Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bigger Than Social Media

I read another blog article the other day. The kind where someone is calling me to stop using Instagram, stop getting on Facebook, stop looking at Pinterest, and to stop reading blogs. You know the kind. If only I stop using social media my life will be much fuller, better, fulfilled, and more meaningful. 

The problem is that I don’t think that minimizing my usage or quitting is going to make me feel better about anything.  If I go on Pinterest and feel dissatisfied because I see a picture of The Perfect Kitchen, will I suddenly start being satisfied with everything I have if I never go back to Pinterest? If I’m on Facebook and see that everyone and their mother has been on a vacation in the past few months while I haven’t been on a vacation in the past couple of years, will I suddenly start feeling better if I never go on Facebook? I think not.

I get the point. Sort of. If the good parts of all of your friend’s lives are not right in your face whenever you are bored, you might find yourself a little less unsatisfied a little more often. I agree that real relationships cannot be built via the Internet. However, social media is not the cause of the problem. It’s you. It’s me. It’s the status of our hearts. If I get on Facebook or Pinterest and start feeling dissatisfied with my life or hurt by people because of their careless comments about who knows what, who is to blame? Facebook doesn’t cause me to be unhappy. And, to be honest, neither do any of those people. They didn’t post their comment with me in mind, trying to make me feel or be a certain way. No. It is just me. My response is all my own.

The crux of the issue is not whether or not I have a Facebook account, use Instagram, read blogs, or look at Pinterest. The question is did I wake up satisfied today? Did you wake up thankful for the things that you already have, for the blessings in your life? Did you give thanks for any of the things that you have before you opened up your computer and jumped online? Are you thankful that you are privileged enough to have a functional kitchen in a warm house before you got on Pinterest found the picture of The Perfect Kitchen?

Have you found enough satisfaction in the life that you live and lead so that you don’t need to go on vacation to enjoy the life that you already have? Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and see the world as much as anybody else, truly. I LOVE to travel. Love. Then we had three kids and decided to live on one income. But that didn’t negate the fact that I have dreamed of going to go to Italy since I was a little girl. Then all of my friends, and their friends, and the friends of friend’s acquaintances started going to Italy/wherever without me. And I didn’t want to look at their pictures online because they were doing something that was surely going to make me happy and I couldn’t go. But I couldn’t just stop looking at the pictures online as a remedy for my jealousy. What did that solve? I still saw friends, still heard travel stories, still knew that people went on trips – all without the help of social media. But after realizing that nobody I know has a more fulfilled life because of their vacations, I started to really evaluate my need to travel. Going to Italy wasn’t going to make my life better. Not to mention I am so blessed to be living the life that I have, I should be able to be completely satisfied and happy even if I never go to Italy or take another vacation ever. Italy sure would be fun, but it’s an expensive and extravagant form of fun (that I am sure I will partake of someday) that is not going to make me more Christ-like, more satisfied, or more content with my everyday life. 

If I am only asking myself the question, “Why do I look at Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest when all it does is make me feel unsatisfied?” I am really missing the question, “Have I found enough satisfaction in the life that I live and lead so that I don’t need to go on vacation to enjoy the life that I already have?” If I started to think that the only time I could really be happy is when I was traveling or vacationing, of course I was totally going to feel jealous or envious or dissatisfied every time I saw someone’s travel pictures. 

If I am not fully living here, right where I am, finding satisfaction with my everyday life and the things that I have, that is not the fault of social media. It is the fault of my own ungrateful heart. There is a reason why 1 Timothy 6:6 reads, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Being a follower of Christ and being content do not go hand in hand. If Eve had been content in the garden do you think she would have eaten the forbidden fruit? Being discontent and dissatisfied are at the core of our sinful selves, cutting out social media won’t fix that. If I think about how Jesus would live a life here, in the midst of social media and all that we have, I am not sure what Jesus would think. Personally, I don’t think Jesus would be campaigning to get everyone off Facebook . Instead I think he would call us all to examine our own hearts, to figure out why we feel dissatisfied or unhappy, and to change our hearts first of all. If changing our hearts resulted in less FB interactions, less Instagramming, and less computer time in general – well, great! I think he would just be calling us to live more Christ centered lives, and if we did all of those other things would become a little bit more irrelevant.


Amy Roberts said...

I think I read the same thing you read. I also felt the same thing you felt but I did not have to great words you did, thanks! :)

amy said...

This is so great! I think what social media makes hard is that you can't seem to get away from opportunities to compare yourself: your kids, how nice your husband is, your house, the kind of food you eat, how "healthy" you are, how smooth your life feels. Because people generally only post the positive things (and, let's be honest, who really wants to read every negative experience and thought that I have??), it is so EASY to feel like they surely have it better. But you are so right; at the root of that is our tendency to compare, to believe that what we're seeing is an accurate picture and that everyone else's life is better than our own. Personally, I have gone through seasons where I was feeling a general discontent and I did decide to step back from social media - not because my feelings were the fault of Facebook/blogs/Instagram, but because I needed to give myself more space to examine my heart and to return only when that form of media was beneficial to me. I think we all know what a BLESSING online community can be to us! And if we're having issues with comparing ourselves to others, like you said, we can do that very thing pretty easily without social media, if we have any relationships at all. That said, once you get to Italy, Heidi, I'm sure you won't take it for granted! And I hope it happens relatively soon. :)

Kristy said...

Wise words and I totally agree. I love you. I look up to you :) you are such an encouragement and inspirations to me.