Today let’s just pretend that you and I are chatting over coffee.
We snagged the best seats in the coffee shop and the barista just brought us awesome lattes in some of those fun hipster coffee shop mugs.
We’ve already caught up on various topics and now we are deep in conversation about the social media dilemma that I’m having (I’m a verbal processor and you’re a really great friend, so you’re doing a lot of head nodding and being super patient with me as I mull over things out loud).
The decision to engage in social media or not is so incredibly complicated. I thought it was black and white, but it’s totally not. I wish I could live out on the fringe like Jason Lanier and just choose to walk away from everything forever (also, I secretly wish I had awesome dreadlocks like him too), but sometimes I don’t want to live out on the fringe. It’s lonely out there. I can make my own rules all I want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the majority of the world still plays by the same set of rules.
Do I regret deactivating all my social media accounts nearly a year ago? Not at all. Initially, it felt like taking a long and invigorating walk in the woods after being cooped up in an office for days. It was the natural next step in the several year journey that I had taken to simplify my life and live with intention. It was restorative and eye-opening and it changed the trajectory of my life for the better.
But as time has gone on, those same woods that initially felt so refreshing have become a little lonely.
Maybe I don’t want to stay away forever? Maybe what I really needed was a good, long break to gain even more clarity? After all, even Thoreau only stayed at Walden Pond for two years… and during that time he often visited his family that lived less than two miles away.
Living life off the social grid has become… stifling. It’s no longer a novelty to live under a rock. It’s like living with my hands tied. Okay… I know I’m starting to sound a little dramatic (this is the part when we each order another latte because we know we aren’t going home any time soon). Drama aside, I just struggle to understand how to connect with a 21st century world while insisting on playing by 20th century rules. Should more people be intentional about what or how much social media and digital tools they allow into their lives? A thousand times YES. Can you effectively build relationships with people and live conveniently in general society while living under a digital rock? I’m not so sure.
Just to be clear, as I toy with the idea of returning to social media, I’m not at all thinking that I want to just re-activate my accounts and see where it takes me. Social Media, while it is a great tool, is also incredibly pervasive and addictive. I don’t think that any of us should engage with it without first establishing boundaries for ourselves (such as, only accessing it for a set amount of time from your laptop and not installing the app on your phone), but that’s a different conversation for a coffee date on another day..
This leads me to the next piece of this puzzle that I’ve been chewing on-–How can I share words with people when I limit the tools I have to share those words??
(Thank God those second lattes just arrived, because I’m not conveying this thought very well at all… let’s go back a few steps and try this again).
I would never want to imply that I think I have some magical gift that the world would be lost without… However, I know with every fiber of my being that God blessed me with the gift of words–specifically written words. I use these words to share stories, to convey feelings, to encourage and to also challenge others at times. Not everyone always likes the words I have to share. And that’s okay, because the words I have aren’t meant for everyone…. But, I think they are meant for someone. And that someone might not be one of the people that I get to do life with on a daily basis. And they also might not be one of the 7 people that read this blog.
While I’m going on and on about words, it reminds me that I also want to talk about The Word. THAT Word IS for everyone. All the people. All over the place. In every culture. In all the languages. In every circle. So while I don’t think that our Creator could ever be limited by one individual’s decision to have an Instagram account or not, I do think that He can and does use everything. In Him, nothing is wasted. Nothing is too small or too random to be a tool in His redemptive story. So, who am I to say that the Lord of All Creation doesn’t use words shared on social media just like He uses words shared on coffee dates?
Going back to the question I was desperately trying to formulate earlier: How can I share words with people when I limit the tools I have to share those words? I feel like this might still be a can of worms I’m playing with here, but I also think the answer is also pretty simple.
If I’ve got a story to tell (particularly if that story is part of The Story), then I should go wherever the people are who need to hear it and share it. The point isn’t really how I share it (social media, book, blog, over coffee, etc), but that it is shared somehow.
The only stories that God can’t use to change others are the ones that aren’t told, right?
No one would have ever been inspired by Walden if Thoreau didn’t enter back into society to write about it.
Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream wouldn’t have ruffled too many feathers if he had kept it to himself, but it also wouldn’t have changed the world for the better either.
Elisabeth Elliot probably didn’t want her loss and heartbreak to be on display, but that same heartbreaking story put God’s hope and glory on display.
The Word holds the same hope and power, whether it’s shared from a pulpit, written online or whispered behind enemy lines. The point is that it’s shared.
I’m not entirely sure how we went from talking about social media to talking about the power of our stories and The Word, but here we are.
At the end of the day, I know that all I have is His. My mind. My time. My energy. My resources. My family. My talents. The past 2 years have been a constant surrendering all these things to Him and trusting Him with whatever comes next.
I’ve been out in the woods (metaphorically speaking) for a while. And it’s been great. But maybe, just maybe, He’s calling me back to the noise for a season and for a purpose. I’ll have to pray and see.
Thanks for listening, friend. Let’s do this again soon. Next time, it’s your turn to do the talking and I’m doing the listening.