Today I watched a very powerful, artistic, and convicting video on Facebook. It featured a spoken word performance about the negative effect that social media has had on our lives, referring to them as the “unsocial networks” and the “pageantry of vanity” that we can all get sucked into.
And I agree whole-heartedly that too often I miss out on things because I am glued to my phone. That too often I get caught up in presenting a whole lot of frosting without considering the cake.
With my eyes full of tears I decided to set my phone down, unplug from the interwebs, and just be present here in my house, here in my town.
But then the red circle caught my eye.
A little number 1 to let me know that someone had something to say, something to communicate, something I needed to know.
And I postponed my technology fast for just a second to see what was there for me. What I found made me stop and rethink everything.
Seven little words that have been on my mind all day:
“Thank you, Jane. I love you too.”
You see, today a dear friend of mine was heading to the doctor for some tests. Tests that no woman ever wants to have, the outcome of which would produce unspeakable joy, or unspeakable heartache.
So this morning I wrote a quick note to let her know I was thinking of her and praying for her, and that I loved her.
And she wrote me back.
As I thought about this I thought about the good that comes from social media and through the little text box happy face thing on my phone.
Last night I connected with another dear friend, just a simple chat and way to say, “Hey, you matter. We’re a thousand miles away from each other, but you are still a vital part of our lives.”
Throughout the day I can check in on other friends just to say, “Hey. I’m thinking of you. How about those Giants?”
My kids can connect with those who have helped shaped their lives and who continue to shape their lives, even though we don’t live across the street from each other anymore.
I agree that communicating face to face would be better than in messages, but the geography of our country and the choices we’ve made in life do not permit that at this moment.
So while the issues presented in the video are very real, is the problem with social media? Is the problem with my phone?
The problem is with me.
The problem is when I put my wants, needs, and comfort above the wants, needs, and comfort of others. When I would rather serve myself than connect with those around me.
And this happens with or without my phone, with or without social media.
When I choose Facebook over my children, Facebook isn’t the problem. When I choose television over my children, television isn’t the problem. When I choose a book over my children, the book isn’t the problem.
The problem is me.
When I choose to tune my husband out while I scan Pinterest, Pinterest isn’t the problem. When I choose to read the seedy gossip about celebrities, TMZ isn’t the problem. When I choose to look at Instagram and covet the lives my friends are living, Instagram isn’t the problem.
Again, the problem is me.
The problem is my heart, the constant struggle of Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
But the good news is that I don’t have to face that struggle alone.
As I sat across from another friend tonight, I realized that I need that type of interaction too. I need in-person community. I need to build new relationships.
Sharing our lives over a cup of coffee, eye contact, and the awkward silences as we get to know each other are all very good.
But the goodness of in-person relationships does not mean that the long distance relationships are bad.
And it does not mean that the technology that keeps those long distance relationships going is bad.
It means that I have a choice. I have a choice to do the right thing. I have a choice to use the incredible technology available to me as a way to reach out to people, and let them know that my heart is with them even when I am not.
And I have a choice to resist the negative aspects of technology. I don’t have to visit certain sites. I don’t have to get sucked into petty arguments and meaningless debates.
I have a choice to put down my phone when my husband wants to talk, or my kids want to show me their latest Lego creation.
The choice is mine.
And I’m not alone.
I have a community of friends, both here in my small town and around the world, to help me make the right choices.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24
See you soon.