But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
2 Timothy 2:3
Because of the rise of social media I now have the chance to argue politics and religion with people most any day, any hour. That being said, I love social media. I love it a lot. For an introvert it’s like heaven on earth. I can engage or not engage. I can watch. I can listen. I can learn…
And I can craft a version of myself in the virtual world that is compelling and interesting. I can wipe away my crippling bouts of real life social anxiety. I can be outgoing and friendly without a thought about how I tripped on the way up the stairs or walked around with toilet paper on my shoe or about the stupid and thoughtless remark I made offhand as I walked out the door.
Social media even gives me a chance to test out my grand mediator skills. The 2012 election was a marathon of engagement and entertainment on Facebook and Twitter. I only lost my cool a few times. All in all, I managed to avoid the strife.
My priest is not into social media. He doesn’t see the value of it and he warns about the drawbacks. I’m thankful for that. As I have told him, I know it’s his job. He’s the dentist telling me to floss. It’s still my decision about whether I’ll draw that little waxy string in between those tight pearly whites, those spots where cavities start, eating away at the enamel. It’s his job to tell me what he thinks about things like Facebook and I respect that.
But this is the world my children were born into. They don’t live by the same rules, the same boundaries, the same pixelation. Because of that I have to become a pioneer. Because of that my interactions, my mistakes on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr help make me an expert to my children. Don’t get me wrong, as I stated, I love social media. It’s not a sacrifice for me to learn the hard way here.
My thoughts today as I read the passage bring me into the light of this tension, of seeking wisdom, of discerning the best path forward without completely abandoning the road and without losing myself in the dust storm of technology. My daughter is already having these online experiences. She is already having online arguments with “trolls.” She is navigating these choppy, newly discovered waters and I’m thankful that she comes to me, because I’m the expert, at least for now. And yet I realize too, the wisdom of keeping it all in check, keeping my identity firmly rooted in things outside cyberspace lest I fall into the delusion that the filtered version of my life is actually my reality. I am not my Facebook profile. My life is far messier, blurry and out of focus. It’s one thing for me to convince other people that the glossy photos and impressive check ins are a true representation of me…it’s downright dangerous for me to believe it is the full truth of my life.
I may never floss, though I know my dentist is wise for suggesting it. I may never quit social media but I do have the words of my priest in my ear each time I sign on, hoping they help to stave off the decay.