. I am also aware of the irony in me blogging about your posts on Facebook as well. Please feel free to comment regarding my blatant hypocrisy. But nonetheless; while I commend those who have taken part in the Ice Bucket challenge in order to further the research, I simply think a little less braggadocio sprinkled into our culture would be well served and a welcomed change.
Also, be thankful for all of the wonderful gifts, which God has so graciously placed in your life. Just do so with a little less air of empty boasting about you and before someone challenges you to do so on Facebrag. Perhaps the answer is for more of us to follow the lead of many others and simply say goodbye to Social Media and hello again to real life. The life that lives embodied right in front of us. Then, ice buckets and prayer lists wouldn’t even enter our universe. And that reality, I think, speaks volumes to why these things are in our world in the first place.