Writing about the loneliness of social media was an eye-opening experience for me. It was more transparent than I am accustomed to being and, I think maybe, a little uncomfy for you, my friend.
Yet, in spite of or maybe because it is awkward for us to examine closely, I believe it remains an important conversation to engage.
My children think I live a pseudo-life through the computer and frequently inform me I should “get out more”. Of course, as brilliant and on-fire extroverted teens, they not only hold the market on all wisdom and insight (just ask them, they’ll tell you) they are absolutely dumbfounded by my happily introverted reluctance to fill my world with as many faces as possible.
I can easily forget the world around me while enjoying a safe, busy, consuming, and completely imaginary life.
It wasn’t until I became conscious of this little truism, how “I have never been aware of loneliness as I have since the Internet revealed how I should live…” that I was able to see how I had made a critical, blue-screen-of-death quality error.
Comparing the brilliant, Photoshopped, perfectly posed imagery to where I was living, I began to despise all those things I called my own.
Ultimately, instead of continuing to feed the soul-sucking abyss of self-pity, I determined to DO something it. Uncomfortable feelings can be a great impetus, don’t you agree?
I Engaged In Conversation
There are plenty of things to talk about on Social Media. Many of them inane and pointless for those of us who are naturally repulsed by the seemingly empty daily menu, litany of errands, small triumphs that comprise much of the scrolling posts on FB’s home page. But, instead of rolling my eyes and disregarding, I began to see an opportunity to reach back into the lives of those around me. Sometimes a simple “praying” post or ~insert appropriate emoticon here~ could open a door for further conversation. Joining a chorus of voices to “like” an event or accomplishment in another person’s life even seemed a smidge kinder than just scrolling through like some sort of voyeur.
I Rejoiced With Those Who Rejoiced & Sometimes We Cried Too
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
I took an Empathy quiz once, on the interwebs. I was wondering about an obvious lack of the aforementioned character trait. After answering the three page test as kindly as I was able and even sneakily choosing what I believed were more empathetic answers than the ones I was initially wanting to pick to skew the test in my favor?
I rated less on the empathy scale than someone diagnosed with high-functioning Aspergers. Seriously, out of 50 possible points? I got 7.
The sheer power of God in my life is a testament to any kindness or intentional compassion I share with the people around me. It is obvious that my sisters got all the empathy.
Disciplining myself to recognize and adopt an attitude of rejoicing with the triumphs and joining in the sadness of loss or disappointment, I began to find it easier to see not just words on a page but the hearts and minds behind the profile pictures
I Became the Initiator.
I determined to quit reading about the full calendars of everyone else while believing ‘no-one really wants to see me”, and I began to create opportunities to connect. Whether through Real Life interacting, comment conversations, or even private messages, I reached out or responded to the people I felt most drawn to in the weird spheres of digital interaction. While I knew the sheer force of will it can take for me to remove my largesse from the lounger, I was obviously longing for something more than what I was experiencing there.
I can’t change the world. I can change only me.
So, one coffee at a time, either with fellow blogging ladies who make me laugh and think deeply, meeting someone new and beautiful while sitting at a tiny table in the next town over, establishing a local homeschool support group, or just engaging in a conversation at the grocery store instead of ducking behind the pepperoni display and praying they didn’t see me, I have transformed, for me, a weapon that seemed to exist merely to tempt me to feel isolated in my weaknesses into a tool for finding beautifully like-minded people.
My world filled up. My heart over-flowed. I quit comparing myself to others.
The terrible grip of loneliness that Social Media once inspired has faded. It only shows up when I start comparing and weighing words on a screen to the ugliness of my own insecurity and self-doubt.
But that’s not really Social Media’s fault, is it?