Friends have been emailing and texting the last few weeks, worried that something was terribly wrong with me, or with us...
Please be assured that everything is wonderful around here.
I've gathered the concerns stem from the absence of my presence on social media lately. Once I explain that we are fine, and nothing is wrong, and we are doing well, everyone wants to know why. So...here you go. I'll tell you.
It wasn't a spontaneous decision. It was made over time, after some discontentment, followed by some introspection and prayer.
1. I erroneously believed that to be a good friend, I had to stay updated on all social media. And then I realized I was spending entirely too much of my time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Scrolling through social media was the first thing I did when my alarm went off in the mornings, and my last activity before drifting off to sleep at night. But it wasn't making me a better friend. I didn't realize when my real-life friend was going through a rough time at work, or our friends' marriage was falling apart, but I knew that a girl I played soccer with thirty years ago spent her days at work watching youtube videos of cats dancing in tutus. It was a waste of my time and brain energy. I realized there would be days when I hadn't read a page or written a paragraph, but I kept up with what some girl from my Bible study ten years ago had for breakfast. You know, the girl I'm praying doesn't see me shopping on the next aisle at Whole Foods. It was just too much.
2. I was tired of people not being real. Like the guy from my 8th grade history class who liked to post pictures of "sunset dinners with his beautiful wife." Oh yeah, the girl he hooked up with on an overseas business trip, and then abandoned his wife and four kids for. Or the guy from French class at A&M, who seems like a super fun guy that everyone likes to hang out with, but in reality, he lives at home with his mom and he can't drive because he's gotten so many DUIs. I want the truth. I like you more when you are real. I want to know when your kids are being obnoxious, or you're still in your PJs at pickup time, or sometimes that marriage just sucks but it's still worth it. Real life is not always lunch time cocktails at Gloria's and shopping trips to Northpark. There's got to be more to life than the perfect shade of blonde hair or the latest spa treatments.
3. Sometimes people seem surprised because I can, at times, be friendly and outgoing, but I am greatly introverted. I don't need very much interaction with other people to feel satisfied and content. And I realized that online connections do not substitute for real community! Since I have stopped using social media, I've been spending real life with real people to fulfill my desire for interaction. I feel like I am a better wife, a better mama, and a better friend.
4. Self promotion! The teenage selfies are bothersome, but I really just feel sorry for those kids. They are obviously needing attention or validation. I remember being a teenager, and I am thanking the Lord there was no social media back then. I wasn't getting any attention or love at home, so I am sure I would have looked for it online. But the 40 year old women selfies are so much worse! ugh. I believe there are only a few occasions that call for selfies and they are all accompanied by "delete as soon as you see this" texts. Tragically cutting your own bangs, new bald spots from alopecia, evidently waxing your eyebrows with your head crooked...all ok when sent to your sister-in-law. When you don't get to watch the last episode of Parenthood with your best friend, sending her a pic of your teary face = perfect. And I'm all about the sexy pics if you are sending them TO YOUR HUSBAND. I am amazed by women who share really inappropriate photos with the whole world. I don't know how to react to that. There's also a very real fear of missing out, but I truly believe people aren't upset when they miss out on an activity...I think they just feel it's "bad advertising" when they miss out on the photo op. How will the world know how great their lives are if every step isn't documented? It's taken away the real joy and beauty of life and experiences and travel and love.
5. "Friends" can be so mean on social media. In the name of tolerance, people are hateful to anyone with conservative beliefs. I've been made to feel ignorant and uneducated because our family believes and trusts in a Heavenly Father, because we vote against abortion, because we believe in capitalism, because we approve of drug tests for welfare recipients or IDs for registered voters, and because we own guns and we hunt. I try to never get involved in an online political discussion, and honestly, I don't know that anyone truly knew my political stance until reading it just now. The one time I did have an opinion, it was not received well, and I felt reprimanded by friends who stand on the opposite end of the political spectrum. But in my defense, it was a baseball game, and baseball's our thing, and the president wore mom jeans and threw like a girl. I don't care what political party you belong to; just put on a pair of man jeans and throw a strike. It would make me feel more secure in your role as the leader of our country. It goes both ways, though. Friends, you are not winning any souls to Jesus when you are treating other people with condemnation. LET ALL THAT YOU DO BE DONE IN LOVE. 1 Corinthians 16:14. Love people.
6. I realized I didn't feel safe and secure with our life "out there" on social media. I had a dead bolt on my childhood bedroom door because one of my brothers was so physically, emotionally and verbally abusive to me. The other brother, in a drug-induced psychosis seven years ago, vowed to kill the boys and me, so we "wouldn't have to suffer in this world anymore." We have had a visit from a bounty hunter looking for one of them, and we receive arrest warrants in the mail and phone calls from bill collectors, even though we have no relationship with anyone in my family. Not being on social media helps me feel a little hidden.
I loved staying in contact with family and friends who live far away. I loved keeping up with friends from high school and college. I loved celebrating your child's accomplishments and seeing your vacation pictures, and it was an honor to approach the throne of God with your prayer requests. I'll still keep in touch...just email or text me. I'll be here.