I remember the day I downloaded the Instagram app on my phone and captioned my first picture. I had no idea how the innocent sharing of my life would transform me.
Now, I can’t deny it. I am a different person.
Instagram, social media, my phone, it’s all done a number on me. No matter what some people say, none of it is neutral.
I am catapulted into another reality. I open the door and take the first step, and there is no going back.
In her book Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle cautions us, “Remember the power of your phone. It’s not an accessory. It’s a psychologically potent device that changes not just what you do, but who you are.We are faced with technologies to which we are extremely vulnerable and we don’t always respect that.”
The noise of social media, the news, and endless updates and messages streaming through our screens is deafening if we stop and listen.
All of us chiming in with our unique voices and perspectives. Even those of us who want to offer tranquility and peace wind up only participating in the endless cacophony.
Our phones may only weigh a few ounces, but emotionally they are like lugging a ton of bricks.
One does not even need to spend more than a minute before they are bombarded with burdensome news of someone’s child in the emergency room, a person battling sickness, or a friend of a friend intimately processing their grief aloud.
The opposite end of the spectrum isn’t necessarily helpful either. When I am informed of everyone’s blessings and friendships, their latest vacations, or life-altering revelations, I am excited for them and then immediately left wondering about the lack I see in my own life.
Obviously, none of that is wrong to share, but my heart is so frail.
Over the last few months I’ve had to reckon with the gift, yes I’m calling it a gift, of my tenderness. It’s not going away, no matter how strong and confident I seem to grow. (If anything I think I might be becoming more tender with every year!)
I am a sensitive, vulnerable human being, who will never be prepared to peek into the front doors and souls of so many people in such a short amount of time.
My phone pushes me to capacity too quickly.
Without realizing it we have no emotional energy or genuine compassion left to pour into the precious people within our reach or the quiet neighbors whom we hardly know.
To be fair, it must also be said that these little handheld computers can be used for the good, instilling us with hope and inspiration as we witness the human race supporting each other through various experiences. Be it book launches, business successes, life transitions, or our biggest failures, it is evident we are adopting a new resolve to be in this thing together.
Not to mention how dangerously easy it has become to order diapers, floss, Christmas lights, or birthday presents. Click. Click. Click. And click.
Whatever we seek to give or get through our phones- encouragement, an interesting read, connection, a new client, another reader, or more sales- it faithfully delivers and that is precisely why it’s so darn alluring.
But we are pros at ignoring the steep price.
No one can come out of this online world unscathed. Not. One. Of. Us.
We are affected no matter how intentional we try to be. Our hearts, minds, and souls are engaged no matter how casual we approach social media and the online world.
Even when we are not holding our phones, we are thinking about what we will do when we have a moment with them. What pictures or words will we send into the world the world, who will we text, and what things to we need to look up or buy.
It is up to each of us to decide if this alternate reality, entered through a glowing screen door, is where we want to spend our time and energy and thoughts.
Instantly, we feel the pain of laying low and going silent. The fear and questions set in.
How will I stay in touch with people (granted most of them we don’t know personally)?
Will my business fail, and will I lose my hundreds of connections?
Where and how will I give my voice or offer my creative work?
How will I stay inspired?
How will I find relief or rest from trying situations or seasons without a phone in my hand to take the edge off?
All of these are relevant and significant questions each one of us needs to wrestle with sooner than later. We must admit to the ways we are being transformed by this convenient online world and if it’s a price we are willing to pay.
One convincing article declared, “…to leave social media…is to encounter the harsh reality that we will be un-missed on our absence, un-noticed in our silence, and even un-anticipated upon our return back. To escape social media is to taste the bitter sting of oblivion, a little hint of elderly loneliness…Stop attempting to be seen in social media and you vanish entirely. We dare not stop.”
Could we stop? What would such a life look like, feel like, sound like?
Few of us really know, but many of us are sensing the nudge to enter into our frustrating three-dimensional life with renewed vigor and presence becoming famous with the forest and our friends down the road instead of facebook and our phone.
I’m tired of talking about it and imagining such a life. I’m going to try it for awhile. After all, there’s only one way to find out.