Our private lives are becoming more public by our own choice. As I read my friends’ posts on various social network sites I read of their underlying concerns that their security and private images will be made public. As the recent news of indecent photos being hacked and published from the Apple iCloud shows, nobody today can assume their online activity might not be made public at some point. Many are lamenting the ‘victims’ in this story and asking how this happened in the first place?
The problem lies in our own narcissistic view of ourselves. Many do not see it as such but it’s true. Sites such as Facebook (as of this writing) make it possible for individuals to complain about their lives, post racy images, and make fools of themselves all of their own free choice. Smart phones now make it possible for us to bypass such common sense notions as holding on to our thoughts, thinking through them, and choosing to stay quiet instead of taking a picture of ourselves in a bathroom mirror and asking the world if they like us.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Many of these folks vent their anger at their bosses, lament their jobs and coworkers, and then get upset when others punish them for their misgivings. Teenagers by the bunches (and sadly, increasingly large numbers of adults) now post their sexual prowess and/or lies about their partner’s libido and cheating hearts for all to see. Lives are destroyed in a heart beat all by choice. People now argue online and use capital letters to make sure we all know that THEY ARE YELLING.
The problem is too much noise….
There’s so much noise in the online community we have to shout to be heard. We long to be significant. We do these things so that WE matter. We want to know that we are vital. For my generation growing up in the 80’s, we had nothing like social networking to vent our frustration. A song by the rock band RUSH captured the feelings of frustrated youth:
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth
Nothing has changed. The youth of this song is now in their 40’s (some of us nearly 50!) and sadly I see the shouts from many in my own age group longing for the significance and happiness they feel has eluded them for far too long…Others chime in and add to the cacophony of noise by “liking” and agreeing with them. The great French mathematician Blaise Pascal tapped into this emptiness when he wrote:
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
I admit I share things on social networks just like everyone else. I share pictures, quotes, and from time to time my feelings…I’ve been wrong at times and apologized. In large part though I see social networks for what they are, a fun lighthearted place to reconnect with friends from my past and network with my colleagues. I’ve drawn great value from having accounts with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and I’m certain future networks that have yet to be launched. The key is to see them all for what they are, simply a tool to further deeper communication in private. They are a means to an end and not the end in and of themselves. I, too, want my life to count. I want significance as do each of us. In my life, I found that with Jesus Christ and like the Apostle Paul I can say:
…All I want now is Christ. I want to belong to him. In Christ I am right with God, but my being right does not come from following the law. It comes from God through faith. God uses my faith in Christ to make me right with him.
And in the end, I’m still figuring things out as Paul completes his thought here:
…I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his.
In short, don’t put stuff out there that you don’t want the world to see. If you want to share private matters, there’s email. Better yet, CALL someone. Talk to them personally. That is what real relationships are about. My friends are not a number on some social network. They are the blessings of God in my life who are available to me at all times in real life. THAT is my ultimate social network!
Be blessed and live well