Yesterday the sermon referenced the two things that were always going on in the Gospel of Luke….there was always travel and always a table. Facebook lets me know that this is also true of life and very soon it will change its privacy settings to enforce this. I have little doubt it is about monetizing the site, but it also promises to keep me better in touch about those people I actually care about, rather than just wish a happy birthday.
I know that first paragraph sounds disjointed, but what it comes down to is the beast of social media will now engage in a photo tagging mechanism (by all accounts as early as tomorrow) that will more readily recognize who we are and from our photos draw inferences about where we go and who we eat with, not to mention a good number of other things. Now the picture becomes clearer. Facebook is littered with vacation photos and pictures of people eating and drinking together. When it gets a handle on who is in those pictures, it will be Gospel. It will know the truest things about us and those closest to us. It will also be able to figure out the food we eat and the places we like to go….a panacea for marketers.
That is Gospel and Facebook is now religion if by religion we mean our relationship with that and those most important to us….which Facebook will now presume to know. The metrics are simple enough. Facebook recognizes me and places me in 28 photos with this person and 5 photos with that person. Obviously this person is more important than that person. I will see more of this person’s stuff and less of that person’s and Facebook will recommend the likes of this person more than that person leading to better targeting of advertising with which it makes its money. It’s a win-win situation. Even if who I spend my time with doesn’t figure it out, where I go and what I eat will. That person was only in five lousy photos, but they were at Gibson’s….better show at least some of her stuff in the news feed….along with an ad from Tiffany’s. This person’s photos came from McDonald’s….he will be in the news feed more, but the ads paired with him will be from the neighborhood pizzeria, the one that has those to die for poppers. If that is not a Gospel for capitalism and modern metrics, I don’t know what is. Facebook could do what the writer of Luke could not….get a grasp on relationship (i.e. religion.)
Just imagine if we had Facebook in 25 A.D. Mary you were tagged with Jesus at Martha’s Place. Here’s an ad for family counselling; we know you don’t get along with your sister, we have the lack of photos to prove it. And look at these ads for hair product and perfume. You’ll need those soon; your friend’s timeline is about ready to come to an abrupt end. Luke could have done a lot with Facebook, but there is a problem.
Jesus is lousy at the relationship thing. His status updates prove it. He has a preference for the poor and hangs out with ne’er do wells. You can’t build a marketing campaign around someone who associates with tax collectors and whores. Besides he’s not in many pictures with anybody. The lepers don’t like having photos taken and he forgets to bring his iPhone to the soup kitchens. He has plenty of women friends, but he is not the type of guy to buy gold and diamonds and as for the men in his life; you can only run ads for nets and fishing poles so many times.
I guess the Gospel of Luke is not gospel at all; there’s no marketing value to it. It is a good thing we have Facebook to keep it real for us.
I am not down on social media. It is a great device for keeping in touch with family and friends, but there is a cautionary note here. I look at Facebook more than the Gospel of Luke. In fact, I look at it more than the entire bible. It tells me a lot about my relationships, but it does not tell me everything. Its new features will do a very good job at recommending things to buy and may (but for personal and legal reasons) may not get a grasp on those friendships that I care most about. What it does not do is tell me where the places I should go are and who I should dine with. According to Facebook, I should find a friend and take her hiking and eat at a steakhouse in Wild Wyoming. By the time the new metrics are in place it will even name the restaurant and the trail. According to the Good Book, Chicago is wild enough for me and it matters little if I am with a he or she and dining on steak, though this town does have some darn good steak. All I have to do is go to church and serve a hot meal to some neighborhood kids. There won’t be any photos to upload or anyone to be tagged, but I have a feeling Luke doesn’t care. (Now I will ironically put this on my blog, where it can be uploaded to Facebook.)
Image: Jesus Feet Anointed by Mary of Bethany, CC License by Steve Day. Believe it or not, I have had social media ask that I tag images found in stained glass.