I’ve had a blog post rumbling around in my brain for the past 16 days since I wrote last. Since then, ordination has come and gone (with plenty of tears on my part), VBS has come and gone (with minimal tears and minimal sleep), and I’m taking a day off on a Monday for the first time since I started my new job last August. It comes well deserved after a 53 hour work week, and I am spending as much time with my couch as I possibly can.
However, down time means social media time for me, and today that has been hard. This weekend has been hard. Social media always shows us the best and the worst in people – the posts of joy over babies, engagements, weddings, and parties or vacations with friends and family sit right above or below the posts about families searching for a missing loved one after a boating accident, detailing funeral arrangements, rants against political figures, or the divisive words of those on one side or the other of social issues. I found myself scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning and feeling incredibly anxious because of the tension that I was feeling after reading the words of those I follow. And yet, I’ve been on Twitter (and Facebook and Instagram) probably 25 times each since this morning. For many, possibly myself included, social media is a habit that reaches addiction levels, and can easily take over a huge part of our lives.
Yet, as much anxiety and tension as it causes me, I still use it and use it often. I think this is true for me because social media shows me insight into the people around me. I can see how a YoungLife student is doing halfway across the country, how my family is doing in the weeks that I don’t get to see them, how my favorite sports teams are doing, and what is happening in my country and the world around me. Even when I can’t be everywhere and know everything, I get glimpses on social media, and that in a way is life giving to me. I see the good and the bad and the sweet and the bitter, and it reminds me that our lives aren’t just our own. Not only are they in hands much bigger and more capable than ours, but our lives are interconnected with those around us in ways that we can’t control. My life lies next to the lives of my neighborhood, my city, my family, my church, and even with people that I have never and will never meet. I am not my own.
Does this interconnected-ness redeem all factors of social media for me? Absolutely not. Every day I delete tweets that will start a mini-war with certain people in my life, and filter Instagram posts to make myself look better in one way or another, or stare at an empty status box on Facebook because I feel like what I have to write isn’t important. Much of what I do see on these sites is fake, edited and filtered just so to show only the best of life.
However, even with these flaws, I am inspired by the people in my community who are real on social media, who are open about heart break and bad days and questioning faith. I am thankful for people who are positive in the face of criticism and mean words. And I most of all am thankful that, good and bad together, social media gives me a glimpse into the world around me that I often walk right through without seeing.
So will I check my social media apps any less tomorrow? Probably not. But, maybe I’ll remember that even in the negative and tension and stress, there is beauty to be found in the details of my life and the lives of those around me, and there is a life that is to be lived together, filters and edits and all.