Social Media is like a fickle lover

Eponine-A-Rose-in-Misery

“He slept a summer by my side, He filled my days with endless wonder,

He took my childhood in his stride, but he was gone when autumn came.”

“I Dreamed a Dream” From Les Miserable (Fantene)

Passionately singing this song, above the resounding notes of Sarah’s piano playing, the three girls in our family find this song  hauntingly beautiful. The image of a young girl, innocently convincing herself that she is deeply in love, giving her whole being to one who is there to consume her. When with child at the end of the summer, Eponine, the young girl, is left with scars, a pregnancy, responsibilities; her so-called lover is no where to be found.

Gripping my heart with its poignant insight, this song has hauntingly called to my heart of compassion for women since the first time I heard it sung on stage. Such a waste to see precious women taken, abused and then spit out to deal with soul devastation and rejection alone.

I meet so many precious young women who gave themselves so such men. Women, longing for love, acceptance, purpose, a place to belong and to be validated, gave their souls to one who could never be a source of long-term love, strength or goodness.

So many voices lure us toward the very relationships and decisions that will, in the end, destroy our souls.

I see that social media, success, prominence, illusive material possessions, status–all fo these “Idols” could be this kind of boyfriend–here to entice you today, but gone tomorrow, where you are left to clean up a life with scars, loneliness and rejection or just silence, the  feeling of being invisible.

Social media is the newest version of promising what it cannot deliver. Thousands of friends, but no one who has the time to talk to me personally. Now social media has its place–we can write articles of encouragement to be read by others all over the world. We can connect with old friends and meet like-minded friends on the internet. We can show pictures of our children, birthdays, holidays. There are many amazing revelations through the internet.

But there is a possible down side to this is “just virtual” relationship. I do not deny that social media and the web can fill some very important needs in our lives and can give us information at a moment’s notice. But throughout history, life was never meant to be lived this way. God designed us to live in such a way as to leisurely be able to observe His handiwork, to breathe in creation with all of its color and variation. We were to  to see His beauty in the seasons, a rainbow, to feel the course of nature.

Relationships were to be slowly simmering through seasons of shared time, work, love, seasons and years, with a knowledge that people would be in our lives endlessly through our whole lives without ever moving to another location. The gentle comforting hands of God wiping away our tears; the heart-smile that comes from being mutually understood; joyful celebration of life milestones, as kindred spirits walked through the cost of ideals together–these are the deep fulfillments God intended us to share in real life with present and engaged friends. f

God intended that we have time to sit and ponder mysteries of the universe, to have to work out our thoughts, to have time to work and read and create food and gardens and the works of our hands. He longed for us to seek Him, His presence, His relationship to us as God and savior, to fill in our hearts’ needs–pondering and loving Him through time that is focussed on prayer.

God intended that we have real lovers, loyal, present friends, who would be here for us to celebrate life’s daily moments and the tragedies and momentous occasions.

However, contemporary culture has forgotten these realities.

Perhaps, on the internet, we build up a couple of thousand of friends–that does not mean they know us, our real lives, our silent aches of heart, our loneliness, our dreams, insecurities, needs or doubts, or love us. Often it just means, they, too, are trying to build their list. Our social networking friends cannot bring us a hot, delicious meal or a fall bouquet of blooming flowers when we are sick or depressed or just need to know we are on someone’s mind.

Our social media friends cannot hold our hand or give us a gentle embrace, when we  pray  through a heartbreak or  sit and drink a real cup of tea on the porch as we watch a fall sun melt into the sky, and share secrets. Our social media friends are not here to touch, see, experience, giggle, to validate the memories of real life.

Our children also long for us to see them as the important ones–they long for our words of love and laughter at their jokes and engaging in their hearts and attention. Our children are only with us for a window of time, to receive our attention, loving touch, tasty meals, to celebrate life as we pour into their souls. If we are looking to the internet for our relationships, our children will look for love and attention wherever else they can find it–away from us.

We are their first choice, but they will settle for others if their needs are not met at home with our intentional and present attention.

Suppose, we get lots of comments on our blogs today, or an increasing number of visits. The pressure is on to try to keep that going tomorrow. If we feel good when people respond, must we feel bad about ourselves if they don’t leave a comment? If we are one of the most popular blogs or web sites today, eventually there will be a “cuter girl on the block”, where people will search for something more, something new, leaving us longing for the same affirmation and love we sought in the beginning.

I think that many young women become addicted to social media and neglect their families and children out of a God given desire to be loved, to have friends who care, to feel a sense of importance–to push away the feeling that we are invisible in this world of ours. The desire to be loved and known and validated is God-given. Yet, He intended for us to have real community where we are loved and have a place to fit with family–cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings. For thousands of years, neighbors were to be those who knew you your whole life, who were there for you in the tragedies and celebrations of life. Purpose and meaning came out of relating and giving of ourselves to a community of people called to live, serve and validate the meaning of life together, to preserve righteousness in the presence of our children as a common group of people who loved and served God together.

Now, we live in an isolationist culture where we move from place to place, seldom knowing our neighbors; go to mega-churches where it is possible to be personally, intimately unknown in  our inner-life needs or desires. Often grandparents and siblings have different values, live half-way around the world, or are of no support at all–many who have been separated from us through divorce.

So, we seek to replace that which God intended to be real and present, with something–anything–that can help us to “feel” connected, loved, validated.

So, social media can spend a summer by our side, but might be gone when autumn comes. A fickle boyfriend–here today, gone tomorrow. Just a thought for today.

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Comments

  1. says

    …go to mega-churches where it is possible to be personally, intimately unknown in our inner-life needs or desires…

    Did you mean impossible?

    This post is heart breakingly true – so many lonely people – including me.

    • Erica says

      I was thinking the same thing, then I re-read the sentence and noticed it says “unknown” meaning its possible to be unknown by all of those people. And I agree with you about lonely people. This has been on my mind a lot lately :/

  2. says

    Even at my age I realized I had to cut back the grips of social media. I set about half my Facebook relationships to no longer show in my feed (while not unfriending so I can pop over and say hello if needed) and I am no longer blogging every day.

    Some of this came about after a snarky comment bothered me for a couple of days until I reminded myself this person did not even really know me and was commenting on an illusion they had of who they thought I should be!

  3. dani says

    Number one answer in Europe and America when asked what young people want to do w their lives? …..Be famous.

    Social media is a platform for swollen egos. We are all a bunch of narcicist….raising a generation that is yet more self absorbed than ourselves.

    I blame fb for why people truly dont give a rats butt about anything but themselves….it has somehow changed us from how can i help to how can i promote MYSELF in the best possible light. Satan was cast down for this very reason….whose image are we projecting anyway?

  4. says

    So well written. When my first child was born 5 years ago I felt so isolated. We lived out of town and it was a much bigger city than I was accustomed too. I felt like the internet was my escape. Whether it was blogging,forums,or just browsing. I felt like it was my connection to others. Thank God He opened my eyes to how dangerous that can be. We have made friends over the 6 years of living here and we have found a church home where we can connect with others. We are made for relationships, I don’t know how many times I have read that in your books that I have read. When we don’t have them we do suffer. Thank you for always writing so truthfully,Sally.

  5. rene says

    I just dont see much difference between fb and real life…people are closed and selfish either way…im so sick about the lack of love in our circles im wondering if life is worth living at all….everyday i welcome death because this lonliness is unbearable. Ive tried to reach out…i give up.

    • says

      Rene, I am so sorry you feel this way. Please talk to someone locally, a local pastor, counselor, call this number – 1-800-273-TALK. That is the suicide prevention hotline. I don’t know if you are considering suicide, but it sounds like you could certainly use someone to talk to. The loneliness is unbearable and suffocating, but it doesn’t have to be. If nothing else, email me – admin@luvmycrzylife.com Just please, please don’t go on thinking that life has to be this way. There are people who care, even if you don’t know them right now.

    • Sally says

      Sweet Renee,
      God sees you and He does love you so dearly. It is a battle in this day of isolationism to feel connected. I pray you will find someone near you, or call an old friend or relative and ask them to meet you for coffee. I pray you will find hope and find the help you need. And yes, do contact someone to meet with you. May you know my prayers have been lifted up today.

    • lynne says

      Rene,

      I understand your pain and sadness, and I know how it feels to be so unloved and uncared for. I have been through the same feelings many times. Please listen to this: You are SO precious to your heavenly father, He delights in you, He longs to bless you and He loves you so dearly just as you are. Pour out your pain and sadness to Him, ask Him to fill you up with His love so completely, that you know fullness of joy in His presence. He has done this for me and I know He will do the same for you. I believe and will pray for Him to bring a friend who will be a blessing to you. With so much love and a hug sent across the miles.xx

    • Bridget says

      My heart is sad as i read your post during my coffee and devotion time this morning. I wish I had great words of wisdom to share to encourage you but I realize they are just words and the power of genuine peace, comfort and strength is in scripture. I am praying for you now and drawing near to scripture, seeking wisdom from The Lord. Some of my loneliest seasons were the catalyst that brought total dependence on The Lord and my faith grew in that time that I would not change it. We have been given a mark in history; a part of his great story. Live your story great and believe that “all things work together for good, for those who love Him”. Ephesians 3:16-21. When I began to truly believe what this says- it lit a fire in me that wanted to seek Him and know Him more! It has been anything but dull when we choose to believe what the word says!

  6. says

    There ARE so many hurting and lonely people. This is a beautiful post, Sally. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

    To all of us: In the real world, we don’t realize how much of a light we can be with a simple smile, look in the eyes, heartfelt nod, a touch, a note or a word of encouragement.

    I believe the same is true in the world of social media. There are a lot of people out there looking for some kind of validation and hope to build upon. Never EVER underestimate how much your follow, fav, RT, friend, or blog comment means to a someone reaching out to your for your advice, wisdom or encouragement in the cyber world. It’s not hard to offer this. The same goes for someone who stops by your feed, your page or your post.

    For those who are lonely in the face-to-face world, confirmation in the cyber world might just be what they need to reach out in the f-t-f world; the reverse is also true, as there are many trying to make a start in the cyber world who could use a little bit of real-life encouragement and cyber encouragement. This could make all the difference in every aspect of their life! Don’t underestimate the value of offering a little hope to those you “meet.”

    If any of us is a Him-led Christian, our interactions with others in the real world OR the cyber world of social media should be a real and genuine reflection of Him through our own words, choices, actions and deeds. Be who He has called you to be in all of your ways. Reach out and offer a hand up in all of your worlds.

    Again, thank you for posting this, Sally! We all need to learn to love our neighbors with whom we can share a coffee, and we need to do the same with our “neighbors” even if we can’t have coffee with them!

    Hope

    • says

      True words Sally. Thought-provoking post that everyone needs to be reminded of in this isolationist culture. I oftentimes identify these tendencies in others and fail to recognize where I can reach out and BE that community, that support for one of my fellow sisters.

      Hope, loved your comment. It is amazing what a difference I see in both my online and real-life interactions when I seek to be led by the Holy Spirit and used by Him to touch others.

  7. lynne says

    Hi Sally,

    I agree with your whole post. I was completely addicted to facebook a few years ago. I couldn’t control how much time I wasted on it, and I realised it all boiled down to pure nosiness about what other peoples lives LOOKED like, which in actual fact only half of their lives are displayed, and the perfect half at that. I always came away from the screen feeling insecure that my life didn’t seem so perfect. Well, about 2 years ago, I quit completely and disabled my account. Best thing I EVER did. I sent everyone my email address and asked them to stay in touch that way instead. I dare some of you out there to do the same thing! Go on it’s liberating!

  8. Dayna says

    Good thoughts….Sally, I’d love to hear more ideas as I believe you have lived far from family and friends. We are moving over a thousand miles away from our family as my husband takes a new pastorate. How to raise my children well away from our family and make our time there really count for God’s kingdom?

  9. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I especially appreciated the paragraph that began with “God intended that we have time to sit and ponder mysteries of the universe…” I think we often feel guilty for doing just this, and I do so agree- we need time just to be still and KNOW that He is God! Without it, we will not grow.
    It does seem so sad and so ironic that the more we are “connected” by social media, the less we really are really connected to our families and communities. It’s a rarity now even to have eye contact with a cashier at the grocery stores, much less a heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend. Certainly not what God intended when he created us for relationships with Him and others.
    Thank you again for your thought-provoking words. I think I am going to disable my facebook account this afternoon… and then go drink some lemonade and play with my kids.

  10. Katrina says

    Fanzine, not Eponine….although she was a pretty sad lost soul as well.

    Having gotten that you the way, yes, I’m a bit of a homebody and so social media works very well for me but it cannot take the place of real life friendships and so to pull myself away to cultivate those or even the relationships in my own home often present challenges. Thank you for this reminder, Sally. Your words are often a God given balm to my soul and grace for my perfectionistic tendencies. Thank you!

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