Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Friend Request

Somebody asked me at worship tonight if I am back in the school groove and I am. My adjustment is always to my schedule, mainly when my two planning periods will fall. This year, they are 4th and 5th periods which are aligned with lunch so I have a two hour, forty minute window to get my stuff done. We are beginning the material for Test # 3 in all five of my classes tomorrow which means we tested Friday, one of my two allowable test days. (The other for Bible is Wednesday.) On my Gospels' Test # 2, I added an essay question which I do every other exam or so. I stress that I'm not looking for a certain answer; I'm looking for them to display thinking skills with the ability to put their thoughts into legible sentences and paragraphs. But our discussion question Friday was not some random thought provoking assignment. It was based on something that happened to me one year ago almost to the day. This what it said on their test:

Essay Question: 15 points This question must be answered in sentence/paragraph form. It will be graded on thought, content, and effort.

Last week, I sent a Friend Request on Facebook to a former student who is in her early twenties. Here was her reply:
Coach! How have you been? You look well. It's good to see you still doing mission work and helping the unfortunate and sick. I've always admired that about you. I appreciate the friend request, although I fear the content on my page might not be very appealing to you. But I did want to say hello given the opportunity.
What should my response be to what she wrote? Should I be flattered? Should I have my feelings hurt? Should I look at myself in the mirror and question whether I come across as judgmental to the people I am teaching? There is no right or wrong answer and don't be concerned about what I think of your position. You may use both sides of the paper provided.

You can tell from the wording of the question that I used the same question on the same Test # 2 in September of 2014, fresh off the incident, if you can call it that. During the intervening year, I also forgot who the student was although it came back to me yesterday when I saw her relative on Facebook. Her name had popped up, as I remember, in that You May Also Know stream that shows up on your timeline. As you can tell by her delicately worded answer, she did not accept my invitation but she softened the blow with her response. My current students, almost unanimously, wrote that I should be flattered that she took the time to formulate a reason when she did not owe me one at all. One of my female students guessed the young lady was comfortable with me as a teacher but would have not been as a semi-peer in the sometimes line blurring world of social media. Although her message to me did not mention any sort of objectionable material on her page, it was universally interpreted that was her meaning. I think they were probably right.

To be honest, one year later, I'm still not sure how to interpret the whole thing. I try to imagine Jesus in the time of Facebook and what His friend page would look like. He counted among His followers the least desirable of society but He also rubbed shoulders with the wealthy and the influential. Would the inhabitants of His world been comfortable with the Savior? Well, we know He was accused of hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. The ones who turned away seem more often to have been the ones considered righteous in the eyes of the people. I don't try to connect on Facebook with the now grown up kids who used to sit in school desks and listen to my stories just so I can preach to them one more time. I really just hope they remember me fondly and maybe read one of these devotionals I write nightly if it crosses their screen .My hope is that the young lady will some day change her mind about both our comfort levels and send me a Friend Request. On that day, it won't take long for me to hit CONFIRM

Applicable quote of the day:
Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.
Richard Stallman

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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