Stop using Facebook as a Narcissus pool, you will fall in and die.
Now, this isn’t just about one social media service or one technology, it’s about all of them, but Facebook has become the lair of the green eyed daemon and we’re going to try to slay it like Samwise did to Shelob. Yup, another nerd reference. Deal with it.
We all know this is true. We all know the feelings that rear their ugly heads: The completely reasonable posts that make us roll our eyes. The people we unfollow because they got a job, are in a relationship/engaged/married, or had a baby — they’re just too happy. The posts we choose not to like because we don’t have that life goal and clicking the thumbs up button without another glass of wine is too much to bear #lifesucks
But wait, you say, I’ve done all those things! I’ve had those feelings. Me too. And that’s okay. They’re natural feelings. But nature also has the corpse flower and mosquitoes so let’s not use that as a justification for rationalizing gross things, mmkay?
You know when you’re posting that photo because it makes your life look better than it really is to people you’ve never even met. You know the times you’ve humblebragged, flirted, flaunted, and vaguebooked for attention. (We actually had to make up words to describe our ridiculous behaviours.) I mean, I’m sure there are classic paintings hanging in the world’s greatest museums that are basically the same thing, but that just goes to prove we’re in need of a Saviour, not that our actions are reasonable.
So is all social media evil? Should we burn our laptops? Is the only cure to become Amish? “But I don’t know how to churn butter!” you’re screaming. Of course not, calm down.
Like all good technology, it’s a tool. And as a former mechanic I can tell you — tools should be used wisely. If you want to unfollow people because what they post makes you sad, do it. If you want to unfriend, do it. I’m a big proponent of cleaning up your feed. Bob Ross that sucker. Let’s have a happy little feed. You shouldn’t feel depressed, angry, tired, abused, neglected, bitter. Your feed should be inspiring, encouraging, whimsical, wise, generous — basically all the things your mother told you to look for in a spouse.
But if you sense yourself pouring over how much attention someone else got on their post, judging others, judging yourself, smacking on the lingering taste of bitterness, it’s time to walk away. Not forever, for a bit. Use the time for something that gives to you. Work out, bake, dance around in your pajamas, hug someone.
There have been a lot of articles on this subject but I was really met by one the other day about how we are addictively filling our time with screens as a replacement for in-person relationships and stillness. I could not agree more.
I’m old enough to remember black and white TV and rotary phones and a time before YouTube. My first phone was a Nokia and you paid per word to text. Don’t cry for me, I’m pretty sure this was to my advantage. I’m young enough to enjoy what we have now and still remember that the effort we had to expend allowed us to take greater ownership of our lives. If you wanted to see a movie you had to (gasp!) leave the house and that meant going out into public and dealing with the plethora of things you couldn’t control*. But you did it and so did your friends and you weren’t talking about things that happened but things that were happening.
There was also so much more silence. And, granted, much more boredom. But now there’s such a short time between waking up and facing a screen. Screen time and going to bed. I guess what I’m saying is — we need to be careful what we’re in relationship with. Are you talking to God as much as you and your BFF are sniggering about how ugly those bridesmaids’ dresses are? Are you encouraging others or building a moat so you can hoard all your bad feelings? Are you using social media or is it using you?
Because I know one thing here, comparison is the thief of joy.
We need to allow ourselves a break. Or even, a breakup. Delete that app. If it’s safe, leave your phone at home some time. Turn off that TV show. Fill your screen time with something tangible and real. Pick up a book. Cut some flowers. Give your little brother a wedgie. Go be somewhere silent. Don’t be afraid of not documenting the moment. Just experience it. Swim around in it until your fingers get all pruney. Rejoice that you have this time to yourself. Silence is not a punishment. I promise.
So I’ve listed some things you shouldn’t do. Equally, there are things you should be doing on social media.
Once you’ve got a healthier relationship with screens and social media — you should include posts and photos of your single life. Good bad and ugly. I mean, obviously guard your settings, but you should post the things of your life. Singles should be represented. Facebook is not just a Stepford paradise. It’s a place where anyone can own and enjoy who they are and what they like in this world.
You have a big life. Concerts, road trips, coffee with friends, quotes, music, verses, likes, hobbies, puppies, kittens — show the world how good God is even when our circumstances aren’t what we’d chose for ourselves. It’s also wonderful for you and others see what God does in a year. Track those significant moments. Be thankful.
Stake a claim that your life, regardless of relationship status, is the one God has for you. Abundance doesn’t just look like getting what you want; it’s also about being happy with what you have. Cool? Okay.
Go do you.
(*For more on this, please do yourself a favour and read Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt The Door by Lynne Truss)