The Merits of Social Media
I couldn’t remember her name. I was sitting in front of my computer screen, there wasn’t even any pressure and I could not recall her name. Easily I pictured her face and felt the warmth of her cheerful attitude and genuine heart. But for the life of me, her name eluded me.
Naturally, I turned to social media, Facebook specifically, for assistance. Surly you’ve done it too. Though it felt narcissistic I navigated to head to my personal page (let’s be real, we all do it more than we care to admit) to look specifically at my “friends”. That’s exactly how most of us view them, right? “Friends” perfectly encapsulated in parenthesis.
Many people today look to their social media vice and friend count for assurance they are still relevant, still building instead of becoming a social obscurity.
Snob or Snoop?
I’m a cross between a snob and snoop, maybe you’re like me? I stopped adding “friends” a long time ago, mostly because my personal and professional life dramatically merged and it started getting weird. Seriously, my professional world doesn’t need (or want) to know about my child’s birthday party or the dinner I prepared…and maybe they do and I want to keep some things private….
It’s not that I think I’m a somebody, I know I’m a nobody, but I know anybody can find what they want through technology and I mostly keep my kids off the screen. Because I don’t like broadcasting my kids and what’s closest to my heart to the public unlimited texting and airdrop are my kin. I take the added time to personally send pictures and real-time “status updates” to those who know me best. But I like my social media “friends”, actually, I love them dearly.
Some people complain that as they swipe and scroll it’s a whirlpool of endless negativity broadcasted by their “friends”. This isn’t a problem I face because I have really great people in my life, people charged to face life with an optimistic attitude. It’s not just the Christians in my sphere, it’s a standard through my feeds.
Growth of the Social Age is Painful
The growth of the social age is painful. Some knee-jerk to sharing everything (ever heard of TMI?) or leading us to believe life is A++ (as if!). And WE feed it! We love to hate the perfect life portrayers and love to love the disgruntled haters. It’s so backwards.
We seek “social proof” but what we’re really wondering, dying to know, is if someone is human. We see the censored, carefully curated version of a person’s life across the platforms, but we all wonder, do you make mistakes? Is that even possible? Your skin looks flawless (and your more than twice my age). Your kids are the epitome of scholar meets artist (as if that’s humanly possible) and you travel everywhere all the time (as if your omnipotent).
I’ve almost done the proverbial “purge”. We’ve all seen it, “Comment on this or you’re not really my friend and I’ll delete you” manipulation but something stops me every time. Social media “friends” are different from IRL (in real life) friends but a friend loves at all times. “Friends” and friends don’t dessert each other over petty feelings and disagreements. (I’d otherwise have no friends of any kind.)
As I struggled to remember her name and opted to scroll through my collection of “friends” my heart swelled. This is why I’ve never been able to purge. These people are my friends.
Some I’ve known since KINDERGARTEN, others I shared a fleeting part of my timeline with while living somewhere or working someplace and guess what? I STILL LIKE THEM!
We All Love It!
As much as we outwardly talk about how “terrible social media is” (for our own reasons) we all love it. (I surly do!)
I love being able to stay in touch with those I’ve shared even a smidge of life with. I’ve lived in three states, worked at five schools, have friends that moved to completely different continents…you get the idea…the more you live, the more your life spreads out and there are people we genuinely want to keep in touch with. For the first time in history we’re able to KIT (remember writing that in yearbooks?) with those we share a small link of time with.
Keeping in Touch
Keeping in touch doesn’t mean best friends forever. For each of those little 800 x 300 profile pics there’s a special link, a shared memory that can never be erased. There’s an understanding, a congenial attitude that at any point the person is welcome into your life.
Scrolling through images I realized how many people God used (and is using) to influence my life and shape me into who I am today and tomorrow. Friends from Denver who welcomed the new girl and coached her into motherhood to the friends from childhood who love me despite flaws only they can pinpoint. Friends from my rock climbing obsessed days and friends who knew me by a different last name.
There are the friends who anchored my wandering heart and spoke hard truth when they could easily have made me feel good and there are those I’ve been blessed to cross paths with professionally. These professionals don’t really “know me” but in private groups, where touch-ups don’t exist, these people are my role models and I learn better how to balance calling and purpose from their experience and willingness to share, shape and guide those on the path behind them.
There are more “fun friends” than I can count! Those people you share dinner with, meet through a mutual friend or at an event and it seems like they should be forever friends. Those friends we make well-intentioned future plans with, “Come over for dinner!” rolls off the lips easily, but naturally because they could be seriously awesome friends….if we had more time.
Social Media Buys Us Time
Social media gives us a bit more time. In many instances our roots might be shallow, but our hearts are deep, more importantly, capable. Social media connects us in an unprecedented way, and let’s be honest, it’s not all bad.
I Found Her
When I found her face I Instantly recognized her beaming smile. I felt a little silly for not recalling her name, but all that seemed lost in the moment of remembering the wonderful person she is and the impression she made on my heart.
It also got me wondering, will I simply be a standard image in someone’s circle or someone God uses to influence another life?
What do you think you will be?
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