In the middle of this Lenten season, I encourage you to carve out some intentional time to reflect on what you are learning through your fast.
If you are giving up some form of technology, you might be wrestling with some of the ideas that author Rebekah Lyons discusses in her book, Freefall to Fly. Reflecting on social media’s affect on her, she writes:
These worlds are fun to create. They allow us to imagine a world that’s a little brighter, fuller, shinier, fancier and more fashionable than the ones we actually live in. The “Rebekah” on my Facebook page or filtered Instagram profile is a moldable piece of clay, and I am the sculptor. I can shape her to be as hip and glamorous as I want her to be, and she doesn’t even have to look, sound, or behave like the real me. These alternative realities fill our waking hours and give the impression that we are contributing to the world when deep down we feel unremarkable.
These technological creations, while interesting for everyone else, have the opposite effect on us. Instead of confirming our worth, they only add to the pressure to perform and strive. Have you made every recipe on your Pinterest board? I haven’t. How many of us have homes that look like the images we pin? Perhaps a few pins are accurate, but over time it becomes too much to keep up with.
So the images created to bring us meaning end up making us feel worse about ourselves. Because we know how unlike our true selves they are. When I create a bliss-filled Pinterest fantasy, for example, it may send me to a dreamy place for a brief moment. But then I’m reminded that my closet – and my décor – is already outdated according to the latest trends. So off I go to spend. To update. To consume. The experience is worsened on those late nights when I need a mental break and find myself watching and observing, wondering if everyone else is living a better story than I am.
Worse still, these fantasy-laden lives isolate us from communities where we are truly known. To be sure, I love knowing what my friends are up to, near and far. Technology helps me feel more connected to them. But unless I reach out and actually talk to them, the closeness is limited to a newsfeed. A faux sense of friendship. I feel connected with them even though we haven’t spoken in months. And when we do speak, I sense a most awful pressure to keep up appearances I’ve worked so hard to construct online.
Gabe [her husband] is a helpful barometer to keep me accountable. He knows when the real Rebekah and the virtual ones grow disconnected. And he raises a red flag when my iPhone gets more attention than he does. It makes him jealous when I act as if I’d rather be somewhere else than beside him. Only those in our midst – our physical lives – can accurately assess when we’re embracing our true selves.
Like Rebekah, perhaps the Lord is revealing something to you about how technology impacts you in order to help you live an authentic life.
All is well,