Posts Tagged ‘social media

06
Oct
20

“Well, I declare!”

It is one thing to know who you are.

Today, after 60 plus years of trial and error and experimentation, I feel as if I am finally getting a handle on my own identity.

However, it is quite another thing entirely to DECLARE that identity to the world. 

And in today’s media-saturated world, none of us is lacking in opportunity for making multiple, unfettered personal DECLARATIONS.

If I choose, for example, I can declare my identity through my bumper stickers, yard signs, T-shirts, and the flags I fly. I can tell you all about me through my Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter feeds. 

I can let my clothes and hair tell my story. 

I suppose if I had the money, I could hire the Goodyear blimp to fly around town displaying a message that told you all about me.

But why? What is behind this DECLARE-A-PALOOZA we are so caught up in these days?

  • Maybe it is something we are trying to sell… something, for example, like an image of ourselves that we hope is true, but that we know really isn’t.
  • Maybe we’re searching for solidarity… hoping that our declaration will serve as a signal beacon to others who are similarly wired… inviting them to come and stand with us.
  • Or maybe we declare because we feel a little shaky about our identity. Maybe we hope our proud declaration will infuse a little reinforcing steel in our spines. 

I suppose any of those rationales are possible. 

Whatever the case, let me now – with confidence – make this declaration to you: YOU (Yes, you!) are a beloved child of God… the Eternal One… the Creator of the Universe… the Unsynonymous… the Alpha and Omega.

The words of 1 John 1:3 make a very similar declaration: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are…”

I remind you of that aspect of your identity because I regularly need to be reminded of that myself. For too many of my waking hours I am making and listening to all kinds of other, conflicting declarations about who I really am.

But there is really only one declaration that really matters:

YOU ARE A BELOVED CHILD OF GOD.”

Now wouldn’t THAT make a great T-shirt!

Abundant blessings;

27
Mar
18

My own Facebooklessness

Facebook iconSomething had to change. And it had to change soon.

I would compare the feeling I was dealing with to the very earliest nibblings of an oncoming head cold… you know; those times when you know something is a little out of kilter but you’re not entirely sure what it is.

I looked and saw my normally puckish, buoyant outlook on life taking on unfamiliar, churlish overtones… I noticed my already woefully short attention span getting even shorter. I noticed that I seemed to be more reactive and less thoughtful and deliberate.

The guy looking back from the mirror didn’t seem nearly as likable as he did a few short years ago.

Alarmed at where symptoms like these might eventually lead, I did my own armchair diagnosis.

The diagnosis? Acute Facebookitis!

The cure? Phased withdrawal from the social media miracle known as Facebook.

According to the Facebook stats page, I have been a part of that universe since 2008. (Is that really possible?)

And for the most part, I have really LOVED it!

  • Where else can one find a platform from which to dispense one’s own slightly off-center commentary on the world and know that many more than two or three people sitting around your dining room table will hear it?
  • Where else can you go and regularly see pictures of family members who live 2,000 miles away from you?
  • And where else – pray tell – can you go and take a quiz to clarify which month you REALLY should have been born in?

But it was becoming increasingly clear to me: ever since entering semi-retirement, I have been spending waaaay too much time Facebooking. One sure-fire indicator (to me) that I was overdosing on this form of social media was my belief that posting my calm, rationally composed political views on Facebook would actually change someone else’s opinion!

I know… right?

And so… I started cutting back.

The first step was to remove the Facebook app from my phone. YIKES! That step was HUGE. I had no idea – until after the fact – how much time I spent every day mindlessly picking up my phone, tapping that friendly, blue icon and peeping in on the spiffed up, sanitized lives of a whole bunch of different people.

I didn’t realize it at first, but I soon became aware that I usually came away from that time feeling somehow “less than”. Studies have now shown conclusively that people who passively scroll through Facebook are more prone to depression than others. Psychologists theorize that this is because we look at the exciting and glamorous posts from our friends and judge our own lives to be rather shabby in comparison.

And let’s not even get started on political “discussions” on Facebook. Treading onto this turf guarantees one of two things will most certainly happen: 1.) You will be loudly affirmed and encouraged to continue holding the views you now hold, or 2.) You will be ridiculed, mocked, belittled, and condemned to hell for those same views.

And honestly… I am not sure either of those results helps me grow as a person.

I am pleased to tell you that removing the Facebook app from my phone brought an unexpected level of tranquility into my life. Since it was no longer there to check, I was instantly cured of the twitchy, impulsive practice of taking out my phone and “just checking.” I was actually free to lift up my eyes, talk to people around me, and notice the subtle shadings of spring beginning to appear.

And then came the season of Lent… that great time of self-denial and reflection on the Christian calendar. Could I go completely cold turkey and even give up Facebook on my laptop?

Here we are, in the last week of Lent, and I am happy to report that the withdrawal has been (mostly) painless. Since February 14 I have not maligned or been maligned by political adversaries. I have not tested my I.Q., or found out my celebrity crush, or investigated the amazing array of skin rejuvenation products available. I have not snarked or jeered at the fates of the basketball teams of my friends.

And not once have I pined for a life other than the one I am living right now!

On the other hand, I have also not congratulated anyone on their son or daughter’s piano recital, seen the photos of my siblings’ European vacation, told a high school buddy “Happy Birthday” or marveled at the wit and faith of one of my pastor pals.

In the end, I guess I have to conclude that Facebook is a lot like fire; kept under control and used judiciously and carefully it has an enormous capacity for good. Used mindlessly it can cause enormous harm.

Facebook – and all other forms of social media – are tools. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is up to you and me to use them wisely.




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