“So I tend to think of life in terms of movie clips or tweetable moments. Somehow I’ve convinced myself they last longer that way. My wife proved me wrong when she referred to my phone as my black wife. I thought it was funny, we both giggled, now single men, take notes. Now I’m no expert, but I don’t think she was kidding. She talked about some other stuff, which I really don’t remember. I was too busy in my head, composing a tweet where I would quote her with some sort of clever hashtag about marriage and about how much I love her, to be paying attention to her at that moment. I think what snapped me back in was the silence which indicated I was supposed to have some sort of response to whatever she was talking about.”
If that doesn’t describe the reality of the world around us, I’m not sure what else could. The above comes from an artist by the name of Propaganda. If you care to listen to that entire track, feel free to do so here before you go any further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5y2GKk6sOI
Before we go any further, I don’t want you to hear what Propaganda is saying there and feel as if he’s coming down on you. I don’t want you to read this short entry from me and feel as if I’m pointing down at you and saying you suck, fix yourself. Instead, Prop and I are both in the trenches with you, battling the addiction we all seem to have in regards to our little handheld commitments. We are here to help make known the war that is being waged on us, and encourage one another in truth, in how to fight back and defeat this beast of an enemy.
I say all of that to say this: phones and social media are not sinful. They can’t be. They do not have souls and Jesus did not die on the cross for a stinkin’ piece of plastic and metal, nor did he die on the cross for double taps, likes, and retweets. So then why am I still typing?
I’m continuing to type, because I realize the problem begins with us. Much like many other things in life, we tend to overuse and abuse technology and social media. There are SO MANY amazing things that we have access to through the use of such things, however we all too often use these tools in harmful ways. Unfortunately, we primarily only recognize the obvious and explicit negative affects when someone bashes someone else, puts all of their dirty laundry out there for everyone to see, and post other ridiculous things that we are all probably guilty of doing at some point or another. While there could be much written about those things, I want to take a look at what I believe to be, a much more dangerous effect of our marriage to social media.
Whether or not you’re a believer in Christ or not, I feel confident in saying that most people hear the term “idol,” and picture a little golden statue or something of the sort. We picture someone worshipping this little wooden figure and that’s about as far deep as our understanding of an idol goes. However, as Tim Keller puts it: “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” Unfortunately, idols sneak up and devour us much easier than we understand or would like to admit. How do I know this? I’m the chief example of this happening my own life, over and over again; especially when it comes to social media.
To keep this from being long winded, I want to share what I’ve learned firsthand, in the hopes that you don’t go blindly into this war, like I so often have.
If nothing else, social media is a time and relationship killer. The more time we spend looking at the lives of others through a device, reality is, the more we are contributing to the downfall of the relationships and work in our own lives. We’ve all been sitting at a table with people who actually care about us, while giving more attention to people in our phones who probably could care less about us. Even more true, we’re all guilty of posting a picture of those around us, while the checking every few seconds to see how many people saw our “picture perfect” scene of life we are living that day. At this point, we aren’t spending that quality time with those around us; we are wasting time waiting for the approval and praise of others. Plain and simple, we’ve got to stop ruining the relationships right in front of us, for the grass that appears greener on the other side.
But, let’s move on.
Social media is simply what it’s titled. It is a main means of mass communication where we enjoy sharing the details of our lives with those who are connected to us. However, that definition in itself is flawed if we are honest with ourselves.
All too often, social media takes the form of a highlight reel. If you’re a sports fan, you’ve seen this. Highlight reels are jam packed with the best plays from any given day in sports. We don’t normally see footage of a player striking out 3 times before finally hitting the game winner on his 4th at bat. They only show the final game winner, because that’s what matters, right? Why is that? We don’t seem to be too concerned with the ugly, as long as things seem pretty on the outside. We should not be surprised of this. No one wants to put the difficult aspects of day to day life on there. While our struggles influence us tremendously, we don’t want anyone else to realize we don’t have it all together. We’re afraid of the discomfort we might feel when we actually admit that we struggle with our pride, patience, jealousy, and anything else we could name.
On a much more serious note, the highlight reel that is social media, hides the reality of desperation and struggle that we all face in different chapters and crevices in our lives. We see these cleaned up, cropped, and filtered pictures of ourselves, those in our lives, and whatever activity we may be taking part in. Not only do we post these, but we expect there to be likes and comments and double taps and retweets and any and every form of praise and flattery we can receive. This instant gratification feels amazing the first few times we get a few people showing us some “love,” and then we hunger for more likes and more attention. We have this craving, that cannot be filled with more attention and flattery from others. This craving we all have, is to be known and loved and completely fulfilled. That true fulfillment can only come through a right relationship with God. No matter what we try to fill that hole in our hearts with, if it isn’t Jesus, we will spend every breath of our lives feeling unfulfilled and empty.
Ultimately, our worth isn’t in how many likes or retweets we pull. You aren’t a better person, parent, athlete, singer, designer, or (fill in your role here) if you get tons of “love” and recognition on social media! Thankfully, we aren’t worse either when we don’t see those same results! Our worth is in the person and being of Jesus Christ and his life, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. Why? Because apart from Christ, we are worthless. Apart from a loving relationship with our Father, the Creator who hung each star so precisely in the sky, we have no worth. We would live and we would die, with no true purpose because it would all fade away after our blimp of time here on this planet. Praise be to God that He sees us as screwed up as we are, and He still calls us to Him. He loves us, pursues us, and wants us. No matter how jacked up we make things, He continues to want us. Praise be to God, that because of Him, we have worth and we have access to a restored loving relationship with Him.
I want to end this, in the similar way I began: With another quote from this same piece from Prop. I appreciate you hanging with me this long, and I pray this is a conversation we can have and share with one another, as we fight this beast together.
“That’s why I’m telling you this, son. You can’t rush her, or slow her down! You better keep her on your side. She will slip through your fingers like sand. Her name is time! She told me a secret: She said multitasking is a myth. You ain’t doing anything good, just everything awful. And she begged me to stop stretching her thin and stuffing her full, and stop being so concerned ith the old her, and future her, and love her, now. Her presence, is God’s present, and you should be that: PRESENT.
Well I guess I can say, I’ve been through a divorce now. Me and my phone are no longer married.
I think I’m ready to be here, now.”