For the last year I helped run the social media accounts for the dessert shop I worked for. And I freaking loved it. Jess gave me a bunch of photography tips he picked up during his hipster photographer phase (thick rimmed glasses, red flannel, black nikon camera, and mason jar used as a water glass). Ah, to be young and hip in the yester-year of 2011. And I got paid to take pictures of delicious cake, espresso, and cookies. Chocolate decadence cake perfectly balanced on my palm at just the right angle so that the sun hit the ganache frosting making it slightly melty which would cue your mouth to start watering. Then I would spend 10-15 minutes agonizing over the perfect caption to encapsulate this masterpiece the bakers and frosters spent hours creating. So yeah, social media can be incredibly fun, rewarding, and connect you to other cakes (I mean…err… people).
Social Media is Just Plain Fun Sometimes
I’ve deleted and re-downloaded the instagram and facebook apps on my phone and ipad so many times you’d think I was in a toxic relationship. My poor devices have whiplash from the deluge of notifications, and then blank nothingness. And if I admit it, I do too. I’ve heard multiple sermons on how our phones, especially the apps, are specifically engineered to be like slot machines — always offering stimuli and pulling us into addiction. Am I an addict?
Proverbs 4:11 NLT I will teach you wisdom’s ways
and lead you in straight paths.
But all I want to know is that I’m not alone. I want the deep soul-refreshing feeling I used to get when I walked out of the crowded, humid room of a sermon session at Winter Camp during college and breathed in the scent of pine trees as my friends walked beside me. And yet, I know this isn’t reality. Camp is camp and everyday life is daily life. And in life you need your friends to organize a meal-train through social media to bring you food when you have a baby. You need social media to find a free queen-sized ikea bed that makes you feel like you are low-key Swedish royalty. To raise awareness of social and political causes you care about. To share your blog-posts or else it’s just a glorified message-in-a-bottle set out into the hyperspace. You need tools to make connections and reach out to other people.
Is it all worth it? Can I just ditch my phone, all of the apps, and Facebook and live in the wilderness?
So What Do We Do Now?
I don’t think its a mistake that a lot of Jesus’ miracles happen in ordinary places. People’s homes. The Side of the road. Usually in the middle of a crowd. I’m struck with the enormity of Jesus being surrounded by so many hurting, imperfect people in terribly ordinary, everyday places. He had the secret to eternal life, he had the bread and water that could feed these people’s souls forever. And what did they want? Relief from temporary pain, like Pastor Van talked about how many were simply seeking out a spectacle. They wanted to know they were not alone, left broken and hungry in this world. Eternal life? Give me something awe-inspiring in the moment instead.
Give me a perfectly edited instagram square of a wedding. After my Mom died I used to scroll through instagram and see other people’s wedding photos and cry. Because it didn’t seem fair that they had perfectly healthy parents at their weddings. That they appeared to “choose” their venue rather than accept their second choice because travelling wasn’t possible. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my wedding and thought it was beautiful. But I had to make Jess go through our wedding album and make a seperate folder for all of the pictures of my Mom. Because you shouldn’t cry with saddness when you look through your wedding photos. Can you be simultaneously grateful and celebratory of your wedding day while greiving the expectations you had to let go? A square can’t handle that complexity.
Social Media is like looking up at pixelated stars. Stars are just pictures of things from the past. They’re pretty and polished and glowing. It’s wonderful to go stargazing for a night. But the sun rises the next morning, and the light comes up. You can’t stare at the past forever. Even a live video tries to mimic being in the moment – we all know we’d rather be there than viewing it from a screen.
18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
They have no idea what they are stumbling over.
So If you read this blog looking for tips and tricks for social media, I’m sorry, I don’t have them. Because social media isn’t the problem — our relationships are. Who do you think God is? Do you think he’s good, or does he seem to dole out more #blessings to other people and not you? Does God care for the oppressed, or does he care about winning arguments? Do you shine brighter until the full light of day, or are you stuck stumbling through an addiction of pixelated perfections?