When I lived in Flagstaff, I was a Facebook junkie. Cringe. I was on multiple times a day, posting whatever and then disappointed when I didn’t get the expected reaction. My sense of self worth became tied to how many Facebook friends I had, how many of them “liked” my post, or commented on pictures.
The underlying issue? I was lonely. Disconnected. And feeling an all-encompassing dissatisfaction with my life. Facebook was an escape. I could feel connected even though it wasn’t real.
It’s ironic how something with the power to bring people together creates additional separation. I don’t think I’m the only one to experience this either. Last week, Yahoo had an article about how to get more “likes” on Instagram. After the Oscars there were articles all over the place about what Ellen taught us: how to get more attention on Facebook/Twitter.
From a business standpoint social media is a helpful tool. Arguably, though, none of it is a real relationship. You don’t sit down for coffee and share intimate details about your life or your business or whatever.
This kind of thing has a lot of soul-mucking power for me, so much so I deleted all social media for a year or more. When I went back to school, one of the requirements was to have a Facebook. Then, I decided to be a writer — forget building a platform without social media. But I remained very disconnected, hardly ever logging on or reading anything. Mostly I just posted. I didn’t want to feel small again.
However, if you’ve tried building a platform, you have to play the game. You have to like stuff and comment on stuff and follow people. So, I played the game, but only a little. Even then, the game is sneaky and mean. You try to minimize your concern over the response garnered by a post, and then BAM. It has the power to bum you out.
Social media seems to have so much muscle… but it’s not anything at all. There’s nothing eternal about it. Because of what I’ve chosen to do professionally, I can’t give in and I can’t shut it out. There has to be a way to engage without coming away being irritated at people for caring more about ice cream than something real. When it’s abused, Facebook is for relationship what copious amounts of ice cream are for the body: not a lot of damn good. Relationships need space and the freedom to challenge self-made confines. Social media is always a one-way conversation. A transaction.
I don’t know how to have it affect me less. The only thing I know involves clinging to the origin of my true worth. Unfortunately, it is easier to get a quick validation fix using some other means, but it doesn’t last. In a society dominated by false, disconnected relationship we constantly try to fill our sense of validation with things that aren’t able to fill anything except time.
Real, authentic human relationship will validate you, and is driven by a force grater than self. False relationship gives momentary buoyancy followed by a steep drop into a very lonely place. And, with certainty, every relationship will fail you at some point, in some way. Our relationship with Christ is the only Relationship with the ability to infallibly sustain feelings of worth, of purpose and create functional, healthy human relationship. Everything else is brief buoyancy and a sudden drop.