Monday, December 9, 2013

The Perfect Life, the Cloudy Lens of Social Media

I was talking with my wife this morning about life and marriage and friends and, well random things.  It came up about how life looks through social media.  It occurred to me (with her help and pointing it out) that social media can be the ultimate form of the church mask.  If you are unfamiliar with the church mask, let me explain.  You wake up grumpy, yell at the kids, fight with your spouse and sulk all the way to church.  When you get there, you are all smiles, everything is great, your family is perfect and nothing is wrong.  You smile and laugh all through church, get back in the car and fight all the way home about lunch plans.

Now most of us don't fight in public, we save that for home.  We don't air our dirty laundry for the world to see, but we are also afraid to act human.  We assume that everyone has a perfect life and we are the only ones with problems.  Where do we get this idea?  Use to be church, now it's Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and other social pages.  We put our best foot forward and look like we are perfect, but inside our homes, we are falling apart.  You may be asking "what's wrong with that".  Well, several things.

First, no one really knows us.  No one can hold us accountable, no one sees where we struggle and we are left to struggle alone.  We carry our own burdens, but scripture teaches we are to carry one another's burdens.  We hide our burdens, no one can see them, no one can carry them.  We let our pride and ego stand in the way of transparency and community.  We have stopped being open and real with people, we would much rather maintain our image.

Second, it creates a false sense for others.  It's akin to magazine covers.  Unless you live under a rock, you know the woman who are on magazine covers don't really look like that.  They have been photo shopped and air brushed and retouched.  In the end, we try to live up to an unreal level of expectation, one that cannot be obtained outside of digital artistry.  Gravity happens to us all, but we strive for the unobtainable.  Social media does the same thing, and we often feel isolated with our problems.  The few who post about being depressed or hurt, often they are given more support by those outside the church.  Inside the church, we have the pre-typed answers about trusting Jesus, letting go and letting God.  These things, while they may be true, are not helpful. Notice none of them come from Jesus.  He said come to me, I'll give you rest and, oh by the way, carry one another's burdens.  He said love each other as I have loved you.  It's the idea of community, and we have traded it for the cheap social media imitation.

In the end, we become the most connected group of isolated people ever.  We have constant contact with people, we can chat, text, call, skype, facetime, snapchat, and IM each other all day long, but we end up alone and no one really knows us.  We need to use technology in appropriate ways, not to have superficial relationships, masked lives and broken, lonely hearts.  Let's connect in real and authentic ways and have real relationships.  Carry one another's burdens.


  1. Very good article, Dan. So much truth here. Thanks!

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