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The Problem With Social Media Is...

I love social media. I love that it can make a massive world feel so small. I love that I can stay connected with people I know and stalk people I don’t know. And I love that it unites our generation like no other.

It’s so simple. We can like, heart, tweet, facetime, facebook, face-anything-except-physical-face, retweet, and comment from anywhere in the world, to anyone in the world, at anytime of the day (unfortunately for some, even at 2am after a big night out). And all at the click of a button. But you know what?

It. Is. Exhausting.

In all the liking, hearting, tweeting and faceing-anything-except-actual-faceing, there’s no human contact. There is no vulnerability required. And there is no comfort given.

After hours on the Internet, we are still locked away in our loneliness.

In a world full of virtual community, we’ve never been so lonely. Everyone is connected, yet everyone is isolated.

Almost everyone I speak to at the moment (like actually speak to) feels alone, and ironically at the most “wonderful time of the year.” Maybe you can relate.  Rather than brushing it off as just a “season” (maybe the most overused word in the Christian language) and hoping it wears off after Christmas, maybe there’s more to it. Here’s what I think:

I think we’re lonely because we’re busy highlighting our brand and hiding our humanity. (click to tweet)

Our brand, you with me? Its our reputation, our status, our PR, our style, who we want people to see us as (it’s like the Amplified Bible up in here, choose your own adventure). Our own social media is a show-reel of our life, but we forget that when we’re looking at everyone else’s show-reel. So what do we do? We keep up appearances, because everyone else is keeping up theirs, like a game of chicken, to see who will break first.

We feel lonely because we refuse to share our reality, convinced that it’s not “show reel” worthy for our social media altar ego.

But, today, I’m calling my own bluff, in hopes other people will call their own. It’s a lie.

This show reel social media is anything but real. (click to tweet)

I don’t want a social media altar ego with thousands of “friends” if it means forfeiting my handful of actual friends. There are people around you that you can tangibly hug, laugh with, encourage and even tweet at (if you so feel the urge).

I lose hours on social media seeking community, but I’m left feeling more lonely, depressed and unfit to be human than if I’d steered clear of it all together. Can you relate? But five minutes with actual humans, my actual friends? I’m on top of the world (“ay, I’m on top of the world..” Am I the only one who has that Imagine Dragons song in my head now? You’re welcome).

I have decided. I want the real thing. And that might mean turning off my wi-fi and using my phone for its intended purpose (how retro of me), calling my friends to let them in on the lonely stuff.

We all go through lonely seasons, things our friends might not understand – the loss of a loved one, being made redundant at work, a messy breakup, difficulty falling pregnant, being bullied at school… The list goes on. But I’ve learned that while loneliness is a feeling, isolation is a choice.

Don’t let your loneliness become isolation; it’s your choice. (click to tweet)

Whatever you are going through today, despite your self-talk and what you see on everyone else’s show-reel, you are not alone. People around you might not understand, but they want to listen. Allow them in. Avoid isolation. At all costs.

So today, get out from behind your phone, and get connected. Actually connected.

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Life Is Short... Drink Red Wine.

jim and i My uncle went to be with Jesus yesterday. Seven months ago he was diagnosed with end stage brain cancer, but now he is partying it up in Heaven, probably in white, but still wearing his sneakers. I imagine him sitting with CS Lewis, the two of them drinking red wine and philosophizing life, politics and Narnia.

These past seven months I have seen him fight.  I have seen him worship. I have seen him speak in tongues when he could no longer speak words (it bypassed his brain, don’t tell me that the Holy Spirit isn’t real). I have seen him gain a sense of humour unlike any he ever had before. I have seen him up-close and personal.

I have seen and I have learned.

Today I want to share with you some things I’ve re-learned in the last 24 hours. Because sometimes it takes a little reality check to remember the important things in life.

1. Make more friends. To my knowledge, no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I had more twitter followers.”

2. Drink red wine (if you are legal, you little rebel). My uncle was the healthiest man I have ever known. His diet was stricter than Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. His one allowance was a glass or two of red wine in the evening. A man after my own heart. When he got sick and moved in with us, this became our tradition. We would sit on the balcony and someone would take the shift, fill up a glass and join him. Some of my best memories of him are with a glass in hand on the balcony. Cheers Uncle Jim.

3. Joy is a choice. Choose it. Happiness is a feeling but joy is a choice. Sometimes we just gotta tell our soul that today, we are choosing joy. It’s amazing how the feeling follows, no matter the circumstance.

4. Prioritise family. It’s a weird moment when you look around and realize that your siblings are your best friends. That your parents are your side kicks in life. I’m lucky to have the best family on the entire planet, and it’s easy to be grateful for them but whatever kind of family you find yourself in, find something to be grateful for. Tell them you love them. They won’t be around forever. Bring out embarrassing photos. Make memories.

5. Offense is a waste of time. Life is too short. Offense only ever kills our joy and poisons our heart. People can be jerks, there is bad in the world, but let’s not get caught up in it. Focus on the good, there’s lots of that too.

6. Love Jesus. I am jealous of my uncle’s relationship with Jesus. Is that allowed? Whatever. I’m not bitter. I’m inspired. He worshipped him at every opportunity. I love that. I want that. I plan to pursue that for the rest of my life.

Life is short, make the most of it. Do something crazy. Go for a midnight swim. Watch the sun rise. Go on a date. Climb a tree. Call in sick and do whatever you feel like. Go all “Yes Man” on your life. Why not?

Live.

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