Who are we asking to witness?
There are things I have lost in the years since social media made its way into everyone's lives...presence, margin,white space, time...shall I go on? I log on to be inspired but rather than being spurred on to some creative process, I find myself just deadened by all the white noise and overstimulation. What was at first entertaining has now become loathsome and detrimental. How many "obsessions" do I have to read about before a blogger becomes content with what they have and uses their platform to promote a lifestyle of gratitude? Granted I have no time to shop so I appreciate the links for cute sweaters but multiple links a day, everything just being "to die for"--it has all become too much. And then the political posts--everyone thought they would die down after the primaries, then the elections. If you don't believe in the sinful nature of (wo)man, you will after witnessing people tear each other apart on a post about whether or not an elected official's child has a disability, all with the protection of a computer screen and keyboard. No opinion is valued, no experience sacred. It has my brain churning on where I stand on all of this. Do I share my thoughts in hopes that someone might see some light or feel validated or reach out as a friend? Probably not--my skin is not thick enough for the barrage of people waiting to tell me all the reasons I am wrong; to believe in life or Christ or family or public school or climate change. And then if I take the stance of not getting involved, am I chickening out? Am I not engaging? What news coverage will I miss? What breaking news? What knowledge will I not gain by logging off? The internet has also given me so much.
I've been convicted since the start of the new year to withdraw and set boundaries within social media. I love the articles and education I get through plugging in online but mostly it creates anxiety and a desire to draw inward. I find myself engaging less and less with friends that post frequently. I think if we had a talk about religion over coffee, it would be a loving exchange where an all caps post on "why evangelicals are ignorant" seems to be a sign in their yard telling me I am no longer a part of their friend group, online or otherwise. It is a strange new world and yet there is nothing new under the sun. But I know that I am tired of knowing people based on what they share online. I want hugs and coffee dates and real life exchanges. I want kids running around the backyard with sweaty drink glasses in hand discussing meal planning, new shoes and heartaches of the last week. I want to be a witness to my friends' lives in real time. I want to know what their children are up to because they tell me. I don't want the highlight reel, I want my front steps to be a place where stories are told and lives are laid bare.
I've thought about why I post pictures to IG or Facebook--it is all about creating an image or selling something or sharing knowledge. When I find myself thinking about something to post or crossing boundaries in time spent on social media, I have come to realize it stems from the desire for someone to witness my life. I think we must all have that desire. That it must be innate. We post so that others will see us--what we are doing, what we are about. Validation. I think we must have this desire because there is a witness to our lives. We have this innate desire to be seen because Christ created us as His own. He does see us--He created us for relationship with hHim. He loves us and wants to share in our struggles and pain and joys. I think of the mirror image of Christ's relationship with the church, marriage and how the greatest part of marriage and friendship is that you bear witness to each other's lives. You are not doing it alone. I love when Bert and bring up something from our children's babyhood that only we know and laugh about. We were there--we did it together. I find comfort knowing that one day our family will have secrets and memories akin to our time together. We are in relationship and bear witness to each other's lives. I want to challenge myself in the coming weeks to find rest and pleasure in being a creation of God--that His witness is all I need. I don't want to cultivate situations or pictures or videos in the hope that my followers will think of me a certain way. Because they are all looking through their own lens. What I say and do will look different to them no matter how I try to present it. I would like to set some boundaries and find validation in my everyday existence--as a child of God, not in the next comment or picture posted.
Not a single person reads here and I do still want to document my children's lives in a space that can't be deleted, lost or crashed--learned that one the hard way. I am hoping to create some space for creativity, for worship, for presence. I hope I can come here to write and share without the criticism of other social media. Without having to see the tearing apart of communities and friends and political parties. I don't want to go viral or share. I am hoping to log off more often and shed the desire to share moments with the world but more with those close enough to see the moments in real time.
But I will keep this as a memory keeper. Sadly the kids' quote books are pretty slim but I hope I can share a few thoughts about their day a couple times a week. Because the present is too good and should be documented to preserve the memory of its witnesses.