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

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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. 

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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. 

To the Distracted Mama

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It's crowded out there. And if you're like me, when it's crowded out there - it gets crowded in here too. In my heart, in my mind. I get sucked into the crowd and the busy and the doing and forget what the purpose is. I start functioning and living from a place of performance instead of a place of purpose.

I get distracted.

The truth is, the world doesn't stop moving for us mamas. It doesn't wait until our kids are sleeping through the night, or finally not sick, or potty-trained or not out-of-their-minds (which I've heard actually isn't curable). No, minus a few weeks post-birth when everyone brings you meals and wants to hold your baby (those were the best days of my life), the world expects you to keep operating at it's speed - you know, warp-speed - while still maintaining your role as wife, homemaker and/or working part or full-time. And well I'm sorry, mamas of the social media millennium, when you have communication at your fingertips there is just not a lot of grace for you, even on the friend-level. You must reply to every text, catch up on every Instagram photo, Snapchat video and attend all of your friend's virtual parties on Facebook (because they are making life easier for you by letting you be in your PJ's) while still managing to give your children some sort of a childhood. The kind where they don't end up sitting in front of a screen all day, you know, like you.

 Sigh.

I'm not saying that all distracted moms are sitting on their phones all day. Nah, I know that's not possible with children. But it's still there. And most likely, attached to your hip for any opportune moment to have a second to yourself. To "free your mind." When in actuality, it's really just distracting it more.

I know, because I am so much more guilty than I want to admit.

I don't know why I think that reading one more political post is going to help give me the patience I need, when in the very next moment my child is pouring cereal all over the floor. Or why following that super-model mom rocking her bikini body on Instagram is going to give me motivation, while I stare in the mirror feeling guilty that I skipped out on the gym again that morning. 

And this is just the kind of distracting stuff that happens "behind-the-scenes." There are tons of more opportunities for distraction, you know, when I actually get out of the house. 

I always set out with good intentions, and then end up living and functioning out of performance instead of purpose. Trying to live to "claim a spot" in this rat-race world, instead of resting in the one role that I never have to earn or try to be the best at. The one that Jesus came to die for.

My identity as a child of God. 

I have been redeemed from living a life of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3-4). Worldly accolades mean nothing when compared with the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior (Philippians 3:7-8). I'm reminded that I can plan all I want to, but my ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8) and boasting in anything, apart from Christ, is arrogant and evil (James 4:15-16). 

These are the truths I have to remind myself daily. Before I am a mom, before I am a wife... I am His. And if I miss that, I will naturally keep striving to "perform" in the other two. 

Jesus offered a place for the weary and "burned-out" (burdened) in this world... with Him. 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

As I was tucking my little boy to bed tonight, he asked me (like he does every night) to lay down with him for two minutes. I looked at him and said, "Okay, baby," and then laid down beside him, stroking his soft, fine hair and asked, "You know why I do this, right?" He smiled gently and said, "Yeah... because you reeeally love me." :)

My precious boy knows what Jesus wants us to know... that because I love him so much, he can find rest in my embraceAnd in that moment, with all distractions aside, I knew I was doing something right.

 

Behind a Photo

I post a lot of pictures. Especially of my children. There's no arguing that. Setting my photography business aside, taking photos for me is both a hobby and creative outlet. I love capturing little moments throughout the day - whether at home with my little ones or out and about. These are memories I will cherish forever and I've never regretted taking a single photo. What I do regret sometimes, is sharing them online.

I'm not worried about my children growing up and getting upset that their faces were plastered all over social media. In fact, I think by the time they are old enough to care, social media will be such a natural part of life - used for business, education, etc. - it may be for their benefit to have early records and memories of their childhood documented. Especially in a fond and positive way. I never want to portray them in a negative light or share things that may embarrass them later in life. So of course, most of my photos consist of smiles and laughter and sweetness.

But there is a life going on behind the photos that isn't always as pretty. And sometimes when I only share the sweet moments, people think they know my children, when they really don't. I've had people make comments to me about my children, based on photos, that are completely way off base. And this... this is what concerns me. This is what makes me regret sharing.

I've tried to find the balance between being "real" and also respecting my future "adult children," by not sharing every little blowout (literally and figuratively). Do I let people keep making assumptions? Or do I correct them when they say something completely off base about my child? Should I stop sharing photos altogether? Or do I just suck it up and realize this comes with the territory? These are the questions that I mull over daily. And I've been getting into mama-bear mode frequently, where I just want to protect every piece of who they are.

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Micah is witty, creative, adventurous, but cautious at the same time. He talks in sentences, most of which is astonishingly understandable. He loves sports - any sport - and never wants to miss out on a party. A lot of times, he brings the party with him.

Hannah is sweet, strong and fiercely independent. She can be as quiet as a mouse and in two seconds pierce your eardrums with the loudest shrill. She loves attention, but is particular about who gives it to her. Feed her, and you have her heart.

These are who my children are today. They are always changing and growing. I have no desire to box them in or create their identities for them. I want them to be who God created them to be.

I love that we have the internet to share photos and document stories and feel connected. I love that long-distance family and friends can feel a part of a happy moment in our lives just by sharing a picture.

And I really don't mean to be rude or pompous or arrogant with this concerned-mama-bear post, but if I could make one request and plea to you it would be this - when you meet my child for the first time, don't assume that you already know them because you've seen their picture online. Take the time and really get to know who they are. When you do that, you will see that there is a lot more to the story behind a photo. And I can guarantee you that 100% of the time, you will prefer the original.