There’s much talk these days about social media, especially blogs and Facebook, and likely Instagram, and probably Twitter, and most definitely Pinterest, but probably not Google+ because no one knows what that is, really. The talk is about how these venues of communication make some people crusty and agitated because they don’t believe people are portraying themselves honestly for the world to see. They are wearing their “Sunday Best,” let’s say, but never airing dirty laundry or imperfections, aren’t raw and real, and are lacking vulnerability and authenticity.
Essentially, what I see happening and sometimes experience is, we are comparing our private selves to other peoples’ public selves. The reality is, if we are irritated by another person’s post, isn’t that more about us and our faulty, insecure filters rather than about the other person? Just a question to ask ourselves.
I do use all of the above modes of media, some I’m fine with, others suck me into a dark place…and I want to talk about that.
I guess I’ll just go down the list:
- Blog World: I started blogging b/c my BFF set one up for me while our son was in the hospital 7.5 years ago. I didn’t know what one was, and as I started out, only thought friends and family were reading it. It never occurred to me a scientist in Antarctica was reading or a new friend from Australia would come of it. I continue to write my blog because I’ve come to know God in a more personal way through it, learning from Him that He wired me as a writer, not to publish books or for attention or fame, but simply as an expression of my love to Him. It’s humbling other people take time to read my heart on screen. Do I read other blogs? I do read some, but not regularly. I’m not “in a tribe” if you will, nor do I have one. I have some friends in the blogosphere and check in with them once in a while as they are on my heart. I love what they are doing in their circles of encouragement and believe God has connected us to pray for one another to keep on doing what we’re doing.
- Facebook: I resisted Facebook for quite some time because I’m one of those girls who is initially resistant to change. Then I saw how fun it was to reconnect with all the circles of life from my past, people I genuinely cared for, and so I jumped in, likely with too much enthusiasm at the start. I can honestly say, I love seeing the snippets of peoples’ lives. I imagine we’re sitting on the couch together, looking through pictures, sharing stories, catching up on tons of years. When I see pictures or status updates about trips or date nights or kids, I’m totally excited for them. I also love funny stories and status’ that reveal our imperfections…you know, opportunities to NOT take ourselves so seriously. As a former closet binge eater, however, I have a hard time with the constant FB posts of people’s dinners. I admit. I totally posted pictures of food from Spain. I did it. But that isn’t all I ever post. I have to scroll on by when I see constant pics of food on a person’s status. At the same time, I subscribe or “Like” several foodie pages. It’s like food porn at times, and if I am feeling vulnerable and lacking in life margin, seeing their constant recipe posts and plugs for their cookbooks, I have to scroll on by. Here’s the crazy one…so, I love connecting with women! I love when women realize who they are as God’s created and start thriving in their gifts. I love when women come together and encourage one another, are collaborating and are crossing bridges to team up for Love’s sake. I’ve been praying over these things for more than 15 years and the random roles I’ve played in leadership development, mentoring, small groups, as a women’s pastor, radio show host, and as the founder of Bevy Girls are all a reflection of this. And at the same time, on FB (and Twitter) when I see bloggers and authors and speakers I’ve known of for years posting things I’ve been praying about for so long, my first flesh reaction is literally an elevated heart rate, accompanied by a slight throat and chest constriction. I have to literally STOP. And I say, “Lord! Help me! Seriously! You know my heart, so why am I not rejoicing and praising rather than wondering why You would lead me to pray about these things for years, but never allow me to be part of it?!” And then I repent. I have to. Every time. And I realize I am part of it. I’ve been on the praying part of it. Because I love when we come together and am inspired when we do, but I realize what it is for me: the anxiety which comes when I see the calls for great gatherings of women is Satan’s attempt to discourage me with a mentality that I’ve dropped the ball and am not doing enough…that I have to be part of the bigger gatherings in order to make the greater impact for God’s kingdom. And it’s when my head and heart start believing these lies, rather than being faithful to love and care for, pray for, and nurture the people in my small circle of life, that I cycle back to the food porn blogs or a fitness blog where I think I’m a cow and don’t lift enough weights and make myself a few chocolate chip cookies, or drink a little vodka, or eat carbs.
- Facebook, part 2: Clearly FB needs a part 2. I like FB b/c it gives me a sense of being in touch with people I love. On the other hand, I don’t care for it because it really can be a time waster. The amount of time spent on FB in this world, by those of us who use it, could be put to better use if we all signed off forever and actually lived life engaged in our little circles of life, this could be said about all modes of social media. That being said, for now I’m not signing off because of the community of awesome people, and rather than feeling overwhelmed that someone else’s post about what they are doing is a finger pointed at me for not doing it, too, I’m working on being intentional and faithful in my circle of life, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, loving those around me in the day to day.
- Facebook, part 3: So, one last thing…I don’t look at posts as fake or “hey, my life is perfect!” When my friend wrote this, she was stating the obvious: we post family pictures when we’re bathed and dressed (*unless it’s on Awkward Family Photos, but that’s another story…), but clearly we don’t always bathe or get dressed, nor is anyone perfect, so it’s only our own insecurities that are triggered if we think anything other than, “Cool, she and her family look great!” When we think, “She’s a bitch because she’s pretty” or “she doesn’t know what it’s like to have problems,” it’s safe to say we have forgotten not everyone has the luxury of daily showers. But here’s the big one: I don’t think FB is fake at all but rather revealing. I think when one person is constantly putting up pictures of food at restaurants, they are revealing something on the throne of their hearts. And the person who is posting selfies every other day? Again, revealing loneliness, a desire to be known, a cry for attention and connection. How about the invites for game playing? Same thing. But imagine if people actually sat at the same table to play Scrabble or whatever game it is…wouldn’t that be profound?
- Instagram: Again, sure I’ve posted pictures of food (things grown in my garden or my kid eating a head of broccoli or a recipe I’ve made) but it’s not so someone else feels badly because their kid doesn’t eat broccoli or they don’t make homemade soup. I’m a visual person so seeing pictures puts a story in my head. I guess posting is my way of telling a story. As far as being public or private, I’m a private user because I don’t think it’s necessary for strangers to see my pictures, especially since I’m not a professional, so am not using it to promote my photography.
- Twitter: Oh Twitter! My mom was trying to explain it to my 90+ year old grandpa. She said it was like putting a note on the fridge that said, “Running out to the store, be back in 30.” Except it’s not that anymore. When my friend, Gina, and I had the radio show, we set up Twitter accounts. I’m not in the “in” crowd, nor do I totally understand it, but I do know some great connections have come of it and like minded people can encourage one another there. I, however, get barfy and have anxiety if I am on there too much because I don’t know how to really communicate on there and then I have this sense of missing out on connecting, if that makes sense at all…so, I sign off. Sharing articles is insightful and so I am encouraged when I see some of those on there, but I’m just not educated on all the “right” ways to use it, so I’m only on there once in a while.
- Pinterest: Friends told me about this, so I checked it out. I like looking at some of the pictures and have several boards. Sharing ideas is fun and inspiring, but I don’t look at Pinterest and think, “Oh man, I suck because I’m not doing that…” Again, I’m not sure I know how to use it correctly. I like being inspired by ideas but I’d also rather be in my basement creating things with my imagination and hands rather than scrolling the Internet for other peoples’ creativity. I am maybe on there once every few weeks, but I know if I was on there more, I’d have major anxiety with all there is out there TO DO and think, “Man, I should really be in my basement!”
- Google+: Again. What is this?
What it all boils down to, for me, is: margin and where my heart is.
Before Noah went into the hospital, my friend gave me a book called, “One Minute of Margin” by Dr. Richard Swenson. It’s about creating margin, or space, either physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, but simplifying our lives. A modern twist is Jen Hatmaker’s book, “7.” The point is, the more we have and are stimulated by, the more overwhelmed we feel. The more bandwidth, the easier it is to breathe.
Contrary to American culture: Less is actually so much more.
When I feel overwhelmed, like with actual anxiety, usually triggered by reading too many media posts by others or scrolling any of the above mentioned media venues, I know I have to step back. My knee jerk, dream reaction would be to go to a deserted sustainable island where I could have fish, seaweed, and coconuts and a great tan and no electricity and live forever doing Yoga and praying in the Spirit to my Heavenly Father all the live long day. Since that ain’t gonna happen, I close my laptop, chuck my phone in my purse, and start thanking God for His love for me. I pray for everyone He puts on my heart, prayers for God’s love to be known in our hearts amidst the crazy clutter with which we’ve filled our lives. With which I’ve filled my life...
…and the crazy thing? Well, when I chuck all media, I actually get stuff done, as well as face to face connect with real people in tangible ways, here on this earth, where real hands are held, wet tears are shed, laughter lines are deepened, and the warmth of friendship and family brings real live healing and hope.
Friggin’ profound, isn’t it?
Love”hearing”your thoughts. Love hearing what you are doing. I admire what you do & how you live even when it might seem small to you. Cuz you live big. And that encourages me.
Case in point of being reconnected via SM…ahhh, the two-edge sword 😉
Love this and completely relate to all but the food!! 🙂
Thanks, friend. I’m just trying to find my balance…
I confess, I did NOT read your entire post (sorry, i was overwhelmed by all the words, acutally hee hee). But I am frequently more honest and open on FB than in real life. I JUST realized (like yesterday) that i have used fb to fEEL connected and I have hid the fact that I have built walls and closed myself off in the fact that I’m very connected on Fb. Sigh. I have got some work to do….
Thanks for your honesty, Kathryn. I haven’t “arrived” when it comes to balance regarding SM, so please don’t take that away…but yes, we users of media, do all have some balancing to do. I mean, if all the electricity on earth went out, would we have real live people to sit around our fires?
There are days when I’m so thankful for encouragement that I “find” via social media (like your posts!) and days when I seriously question it all. For now, I’m still keeping my SM connections open and trying to be intentional about their use. Thanks for thinking out loud for us! 🙂
Thanks for your encouragement, friend! I know there is much good in SM, but like I said below with Kathryn B, I think deep down my question to myself is: do we have tangible connections where we can do life with authenticity? Because I know you do, but I know many lonely people on FB who are truly crying out…just thinking aloud, as you said…
I’m pretty much in sync with all that you have written. I will admit that in this last year I have not made it through one book cover to cover. I have walked away from organized church and my day to day relationships have become very strained. Considering the circumstances I think it’s all part of this journey. Social media for me has been my outlet. I get very angry at many of the things posted and then have to step back and understand that people’s lives move on and right now I’m seeing life through very blurred glasses that most other people with never ever have to look through. I can, however, escape to a place where I can connect to people and feel refreshed and happy if even for a short period in the day just seeing that there is happiness and hope out there. (does that make any sense?) It’s crazy. I have a real love/hate relationship with all of it, but I’m really thankful for it as well. I think I’d be lost in a very deep and dark hole without the encouragement from so many especially through FB.
Thanks for sharing, Ginger! I definitely don’t despise it, as I’ve met awesome people like you and many others on here…and family and friends have formed because of it. Unfortunately, and fortunately, you meet people in similar phases of the journey (the hard ones, specifically) but to have walked any of it alone would have been worse than walking it at all. I’m more grieved that among bloggers comparison and competition have formed, rather than what we all experienced in the initial days of camaraderie. I’m so grateful for what you and Lindsey and Beto have on-line as far as encouragement and support! That’s another example of it being used for beauty! xoxox