Gas or Pictures… January 15, 2012


I was asked again yesterday.  “Why aren’t you on Facebook?”

I think it’s a nice thing–I think, for some people, it seems to be a means of communication. It’s just not for me. To me, it comes down to a choice of gas or pictures. Since I’m never coming back from a vacation, nor completing a task or touting the needs of my children when they’re completely able to do so themselves, I spend most of my time gassing up my vehicle and moving on down the road.

I think life is more visceral than visual. For instance, I really don’t know how to explain to someone what it’s like to sit in front of an audience of strangers and share until a common humanity overtakes us in a sweep of spirit. It’s difficult to capture in a single post on Facebook, the sensation of writing a song, or seeing someone’s luggage left outside of their car as they drive away and you chase them down the street to tell them they’ve left it behind as they look at you like you’re crazy; but still, to play it safe, they turn around and are so happy to find their stuff.

I like gas, not pictures. I like to do things and then when the things are done, rather than mounting a display to remember them, I like to go on to the next one. I don’t begrudge those who participate in memorializing their lives. Life just seems so short to me–to be encapsulating everything as I go, when there will be plenty of time when I’m gone for people to remember and to immortalize if they so desire.

I don’t have to worry about taking pictures.  Someone always is. I don’t have to wonder about little bits and pieces of myself being downloaded–we have such folk readily available everywhere. And I do participate in the sense that I keep up with some people via Facebook, so perhaps my hypocrisy is not only evident but in full bloom.

It’s just that I’ve got my foot on the gas instead my finger on the shutter. And there are three things that worry me about this whole process of choosing pictures over the gas:

1. We’re making our children too important. Even as I write that, I realize how unpopular the concept will be. The notion of family is shrinking us, though, instead of expanding us as brothers and sisters across the world. I love my children. I love them so much that I desire them to have lives and not to maintain the childish existences they once shared with me. Facebook keeps us too fanciful about fostering family. Having children was not my purpose in life–so I could settle into a chair and either worry about them or vicariously live through them. I have no inclination that God will ask me anything about my children at the Judgment Day. It will all be about me.

2. Too many events, not enough spontaneity. We have become a nation obsessed with planning and starting things, with very little passion for sustaining and little to no endurance for finishing. Spontaneity is the breath of God. It is the way His Spirit moves–and those who must have two weeks’ notice will miss out on half the excitement that was originally prepared for them. I am just like you–spontaneity sometimes angers me, frustrates me or makes me grumpy. But when I give in to its energy, I discover the breathtaking nature of human travel.

3. Too many awards, not enough art. In the absence of true excellence, we produce decals, medals, certificates and statues to affirm our progress. Yes, it is one of my problems with Facebook. People want to tack up what they’re doing on their walls and let other folks tell them how important it is. Here’s a suggestion–do important things and the fruit of your labors will be so beneficial that you won’t need anyone to tell you the value of your deeds. It’s just a thought. But because most people have succumbed to the notion that being creative is limited to a few genius souls or a sporadic strike of lightning, or worse, just the “whim of God,” we spend most of our time nostalgically remembering “greater folks” who did “greater feats,” or applauding ourselves for remakes, remixes and repetition. Once again, not for me.

I will always choose gas over pictures. It is possible I will reach the end of my life and there will be a dearth of images about my journey. It is a risk I will take. I would much rather welcome someone to sit by my side and “come see” instead of viewing my posts. Old fashioned? I disagree. I think it’s old-fashioned to sit around and thumb through family albums of photographs and reminisce … even if you’re doing it at 4G speed.


Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

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