precious moments.

Ten years ago, when I had just graduated high school and moved into my dorm at Florida State, there was a new social networking site that had been created specifically for college students called “The Facebook.” I vividly remember a group of my fellow FSU freshmen and I rallying together to get “The Facebook” to add fsu.edu email addresses to its approved network of students.

Once we finally got on “The Facebook” (feels so weird calling it by its first name) life was never the same. All of a sudden, we could now live out all of our college experience not just in real time, but also on the internet for everyone else to see/comment on/like/validate.

That’s right — validate.

If your roommate told you she’s started dating someone, you would ask, “Well, is it Facebook official yet?” implying that her relationship wasn’t “real” until it was made public on Facebook. Similarly, if you got a new job, you would count down the minutes till you could get on your profile and update it to inform your friends of your latest career endeavor.

It’s as if those of us who have been conditioned to do life with things like Facebook and Instagram have replaced the old adage, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?” with a new one:

“If it isn’t on social media, did it really happen?”

(I am just realizing that I’ve written this before. But whatever.)

I guess it goes without saying that this way of life — blurring the lines between the internet and real life to a confusing degree — can cause some serious issues. For me, those issues have manifested themselves in a few ways: becoming envious of the lives of my friends appear to have based on their posts, getting offended and upset at things people post on Facebook to the point of ruining my in-real-life days, offending/upsetting others with my own posts, and (most notably for this post) struggling with what to post and what to keep private.

There are certain things I experience that are so special to me that I have to fight the urge to post them. One example I can think of right off the top of my head is those moments in the morning when Dan and I are awake, laying in bed, before Dax wakes up. Another example is all the sweet moments I have when nursing Dax — private for obvious reasons. And just this morning — the inspiration for this post — Dax ran up to a sleeping (and, therefore inappropriately dressed) Dan, poked him and said, “Dada, waffles, please.”

Because those moments are so precious to me, I want them to be “real”, and because I am part of the Facebook generation I have to remind myself that, even if they never see the light of social media, they are no less real than the pregnancy announcements and relationship statuses that are currently populating my newsfeed.

In recent months, the idea of removing myself from Facebook has been extremely appealing if, for no other reason, it allows me to get a handle again on the preciousness of all moments of my life, regardless of their publicity. (Though if I did ditch Facebook, I would have to find a viable alternative place to post pictures of my son lest the rest of my family have my head.)

Does anyone else have this struggle?

real talk about social media envy.

This is filed under “ones that are hard to write”. 

There are so many sad/bad/frustrating things about being several thousand miles away from all my closest friends:

1. Despite being outgoing and outwardly confident all of the time, deep inside I’m unreasonably insecure, so I believe that I’m “out of sight, out of mind.”

2. Like it or not, relationships change when people move away. When you’re not with someone, it’s hard to really engage with them. Even though…

3. Social media makes it a little bit better/mostly worse.

You may recall I underwent a social media fast earlier this year. I wrote about how it was great for my soul and how everyone who’s on social media should do it every now and again and blah blah blah.

But since moving to Naples, I’ve attached myself to social media out of fear of numbers 1 and 2 on that list. By trying to be fully engulfed in Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I’ve tried so hard to fool myself into thinking that I’m not out of sight or mind and that my relationships aren’t different.

But the bitter pill I’ve had to swallow lately is that I am and they are

And so social media has — yet again — done little to help me but, instead, all it can to harm me. On Facebook I’m invited to events that I can’t go to and my newsfeed is flooded with pictures of those events that are somehow still happening in my absence. On Instagram I’m seeing photo after photo after photo of people I love doing things with other people I love where I might be if I was still home.

And the green-eyed envy monster wins another one.

It is absolutely crucial to my job to be active on social media so a fast is out of the question. But I will say this — my heart isn’t in a good place right now and maybe if I’m open about it, that’ll allow for space for us to talk about the reality that is social media induced envy.

TELL ME, READERS: 

Have you ever seen a picture on Instagram and thought, “Ugh, that person must have the perfect life.”?

Have you ever seen a status update that made you throw up in your mouth a little bit because it was so…just…perfect?

Please tell me I’m not the only one. Let’s be real, here. What do you do to combat these feelings?

what i learned from a social media fast.

It’s as if I’m waking up from a long nap. I’m rubbing my eyes and stretching and grunting, recoiling from the blinding sunlight that’s screaming through my window.

But that’s not what I’m doing at all. I’ve been awake this whole time. The sun has risen. It has set. Numerous times, in fact. But I just haven’t tweeted about it.

My social media fast is officially over. 

As I’m slowly starting to ease back in to the world of status updates, tweets, and likes, I am also carefully redefining what it means for me to live in an over-connected yet under-personal world.  And, like any good blogger, I’d like to thrust upon you my new-found knowledge.

Free of charge, of course.

four things i learned from my social media fast:

1. posting on the internet is like getting a virtual tattoo.

I know you can technically “delete” posts and photos and tweets and whatnot, but honestly, nothing is ever really gone once it’s on the internet. It’s as forever as a butterfly tramp stamp, so it’s important to be really intentional and (gasp) think before you post/tweet/Instagram. (This was really convicting for me to learn, actually. I still haven’t re-downloaded the Twitter app for this reason. I’m pretty sure that 90% of my tweets were like bad tattoos I can’t get removed. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to go under that needle again just yet.)

2. boundaries are important.

Social media is built on relationships. In IRL relationships (oh yeah, busting out the internet lingo) it’s important to have boundaries, so why would social media be any different? Before, I had absolutely zero boundaries regarding social media. People I hadn’t talked to in ages could post something that would ruin my entire day. That’s not fair to the people with whom I actually do maintain real relationships. Coming back into the world of social media I’ve set my own personal boundaries to make sure I’m in control of the consumption and not the other way around. (For example, I have disabled push notifications on my iPhone. I found that if my phone told me I had notifications on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I would put everything on hold until I checked and cleared them. With push notifications off, I can check my social media at designated times during the day, when I’m not doing anything else that is more important, to make sure I’m intentional, timely, and still engaged with what’s going on around me. This also discourages mindless scrolling through updates, which is important because…)

3. i don’t really care.

Yep. I don’t. This is probably the most valuable lesson I learned on my fast. The truth, no matter how harsh it may sound, is that I really don’t care if one of my 900-some Facebook friends posts a status about doing laundry or making dinner. I just don’t care. I have better things to do with my time than scroll through countless empty updates of the mundane. The people with whom I have real relationships? I know what’s going on in their lives because we intentionally seek each other out through phone calls, texts, and (wait for it) coffee dates and lunches.

4. real life is so much better.

It seems like this should go without saying, but life is so much more fun to live when you don’t have to worry about whether or not you need to post about it. A few weeks ago, my phone fell behind the couch a few minutes before I was to leave for bible study. I almost left it there because I really felt like I didn’t need it. But I did retrieve it in the event that I were to get in a horribly debilitating car accident on the way across town. I also intentionally left my phone at home last night when Dan, Dax, and I went out to dinner. It was so liberating to know I really, truly, didn’t need it because the only people with whom I needed and wanted to engage were right there with me.

I feel really good now. Really good. I feel refreshed, renewed, and like I have a handle on this again.

Have you ever done a social media fast? Are you considering it? Why or why not?

if a tree falls in the woods and you don’t tweet about it…

I know. I need to blog. But what’s a blog? I don’t even know. I’ve been spending so much time pretending the Internet doesn’t exist that I don’t even remember how to interact with it anymore. I haven’t Facebooked, Tweeted, or Instagrammed anything in weeks. What am I doing? Where am I going? I have no direction in life!

And this is what befalls a blogger who goes on a social media fast.

Can’t I just tap dance for you? I’m really good at it. Promise. Took lessons for so many years.

Speaking of lessons, here’s something I’m slowly learning on this social media fast.

You know those people who put pictures of their food on Instagram? Or post a Facebook status about finally being able to fit into their skinny jeans? Or tweet about getting a promotion? 

I’m not so far removed from the social sphere that I don’t understand the appeal of doing any of those things. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I love me some food (but not as much as my baby). But I think now that I’ve stepped back a bit, I have a better grip on the why behind this behavior.

Before I go on, I’d just like to dust my shoulders off and say that I do have a degree in mass communication with a minor in psychology from a Florida state school so I obviously know what I’m talking about to an extent. (I also know which bars you should go to and on which nights in order to get the highest volume of alcohol for the lowest amount of cash.)

The old adage asks the question, “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” I’d argue that today the question is, “If you do something in life but don’t tweet about it, did it really happen?”

While I don’t know for sure if this is the root of our Internet addiction and our need to be virtually affirmed, I definitely know that our culture does suggest that if it isn’t on social media, it isn’t real.

How sad.

That’s why when you tell your best friend that you’ve started seeing someone, she immediately asks why it isn’t “Facebook official” yet. Or why you upload a picture of your baby smiling to Instagram (but not a picture of them screaming). Or why the first thing you do when your alarm goes off in the morning is sleepily scour your Twitter feed.

I’ve been struggling a lot with this. Inner parts of my being are wracked with guilt over the fact that only a handful of people (those who I can show it to in person) have seen my baby say “dada” because I haven’t uploaded the video to Facebook. So, like, what if no one believes me? Or cares? I can’t gauge the world’s affirmation of my personal life because no one can like or comment on this video! It’s terrible!

I don’t think I’m ready to come back just yet. But I’m really enjoying re-learning how to process things and experience life in private.

That said, if you’re struggling with being affirmed by trolls on the Internet, just look at this gif.

i_can_typing-26439GOD IT JUST GETS ME EVERY TIME! I CAN’T STOP LOLLING RIGHT NOW.

 

 

update from the dark.

Oh hey, there. I know. It’s been quiet around here. Here’s why.

One week ago, I read this disturbing article about how the Internet — social media in particular — is making us crazy. It really freaked me out. It gave me so much anxiety that I couldn’t sleep.

So I decided to go on an indefinite social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) fast. Not just a “fast”, either. Like I legitimately deleted the apps from my iPhone and EVERYTHING. (Crazy, right? My smart phone is pretty dumb at this point. Unless you give some cred to the Uno app which, by the way, is super duper and I’m so glad I spent 99 cents on it!)

It’s not that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are inherently bad, perse. That’s not what I’m saying and I don’t think that’s what the article is saying. But it did raise a lot of harrowing truths about our society’s obsession with and actual addiction to these sites and the Internet as a whole.

I’ve been on this “cleanse” for about a week and already I see how I was basically tethered to social media. So many times in the first 24 hours of this fast I found myself mindlessly reaching for my phone, unlocking the screen… only to come to and realize that — oh yeah — I have nothing to look at. I “tried” to tweet FOUR TIMES while I was at the farmers market with my son. Four. Times.

Yikes. What in the name of all things holy would I need to tweet at 9am on a Saturday outing with my baby? That the carrots look extra orange today? The yellow squash is just a tad squishy for my taste? That the Maya Wrap is still ruling our world at 8 months? That there is a Girl Scout cookie booth set up for the first time? (Okay, that one almost deserved a tweet. Also I did buy Thin Mints and Trefoils, obviously.)

It’s been quite the sobering experience. But also liberating. I feel like I’m finally back in touch with reality.

That said, this week has been one full of things that are actually kind of social media worthy. So, without further ado:

HERE IS A LIST OF THINGS I’VE BEEN DYING TO TWINSTABOOK (Twitter-Instagram-Facebook) ALL WEEK:

1. my son’s milestones.

Well, this week was fit for the baby book, y’all.

  • FIRST WORD. Yep, this is a biggie. Dax said his first word just hours after I went on my social sabbatical. Of course. His first word was “dada” and everything is dada right now. Dada is dada, of course. But I am also dada. Also the pacifier. Also food. Also you. Yes, you reading this. You are dada, no paternity test required.
  • We are fitting him for his first suit! He’s the ring bearer in my cousin’s wedding next week. You guys. Wait until you see. You will pass out from the cuteness.
  • FOURTH TOOTH. There are four little chompers in that mouth now. In case you are wondering, we are still breastfeeding like champs and he doesn’t bite. * phew *
  • EIGHT MONTHS OLD. Ack. Time. Where are you going?!

8 months

2. i got straight bangs. 

Y’all. I haven’t had bangs like this since I was SEVEN. That is literally TWENTY YEARS AGO. Yikes. Anyway, my normal stylist is on maternity leave for another month but I had some serious roots showing and am in a wedding next week. So I saw my other friend and let her run wild on my head, which meant straight bangs and ombre color. Here is the before/after photo.

before_after

3. we’ve got some prospects.

We’ve been doing a lot of interviewing in central (and even south?) Florida, so I think we might not actually be homeless at the end of April. Hooray!

4. i’m learning photography.

I’m taking an online photography certification course which is, eh, okay I guess. Not because I want to be a professional photographer by any means but because I have a kick-butt DSLR that I’ve been treating like a point-and-shoot and I’m just over it. The whole point of me shelling out the cash for a DSLR was so I could take good pictures of my baby and not fork over money to legit photographers. Sorry for the honesty, y’all but we broke folks GOTTA BRING THE HUSTLE.

So. What’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from this photography class?

It’s freaking hard, okay. So much more difficult than just having a nice camera. Pat a photographer on the back next time you see one. Respect.

Alright, so, now you’re caught up! Back to your regularly scheduled Internet addiction.

secrets.

I love being a writer. I love writing this blog. I love to tell stories. I love expressing things about myself and others openly and honestly. Over the years, there have been many blessings that have come from my willingness to share my secrets with the world.

But there have been many negative repercussions from my openness as well.

Lately, I’ve been very in tune with some sacred echoes in my life.  The first echo I wrote about concerned the word “enough” and what that means for me and my journey. But even before that, and since then, I’ve also been really struggling with the idea of secrecy in my life.

Right on schedule with my internal struggles concerning this idea, Rachel Held Evans published a blog post about the sanctity of secrets in the public world. As soon as the title popped up on my Facebook feed, I knew it wasn’t coincidence; based on the title and summary alone, I figured that Evans’ blog post was specifically and divinely written for me. Clicking on it and reading it confirmed what I already assumed.

Here’s the excerpt in Evans’ post that really wrecked me:

As a girl who makes her living (and finds so much joy in) sharing her questions, ideas, insights, and experiences online and in books, the value that Jesus places on secrecy can be a bit disconcerting. All writers struggle with this, I think, but with our access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube, it’s easier than ever before to slip into the assumption that unless something is shared, it didn’t really happen, it didn’t really matter.

Lately I’ve been feeling that way — that if I don’t blog/tweet/Facebook/Instagram about my life, my life isn’t really happening. Just the other night, when I was suffering from yet another bout of insomnia, I snuggled up against my dead-to-the-world husband. In his sleep, he leaned down to kiss me on the forehead. It was so wonderful and perfect. But right after it happened I became wracked with conviction because the first thought in my mind was, I can’t wait to blog about this.

Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been bombarded by so many people, some I know and some I don’t, about the decisions Dan and I have made about our birth, child-rearing, nurturing, etc. And, for the most part, I’ve been completely candid and open about everything. Even when people disagreed with me. But it turned out that I was so open that, as my pregnancy progressed, people began to assume that they’d be able to be at the hospital when I went into labor and, in some extreme cases, actually in the delivery room for my son’s birth.

Before, I was so excited about becoming a mother and I was so thankful to have so many people share that sentiment with me that I didn’t think much about it. But with the “real deal” swiftly approaching, I’ve been really feeling it on my heart to protect those precious moments with my son and my family. Which is why the only people that will be in the delivery room when I have my son will be me, my son’s father, the doctors, and the nurses. (If I could somehow convince the doctors and nurses to not be in the room, I would, but they’re kind of a package deal at the hospital.)

But it’s not just the birth that I feel the need to protect. It’s not even just my son. It’s so much more than that. It’s the meetings I have with friends. It’s the books I read and the scribbles in my journal. It’s any and all things I am otherwise all-too-eager to share with people, no matter their influence in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. It will take all kinds of restraint to not blog/tweet/Instagram every moment I have with my baby, especially the first six weeks when I’m on maternity leave and up to my face in burp cloths. And this is not to say that I won’t blog as frequently, or as openly, but the discipline of keeping my real life and my family life still mine and not the Internet’s is one that I believe any writer/blogger/social media user should try to implement.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Check out Rachel’s full article here.

tuesday tip — pencil yourself in.

Earlier this week a friend of mine tweeted about hearing a sacred echo in her life. I was instantly jealous of her and, consequently, whiny — IIIIIII want a sacred echo! I want to have a clear vision of the direction I should go! I want to have an unarguable reason to do X or not do Y!!!!! *pout*

Isn’t there a saying about being careful of what you wish for or something?

Back in March of 2008, Dan asked me out on our first date — a low-key dinner followed by a concert. Take a second and think about how that probably went: maybe he met me somewhere, or pulled me aside at church or on campus, or called me up and said, “Good morrow, fair maiden Lindsay of Shaw. I happen to fancy you, therefore, I request your company  at a relatively inexpensive eatery followed by taking delight in the sounds of a musical company by the name of The Spill Canvas. Would you oblige, m’lady?” (That’s typically how that goes, right? I honestly don’t know because I’ve been out of the game a while and I’ve always been awkward when it comes to dating.)

That’s not how it went for us. Dan pried my day planner from my cold, rigor-mortis-esque fingers and opened it to the day of the show to see whether or not he could squeeze himself into my overfull schedule. By the grace of God, he was able to write himself in. Hooray! A date! Squeezed between work at a barbecue restaurant, a handful of college classes, and studying for midterms. Phew.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was talking to a friend of mine (not in person but over Facebook chat, which is actually an important detail) about how we all seem to be married to our schedules. We jam-pack each minute of each day with work, school, projects, meetings, appointments, etc., but we never intentionally schedule any free time for ourselves. She and I collectively lamented about our lack of free time and yet our inability to focus on the tasks we have in front of us because we are so easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even blogs (FBDC promotion fail.) We’ll find ourselves doing nothing, but we’re actually just avoiding doing something, which further stresses us out about the things we have already committed — vocationally, educationally, or otherwise — to do.

Well, self, there you go. You got your dang sacred echo. You need to break up with your planner every once in a while and schedule some down time to relax and take care of yourself.

Ugh, WHIIIIINEEEEE. But but but! Why? I’ve never been good at doing nothing! Being overworked and overstressed has always been my norm! I don’t know anything different! *pout*

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: PENCIL YOURSELF IN.

Today’s tip is one I (obviously) haven’t perfected yet. (Who am I kidding? I should probably rename my blog, “An extensive list of things I haven’t perfected yet.”) But it’s so important. Scheduling time to take care of yourself not only makes life more enjoyable, but it also brings the beautiful things about yourself — all the reasons you are so lovely — back into focus.

Now, when I say, “Pencil yourself in,” I don’t mean think to yourself, “I should have some me time later.” Oh no. I mean, very literally, to pencil yourself in to your planner/diary/Google calendar/iPhone/whatever. Seriously. If we don’t treat this like an actual meeting or obligation, we might not follow through because this is how we’re wired now. In the 21st century, this is our reality.

If you’re like me and you have no idea where to start on taking care of yourself, here’s a list of things you can schedule to rejuvenate you after you meet all the other demanding obligations  you put on yourself. (And remember, the idea here is focus on your wonderful self, to destress and refresh, so if cooking, for example, makes your heart palpitate and your head explode — welcome, kindred spirit — then, obviously, don’t try that.)

  • Going for a walk in the park alone, with no iPod or cell phone with you.
  • Taking a yoga class.
  • Looking up and trying a new recipe.
  • Journaling.
  • Taking a short road trip, if even to the next town over, to explore.
  • Painting.
  • Working on your car or house.
  • [Insert your idea here.]

And — HERE IS THE KEY — make this scheduled “you” time non-negotiable. If a friend invites you out to dinner or your brother and his wife need someone to watch their baby while they go on a date, refuse. Nothing horrible will ever happen to you if you say no to another person in order to say yes to yourself. Never think that taking care of yourself should be secondary to taking care of anything else, whether those things are work-related, school-related, or people-related. If you don’t have any of yourself left, what benefit are you to the obligations you have?

The answer? None. None, I’m afraid. So, good Lord, child. Get off the Internet and take a hot bath or something.