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.
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.
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.
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.