The internet. Quite the invention. With it, comes the power of social media — facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, etc.
The summer my husband and I met in China, we had to go our separate ways back to our lives after the mission trip. He was living in the Philippines, while I was living in the States. Yet the separation was not too bad for us because we exchanged emails and Skype names. We knew we would see each other again after a few days. On Skype.
The world has never been as small as it is today. We are now in the age of communication where people and places can be reached by the simple act of clicking a button. I never thought I would keep up or even see again many of my high school and college friends, former students, and former colleagues especially after I left my home country. Nevertheless, facebook has made it sure that I do. So now my morning ritual is not complete without opening my account, checking for notifications, browsing the newsfeed, and updating my status. It has become a habit, almost a need, like eating and drinking.
A couple of days ago, I was online chatting to an old college friend who suddenly announced in my message box that I have a beautiful life. (This, by the way, was expressed in my dialect which could not be accurately translated in English at all times. This instance was an example where there was a lot lost in translation.) My first response was a surprised look on my computer screen staring at the words he sent my way. A few seconds later, I found my fingers back on the keyboard to say thank you. I exclaimed to him, “Praise God for what He has given me!”
While I am truly grateful to the Lord for what He has blessed me with, how far He has brought me from where I was, and sincerely humbled by my friend’s compliment. Still, his declaration left me wondering. What made him say that my life is beautiful? We only exchanged a couple of pleasantries and two or three broken sentences about where we are now and what we are doing. The few minutes we spent on each other were, to me, not enough to assess someone’s life as beautiful. Hence, I could not help but ponder on his statement. It had the undertone of someone exceedingly impressed on the matter he is speaking about.
My index finger kept on clicking links, busy surfing the internet. But my mind was on a different page. Then I stopped on my facebook wall. I saw my pictures with me smiling big, stunning sceneries on my background. I saw my status updates — quotes from books I have read, exciting statements about my day’s activities, and outbursts of love for my husband.
It quickly hit me.
Looking at my wall makes me think I have a beautiful life.
The pictures, the updates, and everything in between portray a nearly perfect one. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Though everything I have posted on my facebook wall is not a lie, but it doesn’t represent the entirety of my existence. It is not the complete picture of my work, my marriage, and my identity. It only shows a fragment of the real me.
Facebook has become a notorious space for us in the online world to display our lives in pictures, videos, and words. We upload and share our best moments on our walls. We get to show a part of our lives that we choose to highlight which is, without question, our finest. But we have to remember, that other people have the same online capacity as we do. They, too, get to choose what they show on their walls. And we can expect that they would only exhibit their prime moments (thus resulting to the image of a beautiful life from the perspective of someone watching at a distance).
At least, in my case, I know I would only post the positive things.
What my facebook friends do not know is that:
I would never write statuses announcing to the world that I just had an argument with my husband. As great as our marriage is (we are very blessed to have each other and love each other very much), it is not without its challenges.
I would never upload a picture of me after I had a major crying session over something I am struggling with or something very upsetting to me. As much as I know that Jesus loves me, I am not without insecurities or low times. Indeed, I am not perfect.
Very few people get to peek into the whole picture of my life, and the facebook world is not included in that. Yes, I do believe that I have a beautiful life not only because of my finest moments but more so because of the scars and the depth of pain I have experienced. No, you will most likely not see these scars plastered on my facebook wall. However, I may honestly write about my pain in light of the Lord’s revelations to encourage others to be firmly grounded in Him.
Facebook is an excellent tool for networking with people we crossed paths with at one point or two. We are able to keep ourselves abreast of our family and friends even though more than half of them live thousands of miles away. But it brought with it the subtle and very risky temptation of examining our lives against others through their profiles. It is easy to get lured into the thought of comparing ourselves with others as we look at their high quality pictures, exotic travels, and picture perfect kids. Without delay, we conclude that their lives are better than ours.
I know I am not immune to this. But let our hearts be reminded of these simple truths,
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
2 Corinthians 10:12
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
The peril of facebook, if we are not careful, is that we start measuring up our lives against what we see on other people’s walls. Many of these walls are peppered with great items except they do not blanket the lives of our friends. If we bite this trap, we will get into this crazy cycle of endless discontentment that will never get satisfied until you let go of it.
Facebook can easily escalate our battle against envy.
So before you click that link to your friend’s profile, be reminded that our security does not lie on the pictures, videos, or even words displayed on our facebook walls. They do not tell everything. You and your friends are worth much more that can be contained in that miniscule space on the internet.
May we never reduce our worth to mere wall posts on a social media platform.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
May 6, 2013
© 2013 Kezia Lewis. All Rights Reserved.