Real World Realities in a Virtual World

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Real World Realities in a Virtual World

The other day I heard someone say, “I am so jealous of so in so, her Facebook status updates are always so glamorous and her life seems full of exotic trips, amazing homemade creations, and countless romantic surprises by her husband…my life will never be like that!”  I am sure you have been privy to conversations like this as well; maybe you have even been lamenting the woes of your own life based on the status updates of others?  If you have found yourself here then take heart because you don’t have to fall into despair via social networking sites.  Sure, it would be easy for me to simply tell you to get off the computer and shut it down but in this day and age that is easier said than done.  Lots of us use social networking for our careers and Facebook is just another outlet for advertising.  So if we aren’t going to remove it completely how are we to remind ourselves of truth when we read that someone “just got all new Carrera marble countertops for the kitchen and baths…finally things are looking pulled together around here, now if only the housekeeper would get here!” You don’t need me to tell you, but I am going to remind you anyway, that Facebook status updates aren’t a true example of real life. Anyone can’t paint a glamorous online reality of their lives and we as the reader are oblivious as to whether these statements are true or not.  When it comes to social networking, online snapshots never give us the whole picture.  When it seems as if your 857 “friends” all have gorgeous pictures of their vacations and are cooking with organic produce 7 nights a week never once pulling out a box of mac n’ cheese, remember…Everyone has a bad day every once in a while, but no one likes to post that on Facebook!  Vulnerability is a tricky thing; we all crave it but we hesitate to lead the way in sharing our struggles. At first glance I sometimes think how nice it would be if people were more honest online.  Wouldn’t it be so refreshing if it was more the norm to see, “frozen waffles for dinner tonight because I just had one of those days, motherhood really is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have!”  I would love to see more updates like this one because it tells me that my online friends are real and not Uber-individuals that always have it all together.  Unfortunately, Facebook and other social media can lend itself to virtually portraying whatever you want people to think of you.  It leads the reader always feeling less than and the temptation of the writer to gain her self worth and confidence from how many “likes” she gets on the dinner menu she has written for all the world to see. So while vulnerability is appealing if they are honest, what about when that vulnerability comes with slander, bitterness, jealousy, and discord? I am sure you have been privy to a status update that maligns someone’s spouse or throws their co-workers under the bus and frankly they can be awkward to read.  Ouch, what are we as readers (who are “friends” for that matter) supposed to do about it?  Sure, it feels good to vent and it can even be beneficial to talk frustrating things out with a trusted mentor or friends but I would caution those of you who are tempted to do so on the Internet. If you are prone to only use the Internet as an emotional outlet when you are struggling look to the book of Proverbs for timeless wisdom…

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”

~ Proverbs 16:21

I think it is always a good idea to ask yourself why you are posting something on Facebook.  Are you looking for affirmation or encouragement?  Do you need to have someone respond in order to make yourself feel better?  Then I would counsel you to log off the Internet and log on and in to the word of God. He will “like” you no matter what.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30

While we are on the topic of things we like and dislike, let’s get honest with each other here:  It feels good when someone “likes” what we have to say, especially when it generates a lot of buzz and thanks to the new settings on Facebook, our update/picture/thought has moved to the top of everyone’s feed based on the amount of hits it is getting that day.  Yeppers, that strokes our ego a little bit and suddenly we are feeling better about ourselves because we have gotten a lot of online instant gratification.  There is something very wrong with this picture.  I dislike that women, and teenagers especially, are finding fulfillment in how their online musings are received; and are equally heartbroken when they wear their emotions on their sleeves for the entire world to see and no one responds in a fashion that they expected they would. Friends, Facebook or not, if you need someone else to tell you that you are smart, funny, worthy of love, clever, wonderful, the best Mom ever, fill–in-the-blank, enough then you have forgotten the heart of the gospel message.  We are loved not by anything we have done but because Jesus loved us so much that in our worst, most un-glamorous-and-never-going-to-share-this-on-Facebook-state, he died for us so that we could have life. (Romans 5:8) Now that is something worth sharing on Facebook!

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