The “Hotness” and False Perceptions of Facebook

One of the dangers and deceits of Facebook is that it gives its users the ability to create a perception of themselves that is not altogether true. Social researchers Jeremy Uecker and Mark Regnerus identify this specifically in referencing how Facebook reinforces the temporary currency of “hotness” among young people:

You are not your Facebook page, and you don’t need to be.

“Facebook also reinforces ‘hotness’ as a paramount currency and form of stratification amoung young men and women. Only flattering digital images featuring fun and spontaneity suffice, since what matters is the visual–what can be seen and read about a person…Facebook pages is only a party away. And just like online porn creates the false impression that arousal is constant–since a photograph or video is always live–so Facebook creates the false impression that hotness is constant and the only real attribute that endures. Hotness is even democratized–on Facebook, wealth matters less (since it takes more work to convey it), and power is difficult to discern. Sexiness is a calculable commodity and a primary source of prestige….

[Facebook] allows for rapid information gathering and assessment and the manipulation of others’ perceptions about oneself…And it encourages the creation of false impressions, images, and stories about users, events, and relationships as more sexualized and subject to change than they really are or intend to be.” Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, And Think About Marrying, 131, 133

Whether your Facebook page attempts to give the impression that you are really, really attractive, or quite available and ready to hook-it-up, or in a new relationship of bliss unlike any other, or pretty doggone intelligent, or always depressed because your life pretty-much sucks your status updates and profiles don’t show the whole you but only reveal a part of you. Facebook gives you a public outlet to generate a public persona of yourself that is not entirely yourself.

I use Facebook and plan on continuing to use it, but I am not unaware of its dangers and my propensity to desire other people to see me a certain way. For instance, I often post theological or biblically-derived quotes from myself or those I read, and that can give the impression that I am quite spiritual and one-heck-of-a godly guy. I assure you, this is not always the case–just ask my wife.

You are not your Facebook page, and you don’t need to be. Sure use social-networking, but don’t be unaware of its dangers and deceits. Your friend from college who posts every possible pregnant belly shot possible–doesn’t always look that good. Your old friend from childhood who dates his wife every other day–still has rough patches in their marriage. Your friends who live far away and have those funny and cute kids–aren’t always that funny and cute. O, and neither are you quite that remarkable.

Your Facebook is not you nor is it your friends. Don’t trade the illusions of social networking for the difficulty and beauty of real relationships. What matters most about you is not what is visual–what is seen on the outside via Facebook or whatever–but what is internal.

Facebook tempts us to post things that increase the currency of our like-ability and indulge in the fear of man. The gospel of Jesus rescues you from the need to show how “hot” you are in whatever area of your life you deem important enough to be publicly personified so that people will “like” you. No matter what your Facebook page reveals about you, your life is messy and in desperate need of the life-changing grace and love that Jesus freely gives to those who trust him. The good news is that if you die to yourself and your identity and trust who God is for you in Jesus he gives you a glorious identity: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)

When you awaken to the reality of this glorious identity you may still use Facebook but it won’t shape who you are. The glory of your identity–your whole life–being “with Christ” and “in God” empties Facebook of its allure of false perceptions and being liked.

16 thoughts on “The “Hotness” and False Perceptions of Facebook

  1. Pingback: Facebook, the Fear of Man, and the Gospel – Justin Taylor

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  3. Woha! Thank you so much! I’ve found myself trying to put up this image for everyone to see, and then strongly disliking my desire to live for my own little kingdom. I loathe it.
    I’m reposting this on my blog very soon. I praise God for your discernment and ability to pen these things.
    Blessings!

  4. ummmmmmmmmm…good thoughts, beej…love reading the comments u received from others…ur dad thinks I’m hot…i’m so blessed by him and my sons, u & ur bro 😀

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  10. This message about Facebook can be extended to encompass the digital persona we create for ourselves through interacting with blogs and the internet in general; I am “more” than my comments here; I am “more” than the blog posts that fill my site; I am more than what most people will ever get to know … in fact, most people will never “know” that I even existed.

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