TMI (Part 2)

In my last post, I sought to draw attention to the overwhelming amount of information we are exposed to. Then I asked whether my adding a blog to the mix was just too much, just more ‘noise’ in an already loud world. But I also asked whether there might be grace enough for me to seek to write and find my voice anyhow.

This time I’d like to look a bit closer at all of our involvement with this information overload. Because we’re all partly responsible. Yeah, all of us.

Are you a Facebook user? I am. And the emphasis is probably on user. I probably overuse the site—abuse it, really.

It’s a place we both love and hate, isn’t it?

We use it to keep up with old friends, connect with family, read odd news, stalk people, and waste time.

But my issue today isn’t with all of those various uses, but on answering the questions: Do we share too much? Do we reveal too much about ourselves in a public setting?

Well, the quick and easy answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Otherwise we wouldn’t find ourselves sounding off about some people’s overuse, “unfriending” people that have irritated us, and generally complaining about how cluttered our timeline is.

And let me be quick to say that Facebook isn’t the only place this happens, but it’s definitely the most popular of the various social media sites. But my aim isn’t at Facebook as much as it is at us, the users and subscribers.

But what is the problem exactly? Why do we think people post too much? Why do we post too much? And who defines what is too much? Because I don’t think I do, but I certainly think you might.

What’s behind this information overload, both the desire to consume and the desire to share things that complete strangers can discover about us?

Wait, you only post those things on your timeline and only your friends can see them because of your privacy settings? Did you forget that this is all on the Worldwide web?! Nothing is deleted. Nothing is hidden. It’s all there—for anybody with enough time, energy, and desire to dig it up.

But I’m getting distracted now. Surprise, surprise.

So what’s the basis for this behavior?

Here’s my thought: at the core of this personal information overload is the desire to be known. We all want to be loved. To let others see who we really are and then to be accepted for that reality. So we seek opportunities to have our voices heard, our pictures viewed, our kids adored and ultimately, to be loved for and through it all.

But somewhere along the way we get swept up in it and the desire to be accepted wins out over authenticity and we begin to project the best versions of ourselves. Instead of just desiring to be loved, we move to a space where we want our lives envied. We become discontent with others loving us for who we are and instead want them to love to be us. It becomes a non verbalized sort of competition. A dangerous and graceless competition. But it isn’t real life. We’ve set up highlights of ourselves which turn out to be veneer covering an either truly shallow existence or deep wounds we are afraid of revealing.

We post more, to be loved more.

Once again, the problem isn’t Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest . . . okay, maybe Pinterest is the problem.

The sites will change. Culture demands that. Todays Facebook is tomorrow’s Myspace. Whatever the forum, we’ve got to learn to leverage these spaces for opportunities to connect in meaningful and vulnerable relationships, with noncompete clauses. Life is hard enough without having the pressure of competing with friends through social media.

Instead, might I suggest we use these sites to engage with grace?

To recognize that sometimes it isn’t the content which speaks loudest and clearest, but it’s form and frequency.

Let’s seek to understand the content, but accept and love the person behind it. Let’s be those who are so winsome and free with our grace that the Spirit uses us to draw people into Jesus, where full acceptance, satisfaction and validation are found.

We don’t have to muster up this love on our own. We don’t have to fabricate feelings. We merely need to pass on what is already our’s in Jesus. Let’s be conduits of the grace we’ve received from the Father.

Do you agree? Do we share too much? Is it possible to continue to share our lives, but to move towards it happening in a meaningful and encouraging way?

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2 thoughts on “TMI (Part 2)

  1. Hey Brett, this is the first time I’ve had a chance to check out your blog. This is a really powerful, thought-provoking post.

    Great line – “We post more, to be loved more.” I’ve never thought about why so many of us post more in the context of love, but you are exactly right. We have pretty much always craved love and validation, and this intrinsic need has simply taken on a new form in the 21st century by virtue of social media.

    As for me, I am more transparent on my blog than on Facebook or Twitter. The latter two I would consider more geared toward the highlights. Within a blog setting, I have developed some deep friendships because we are able to dig deeper and discuss matters of the heart.

    1. Brett Shilton

      Chris, first of all, thank you for reading! And then, thanks for commenting and being so gracious about the post.

      I think I would probably agree with you on the transparency thing with blogs vs. Facebook and Twitter. The limitation of the latter two is that there isn’t much opportunity to give context. That’s especially true with Twitter—though I’ve formed a number of very good friendships there. But a blog builds a space for context for every post and I think that allows the vulnerability a place to be rooted and provides opportunity for those deeper relationships.

      I’m still working at developing this blog and the relationships that can be fostered and strengthened through it; thanks for being an encouragement!

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