I’m not sure when it happened, but I finally put an end to what slowly became a bad habit. I’ve never fully embraced the whole idea of Facebook and other types of social media the way most of my friends have, so maybe that’s why it was pretty easy to stop checking it regularly and eventually just delete the app from my phone altogether. I still think it’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends, but I don’t think it offers a way to truly connect with other people. Add to that my tendency to compare my life to other people’s lives based on their posts, and you basically have something that is always keeping me distracted and questioning my own quality of life.
I wrestled with all of these feelings and questions for a long time before I completely quit Facebook. I thought about what I might miss and why it would even matter. I thought about all the people back home that probably wanted to see pictures of my kids because let’s face it, they really don’t see them very often. I thought about how people always seemed to be out doing something while I just sat at home relaxing. Was I letting life pass me by? Had I become a shut in with no friends? Why was I suddenly more concerned with praying for someone I hadn’t talk to or seen in years than I was about my own family? The answer was very simple: the enemy was using this to create a distraction. Facebook had suddenly become that flashy billboard sign I direct my attention towards when I should be looking at the road in front of me. I realized that if I didn’t stop giving it my attention that I would soon lose sight of my true purpose: paying attention to what is right in front of me.
A few weeks ago, I finally decided to let Facebook fade away into the background of my life. It wasn’t the political posts or the perfect-looking family pictures that someone posted on their wall that made me finally say goodbye either. It was actually a post from an acquaintance of mine. She shared that she had been dealing with depression for several years and that things were finally getting better. At first, I rejoiced with her at how she was finally breaking free of her depression. I had struggled so many times with it myself and I knew instantly the pain she was dealing with. Then I wondered why I never knew. I would have shared my story with her in the hopes of encouraging her. Maybe we could have gone from being just mere acquaintances to real friends if we had that opportunity to share our struggles. I thought about all of the times I had the opportunity to talk to her. I had visited her home several times, our kids went to the same school. I saw her almost daily for an entire school year and I still had no clue she was struggling. Why? Perhaps it was because the life she shared on Facebook wasn’t a complete picture of who she really is. Let’s face it, we all share what we want and many times we leave out the not so pleasant stuff. We fail to be transparent because we look around and think that our lives won’t measure up. The truth is that we never will- not if we choose to make assumptions about others based on Facebook posts and tweets.
God reminds us of this in 1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
God looks at the heart because it is a better way to know who someone truly is. A better indicator of what’s going on inside of each person, so that He can truly reach out to us.
I was wrong to put this lady and her seemingly perfect life in a box and assume that she didn’t have any problems because she never talked about them openly. And my opinions about others have to be formed by more than just assumptions. It is foolish to trust the ‘outward appearance’ and that’s where I seemed to be stuck at.
True connections are formed in the real world, a real world where everyone experiences bad days, struggles and failures. We can’t crop out the junk and we certainly can’t choose what we want to share with others when there is a chance at true connection. Sadly, in this situation I had missed my chance at true connection. And I wonder how many times I had missed my chance to see into someone’s heart.
Maybe I will figure out how to use social media without falling into this sneaky trap, but for now I’m choosing to venture out into the real world for true connection.