Social media is a tool which claims to be a representation of who you are — your likes, dislikes, what you did last week, what you ate this morning, who you went out with last night — but in reality, it displays the person that you want others to think you are. The difference is subtle but important.
These are things you usually don’t see on social media:
- Messy rooms. I’ve posted pictures of projects I’ve worked on within my house before. The pictures look great. Everything is in order, neat, and clean. What you don’t know is that directly behind me there is a living room with toys all over the floor and probably DVDs scattered everywhere — some with teethmarks in them, no doubt. There’s probably half-folded laundry, a countertop full of “I’ll get to those later” dishes, and maybe even some half-eaten pieces of broccoli on the floor (they may or may not be Ben’s, who really knows). Sorry to disappoint, but you’ll never see me post pictures of the dirt on our floors or the rings in our toilets. I like to pretend those things don’t actually exist in my home.
- Messy relationships. I’m not talking about the reality TV kind of messy, where cameras and writers can somehow manage to make drama look appealing and where severe language is conveniently bleeped out. I’m talking about the messiness that resides in every real relationship that has ever existed. Never once have I Tweeted: Just had a really intense argument with my hubz. Planning on being super passive aggressive! #MarriageIsHard. We are usually not interested in being quite that transparent. Real relational messes — the ugly-crying-and-snot-streaming-down-your-face kinds of messes — are not something we seek to advertise.
- Messy hearts. We often see attempts to post pictures or quotes that reflect something deeper. We post pictures of sunsets, storm clouds, leaves, oceans, mountains — all in an attempt to convey some deeper message: “The colors of this sunset are like the colors of my soul, shimmering across the vastness of the ocean just like the vastness of uncharted waters of my heart.” (Read parenthetically: “I don’t know what this means but hopefully it will make me look really deep and hipster.”) Leave it to us humans to try and convey messiness of the heart as something trendy. We’ll “like” or retweet a catchy quote in order to display our feigned humility and selflessness — while at the same time ignoring the person sitting across from us, being short with our children, or tuning out our spouses. I don’t tweet things like: Struggling with pride today. I sure prefer putting myself before others! #SelfishSAHM #InflatedHead. We want to appear transparent to others…but not that transparent.
Is this a rant against social media? Absolutely not. There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media — it’s used for many good things and serves a lot of positive purposes. Are these 3 “messes” I’ve listed generalizations? For sure. Everyone uses these social outlets differently and from different motivations of the heart. And believe me — I’m not saying social media should be used for playing our personal violins in order to elicit sympathy or for airing dirty laundry (figuratively or literally, which would be weird). Please, no.
But hopefully these concepts will challenge us to seek out genuine, transparent, and painfully real relationships with others rather than the oftentimes empty and fleeting connections gained through likes, retweets, and comments.
Hopefully we will spend less time choosing the picture and filter that makes us look best and more time making eye contact with the friend sitting across the table.
Hopefully we will not attempt to filter every negative or troubling detail out of our lives, because chances are there are others with the same struggles who can look at you with a tired smile and say, “me, too.”
We all desire connection, so much so that sometimes we’re willing to try and present ourselves as prettier, neater, and more desirable than we actually are.
The real me is far too often selfish, sloppy, lazy, prideful, broken…messy.
Praise God that I did not have to first clean myself up and filter out the messes before He breathed life into my soul.
Here’s to being real, authentic, and transparent — one messy but beautiful relationship at a time.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”