Lent starts today. Every year I see so many people deciding to fast some sort of social media or all of social media as a way of cleansing and refreshing their lives and relationships. If you talk to any of my close friends you know that I agree with this decision, but that is not exactly what I want to talk about here, nor is Lent.
I’ve been thinking a LOT about social media and how it affects my relationships. It is both a hindrance and a blessing! I know there are people who are against all forms of social media, so let me talk about the great aspects first
If you do not already know this about me, I am a full time photographer and I travel a lot for my job. This would not be possible for me if it wasn’t for Facebook and Instagram and God (of course!). Let’s face it… I am not a very business savvy gal. I am introverted and awkward in person if I don’t know you, but I am able to feel like myself when I write! Some of my best connections have been made over social media and I have met truly amazing people! I’ve been able to make and maintain long distance relationships and feel like I am a part of those lives who are so far away.
A very specific blessing for me has been the power of prayer and camaraderie… a familiar story… a common belief. This past fall I shared about our struggle with infertility. The response from all of you was overwhelming! We can and are enriching each other’s lives when we share our stories openly and encourage each other. I do believe that social media has strengthened the ability to connect in this way.
On the other side, I’ve found what I call my “tangible” relationships becoming shallow. These are relationships in my real life. My here and now. Family and dear friends. The ones I can cry to and rejoice with and be the deepest, rawest form of myself with!
A couple months ago, I had a friend fast FB and IG for 20 days. During this time we had a phone conversation that opened my eyes to just how much social media has been a nuisance when it comes to my actual conversations with people. Because I knew that she had no idea what I had been up to, when she asked me what was going on… I told her. Everything. And it felt. so. good. I sent her pictures of a quilt I was making. I told her about new adventures Dan and I were dreaming up. We just chatted about life… about all the things any friends would chat about, but I had a revelation through that conversation. It felt so right because I knew she had no clue as to what I had been up to!
I feel like we have this weird expectation that if it’s online you should already know… taking the realness out of our relationships.
The fact that so many feel they need to give up social media for Lent shows me that there is a very real problem here. Even those, like myself, who see the good in it, want a break. But what happens when 40 days are over and we are sucked back in?
I don’t ever see myself jumping off the FB or IG train. But I do want to change my mentality around it. Lately I have been purposely avoiding going out of my way to catch up with my “tangibles” via social media. I might see something here and there, but I want to regain realness in those relationships. It is my goal to find a balance between social media and life. It will be trial and error, but I want to share with my friends and family what is going on in my life and I want them to share with me. Relationships need to be nurtured. A friend sent me an unedited picture of her boys playing in the sun in their living room one afternoon. There was no reason for her to send it. She just wanted to share with me a quick snapshot of her life. Another friend sent a postcard with some sweet words. Just because. These things are such small gestures in the big picture, but mean the world!
So it will be a long road of undoing and relearning and refocusing and reconnecting, but I am excited for heartfelt and unedited conversations over tea or a long walk or even a hand written letter for those who are not as close as I would like. Will you join me?