Why I want to quit the Internet (and why I won't)

schoolpic.jpg

I still remember saying goodbye to my friends on the last day of 5th grade. It was 1998 and it was emotional. The way the school zones worked out, I was going to end up attending a different middle school than most of the kids I had spent the last six years growing up with. I had never been the “new kid” before and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be. As my bus slowly rolled out of that elementary school parking lot, so did the tears from my eyes. And as I stared out that foggy, glass window, I wondered if I’d see my best friend or secret crush ever again.

Who knew that only six years later, in 2004... there would be a way that I could. I believe it’s no coincidence that Facebook was created the year before I graduated high school. Instead of tears rolling down my cheeks my senior year, I was jotting down college email addresses so I could add all my friends on this new and upcoming, popular social website! It seemed pretty straight forward - you put up a profile picture, shared photo albums and “wrote on walls” of people you wanted to say hi to. It was brilliant and most importantly, I’d never have to miss a friend again! 

In 2006, I began blogging as a college student just trying to figure out life. I was married only two years later after I just turned 21, and was joyfully naive, but nonetheless excited about offering advice to the rest of the world! I spent a good portion of the early years of marriage writing about faith, music and ministry life together with my wonderful husband. Those were golden and beneficial years. A transformation happened in my writing when I began to get vulnerable about our struggle with infertility, which eventually led to sharing the joy of our pregnancy with our first baby boy and then, by God’s grace, two girls following! It all came naturally as I shared my life, and family, with people across the internet. And I ended up keeping in touch with quite a bit more than just those few friends I was afraid to miss in high school. 

But if I’m honest, It’s 2019 now and after 15 years of being on the Internet, I’m ready to quit. 

853C9166-CDD7-49EA-AAEC-E1C35C7AC66E.JPG

There are many reasons I’ve been struggling with wanting to quit the internet (stirs up comparison and discontentment, too many people to keep up with, never feeling enough, etc.) But, for times sake, I’ll break it down into the BIG 3. 

THREE REASONS I WANT TO QUIT THE INTERNET.

1. My time is limited. 

There is a lot of pressure these days to maintain and grow your social media presence. As someone who does photography as a side gig, I know that I have to keep posting regularly or I lose my place in the “algorithm” and stop showing up in feeds. Which, therefore, hinders my prospect for new clients. But, as motherhood has taken its toll on me (in the best of ways) my time and energy have become limited. I distanced myself from this blog almost two years ago after receiving some not-so-nice comments about a political post I wrote. It wasn’t the mean comments that got to me - it was that I didn’t have the energy to defend my words anymore. This was a problem. If I was going to invest my heart and passion into writing something, I knew I needed to have the follow-through to defend it. Which brings me to my next point — 

2. I’m too passionate. 

I struggle with how to be a good and present mom and also... save the world from going theologically, spiritually and politically down the drain! (I think I’m a little too late on that last one) I have watched from the not-so-comfortable sidelines for over two years, hoping that I would somehow (magically) turn into one of those mom-bloggers who could write about sofas and recipes and call it a day. (Please take no judgment, sofa and recipe-writing mamas! I need you. I read you.)

But that’s just not how I’m wired. And I’ve learned to be okay with it. And more than okay, I’m grateful. Grateful that God would give me this never-ending desire to see Truth win out. And let’s face it, I’m just no good at blogging unless I can blog about the things that give me life and purpose. Some would argue a couch could do that for them. My couch can’t. 

3. The world (and therefore, the internet) is dark and evil.

This is really the one I could sit down on for a few hours/days. The Holy Spirit has been heavy at work within me over these last two “silent” years, as I’ll call them. I have felt so unsettled by the current spiritual climate of our country. My heart, physically, aches. I read things almost on the daily now that cause me to run to Scripture. Not just to have a verse to throw into the fighting ring - but as armor to guard my own heart and mind. It’s scary out there! I have questions about everything. And even my questions have questions. As followers of Christ, we must cling to The Bible as our only true and reliable source - and, sadly, we are in a culture today that is trying to disarm us from our only weapon. 

But as I run to Scripture, I find that this battle has already been predicted. God knew beforehand that these were the times that would exist. And get this... it is NO coincidence that any of us were brought into this world FOR SUCH A TIME. 

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
— Galatians 6:9

This brings me to…

WHY I WON’T QUIT.

If we believe God placed us into this world for this time, and we are called to be bright lights in a dark world (Matthew 5:14). Where else can we shine our lights brightest if not the place that seems the darkest? 

Honestly, I was hoping the internet would die or fade away if I started fading away from it. But that’s just not how it works. In fact, it seems like the more I try to ignore it - the louder it gets. (Try putting your phone down for a day and you will notice EVERYONE else on theirs). None of us are THAT important enough to kill it. The Internet is here to stay.

And one day soon (in fact, in LESS time than the amount of years I’ve been on Facebook!) I’m going to be handing it over to my children. How will I ever let them use a tool that I have never really grasped the purpose of myself? They are looking at our example now and, as with everything, we need to model what that looks like. 

Millennials are the first generation to parent while also using social media.
And we won’t be the last.

I’m afraid that one day we will have a lot of advice to give of “what-not-to-do” and not a lot of WHAT to do. I know that I’m still figuring it out myself.

But I can tell you this - it doesn’t look like endless self-promotion (though, at times, it is necessary). It doesn’t look like mindless scrolling, or ranting, or speaking words that I would never say in a conversation face-to-face. Or finding my value in numbers that go up and down like the waves. 

It does mean connection, speaking life, pointing others to Christ and spurring each other on into likemindedness. Did you know that we are called to think alike, as believers? Being of “one mind” is something Paul wrote about frequently with great urgency and prayer (1 Corinthians 1, Philippians 2). He knew it would be difficult. But I’ve found the best way to unify isn’t to shout from the outskirts, but to stand in the center of something with open arms. 

So even though I’m worn out, tired and ready to give up at times - I keep pressing into this space and using this tool to hopefully, somehow, be a light to the world and encourage other believers to do the same. When the voices of those who speak Truth begin fading from view, confusion takes over. And where there is no vision, the people perish. 

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
— Proverbs 29:18

And to think, I thought the Internet was just a brilliant way for me to never miss a friend again. Only God knew it would be a tool to make sure my friends never missed Him. 

Don't believe everything you read online.

If you've been on the internet this week you may have heard that Chipotle is closing (they're not), Christians hate Starbucks (they don't) and Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton are expecting a baby (the jury is still out on this). 

We live in a media-saturated culture where we glean wisdom from headlines. Except, a truly wise person knows not to believe everything they read online.

The simple believe anything, but the wise give thought to their steps.
— Proverbs 14:15
image source: http://www.psfk.com/2015/10/starbucks-holiday-cups-2015-branding-brand-assets.html

image source: http://www.psfk.com/2015/10/starbucks-holiday-cups-2015-branding-brand-assets.html

I know we all make mistakes and jump the gun on some things before we know all the facts, but this seems to be a common, recurring theme on social media these days. I think part of the reason to blame is that the silent killer built into the DNA of social media is competition

People want to be the first to know things. Instead of waiting for the truth to be revealed - some just start making stuff up. Other people believe it and start spreading the same lies. It's a viscous and never-ending cycle. 

Usually the lies are minor and don't really affect my personal life. But this week, I felt the sting of this attack. It gets personal to me when the subject of the lie relates to my faith. Early Monday I got online and saw several people, mostly non-believers, criticizing and mocking "Christians" for their apparent intolerance of the new "red" Starbucks holiday cups. I looked into it, before becoming defensive. Truly believing that maybe there were some Christians in an uproar over this Starbucks-cup thing. It wouldn't be the first time. There are several reasons Christians have stopped supporting this coffee place (and I gotta say, it's just a coffee place to me, not somewhere I go and expect a Christian worldview to be present). But after I found the source of this allegation, it was so obvious that this was a media-attempt to attack the Christian culture as a whole, based on the remarks of ONE guy with a social media platform. 

This is the world we live in. And really, guys, it's just going to get worse. 

As believers, we need to have wisdom before spreading false truths. We need to do our research and protect the name of not only our brothers and sisters in the faith, but Jesus Christ

The world is truly desperate to prove that Christians are intolerant, hateful bigots. And they wouldn't be wrong. We can be all of those things. They just seem to find the wrong examples. We should be unapologetically intolerant and hateful about the evil in this world. Sex-trafficking. Racism. Murder. Adultery. Jealousy. And ALL sin. We should hate it. 

Why? Because Jesus hated it enough to die for us. And what kind of society, long-term, does a completely tolerant one look like? I imagine a lot like the one we're turning into. 

It was never really about the cup in the first place. It was one guy trying to find a way to make Starbucks celebrate the "true meaning of Christmas" by encouraging everyone to tell the barista their name was "Merry Christmas" so they would have to write it on their "plain red cup." Another gimmick that was probably mostly driven by selfish ambition. Everyone is looking for one these days, it seems. 

So I guess the moral of this post is don't let your faith turn into a gimmick, be wise and please, don't believe everything you read online. 

 

I see the worship of things.

I stumbled across a journal entry I wrote on January 31, 2013... over two years ago. While reading it, the reality struck me that I could have very well written these same words today. So I am. 

 

I look around.

I see the worship of things.

I see the worship of image

Glam, chic, hipster, vintage... the value that is placed on falling into one of those categories. 

The close up shots of boots, leggings, nail polish.

 "Did you know that was a thing?" My sister asked me while painting her toe nails. 

"Nail polish?" I asked. 

"Yes," she said. "It's the rage." 

(There it is... another one of those words that make me cringe. And since when did nail polish become a thing anyway?) 

Since it became something to worship, that's when.

 

I look around.

I see the worship of things.

I see the worship of self.

The approval of others, is that all we seek now?

The likes, the comments, the follows, the retweets, the favorites. 

Is that what we live for?

How sad that we have limited our lives to a click of a button. 

We are friends with a square photograph.

But it's all a game. 

This is not real life.

Those friends are not your friends.

Friends are those standing beside you when your mom has been diagnosed with cancer.

Friends are those holding your newborn baby.

Friends are those bringing you a meal when you're too emotionally exhausted to cook.

Friends hug.

Friends laugh.

Friends hold your hand to pray.

 

I look around.

My heart is disgusted at myself for envying this world and everything in it.

For worshiping things that are ridiculous. 

Like clothes. 

Like people

For believing I need to fit into a category.

For believing that there is something better than just being ordinary

For my Savior was born to the most ordinary of people. 

And he died in the most humiliating way. 

And sometimes I'm humiliated at how I tramp on his holiness. Who cares that I did my bible study while eating my morning breakfast?! If it was really all about Jesus and praying alone in my closet, then why Instagram a picture?

There is so much I probably shouldn't have said here. And there is probably so much more I could say. But this is what goes on in my unedited and unscripted head. 

And this is the song that gives me peace from all the chaos...

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.