Last week I heard that Gun’s n’ Roses were going on tour in North America. The first thing I did was work the Google machine to see if Axl and Slash had finally made nice.
Neither Slash, nor any other original member, will be joining W. Axl Rose for this tour. It will merely be the lead singer performing alongside a bunch of people you’ve never heard of.
It’s not like all the former members hate each other. In fact, getting them together in a room is actually quite easy, you only have to mention that Axl won’t be there. This is a shame because when they were operating as the Most Dangerous Band In The World, Rose was often the only thing holding them together.
Now he’s the only thing keeping them apart.
Under most conditions it can be hard to keep a rock band together, but it’s even harder to do when they’ve achieved everything they hoped for. It’s not usually the battle to become the best that kills a band, it’s usually the divvying up of the spoils.
My favorite band break up? The Smiths. It included the now legendary firing of Bassist Andy Rourke. He received a Post-It Note on the windshield of his car, it read: “Andy – you have left The Smiths. Goodbye and good luck, Morrissey.”
What’s great about this break up is that even though it was committed in about as cowardly a fashion as the 1980′s allowed for, Morrissey at least contacted Andy to let him know that the relationship was over.
Which brings me to Facebook.
You know that feeling you get when type someone’s name into the search box and their profile isn’t available to select from the drop down window? It’s a clever blending of disbelief and emotional confusion. You retype their name, assuming that you somehow misspelled the name “Tim”…
You type their full name and hit enter… bringing up half the “Tim Johanssens” on the network only to find that you my friend, you have been “unfriended”.
This is when the mental and internal panic sets in. You immediately begin “action checking”, mentally asking yourself what you could have done to invoke this digital kiss-off?
Was it the political joke you “status updated” a few weeks back?
Maybe you didn’t click “like” on those causes they sent your way…
Are they sick of hearing about your lonely cows?
Maybe it’s worse than that…
Maybe they sat down with a hot cup of chai, engaged in a rainy afternoon session of soul searching and came to the gentle, existential epiphany that THEY HATE YOU!
Whatever happened, they logged onto their computer, typed in your name, and then clicked the “unfriend” button. Even if you haven’t communicated with them in months the intentional act of excommunicating you, and then not communicating that with you, leaves you feeling like someone just punched you in the stomach and you can’t understand why.
Maybe it gets worse than this…
Last week I was updating my status when I noticed that Facebook now “recommends” friends for me to add. In the top corner I saw that it was recommending I become friends with someone that I was already friends with. I clicked on their picture only to learn, you guessed it, they had unfriended me at some point in the past.
Facebook won’t alert me to an “unfriending”, but they will rub my nose in it.
Maybe this isn’t a real problem…
It’s just a virtual connection right? It just peeves me that the biggest relational problem revolving around online communities is the fear that someone might find out that we don’t want to be friends with them, or that we’ve stopped being friends with them. This is why there is no notification when “declines” and “unfriendings” happen.
Our fear that someone we already dislike, or have stopped liking, will be upset when they learn what we really think of them is the sign of a self-centeredness so strong that it causes us to engage in a giant game of pretend when it comes to managing our relational touch points online.
We pretend that someone didn’t send us a request, by pressing ignore.
We pretend that we know someone when we accept “friends” we’ve never heard of.
We pretend that we can unfriend someone and they’ll never find out.
We pretend that if they do find out, it won’t cause a problem.
In these situations we aren’t really pretending, we’re lying. We’re lying to ourselves and we’re lying to others. It’s just easier to do so from behind the luminescent distance of a computer screen.
Maybe this is the sign of our real problem…
It would be easy to blame “technology” and let this be an online problem but honesty admits that we do these things in our actual relationships as well. Aren’t most “break-ups”, friendship and romantic, preceded by a period of lying… and ignoring… and hiding?
Whenever we find a flaw in something man-made it also points us to the flaws found in mankind. The overt self-centeredness of our hearts is consistently revealed in that we are overly self-regarding, even when it comes to those we have little regard for.
Because we care more about how we appear,
than we do about others and how things are.
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’… Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts… A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” -Proverbs 26 Ex
Until we allow the power of God’s Holy Spirit to go to work on the self-centeredness that leads to our relational cowardice we’ll continue to ignore, hide, flatter, disguise, and ultimately deceive ourselves about the true fabric of our relationships… or the lack thereof.
I’ll say this for the scoundrels of Guns ‘N Roses, at least they aren’t pretending.