C’mon, admit it, sometimes you feel this way. A little bit?
I can remember the day my husband told me about Facebook. He was still in school, working toward his undergraduate degree. One day I see him sitting at the computer and I ask him what he’s doing. He explains, and afterward I can’t help feeling like the concept is sort of a knock-off of MySpace. It’s different, he demurs — for one, you need a valid college e-mail address. There I perform a low bow. Ho-ho, excuuuuse me, I’ll just go plop myself in front of the TV and see what Dr. Oz is up to; he doesn’t mind if there’s Pringle crumbs in my bra and that I use toilet paper to blow my nose.
Kidding aside, I love to learn, but as one not suited for the collegiate experience, I decide I am not fancy enough for Facebook and that’s the end of it. Besides, exclusivity is not really my thang. Some time passes, a year, maybe two, and Facebook branches out, invites the public to participate. I’m not really interested, mostly because I stink at technology and new things are scary for me. Plus, just last week I figured out how to make a song play when people visit my MySpace page. (Ashley Simpson’s “L.O.V.E.” Now, that was a jam!) Anyway, with some coaxing from my husband and a mild curiosity, I allege to create an account and assign myself the position of observer.
At first I don’t understand what all the hoopla’s about.
“Let me see if I get this . . . that thing at the top is my status? I tell it what I’m doing and then my ‘friends’ will approve by clicking on that thumb’s up and leave a comment in the box?”
There’s more, my husband explains, but I am distracted by the weight of my cynical eyebrows, the sound of my critical and judgy thoughts. Hm . . . sounds a little silly if you ask me. Absurd, really. I mean, who is going to stop what they’re doing to make an announcement about having chicken-cacciatore for dinner?
Apparently a lot of people. Millions. Over a billion, actually. It’s estimated Facebook nurtures roughly 1.11 billion users.
Poof! *mind blown*
A fact about me is that I don’t do things halfway. Either I am in — one fazillion percent — or I am out. With Facebook, I was in. No longer did I feel letting people in on my deepest thoughts or trifling activities was absurd. Brilliant, more like it! We’re connecting! We’re developing relationships we might never of had, fostering friendships that might have been put to the wayside, communicating on a whole new level of interaction. If I am upset about something I can tell Facebook, within seconds reaching 300 people instead of 1 had I picked up the phone and called someone.
– Happy, irritated, disappointed, outraged, bored, excited, exhausted, hungry — tell Facebook.
– Something clever or profound to share — post it to Facebook.
– A picture of myself looking STUNN-ING — upload that lil baby to Facebook.
Because I have a stage. People are watching, listening. There is a spotlight and it’s always focused on me. The notification bell — like music to my ears. And boy does it feel ever so good to see those numbers rise. So fun to step away for a while and then come back to find likes waiting. My status is a Christmas tree and your likes are bright little ornaments making me shine.
5, 10, 15, 20, 30 likes!!! I am validated. Whatever I said, did, or thought, you thought it important enough to press down on your phone or keyboard. I am flying high. I’m beautiful, intelligent, witty, important . . . until I’m not. Until one day no one notices. And then comes the crushing blow of rejection. Insecure thoughts like poisonous darts prick my sensitive heart. Where is everyone? I wonder. I’ve shouted, yet all I hear is the echo of my own voice.
Somewhere along the way something terrible happened.
I came to seek value.
I came to feel loved.
I came to present a false representation of me as a whole.
Facebook doesn’t work. Not for me. What I’ve done is try to create real community, communication, and relationship using something artificial. In doing so I’ve cared too much for what other people think of me and not nearly enough about what God thinks of me. The sad part is I caught on to what I was doing a long time ago, but made no move to put an end to it. Even though my attempts to fill a God-shaped void with mortal validation only left me anxious, sad, and unsatisfied, still I stayed. Why? Why would I continue to be a part of something stirring such disquiet and discouragement in my soul? Because I’m human. Because I want to be loved. Because in my desperation to feel loved I’ll do nearly anything to get it, even if it’s fleeting and superficial, or means I might be turned away.
God has so much more for me than this. Abundant love. Grace at every corner. Infinite time. Willingness to listen and the ability to heal. My friends are wonderful and great, but they can’t give what they don’t have to offer. My heart is a simple creature; it wants only one thing. But it’s tricky, because many places advertise its availability, but there is only One authentic merchant. Sure, you can walk down nearly any alley in New York City and buy yourself a Gucci purse for $20, but don’t be surprised when the thing falls apart after six months. You can have fake boobs, fake granite, a vase full of fake flowers and be perfectly satisfied, but there are a few precious things in this world that cannot ever be faked. For example, the taste of real ranch dressing. Restaurants, you’re not fooling me with that Hidden Valley yuck-poo. You want my business, well then you’d better serve the real stuff. Can I get an Amen?
When it comes to love, I want the real stuff. I want Jesus. I want him and I need him every minute of every day. And I need to stop looking for him in places he isn’t at.
So it’s time to say goodbye to Facebook.
This is hard for me. I am an extrovert, intensely relational, and one who likes to involve people in my life and be involved in theirs. Facebook made this easy in some regards, if not very complicated in others. In order to remain present, I am going to have to put in more time and effort: make more phone-calls; schedule more coffee dates; write more letters. It will be difficult, but I know it will be worth it. Also, because of my career, to offer myself every chance of being found and discovered, I have to remain both available and tangible to the public. I can’t simply delete or inactivate my account, because it’s the umbilical cord connected to my readership. So . . . this is one of those “halfway in” sort of deals. Ick. It is different, though, because it’s the author Cara Rosalie Olsen verses the person, me, Cara.
Me, Cara, we’re going to spend less time focused on ourselves. 🙂
Happy Friday, friends!