Throwback: The Public Secret Soul – pt. 1

 ​I first started blogging in 2011 and I had a blog with Some of the posts have been re-hashed and added to this one but I thought I’d share some of my old posts with you in their original form so you can see how my thoughts and writing has changed over time. Enjoy! Feedback welcome!

     Hey guys, I’m becoming increasingly aware that one of the biggest boundaries to us developing real, authentic relationships with each other is social media. Don’t run away! This isn’t just another “let’s have a bash at social media” blog I promise… I just want to look a little at what I feel is one of the (very) negative effects of one of the ways we seem to use social media. I use social media a lot and struggle with some of the issues I want to discuss so I’m speaking from my own experiences as well, not some high horse mentality. I’ll say from the start that I am totally not immune to this but maybe this post will help me and you too! Wana ride this crazy train with me? No? Ok, maybe see you next time….as for the rest of you, slap on your 3D glasses! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

……………..unless you’re just sat at a computer screen in which case it’s probably not. Sorry.

Too Much Information…

     Ok so personally I think it should be weird for you to get a breakdown of every detail of my day. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you don’t know me very well (if you don’t know me at all, wow thanks for reading my blog!). I think people are naturally social. We like to hang out with people we know and swap stories. Since celeb mags are still being bought and sold we also know that we like to know personal things about people we don’t really know either. Reality TV show ratings tell us we love watching people and knowing what they are doing, without them knowing we’re watching them and the comments section of youtube tells us we LOVE to make our opinion on everything known! All of this is sometimes to an obsessive degree (you know who you are) and were we to do it in the world beyond cyber space we’d soon find ourselves in jail, in a mental institute, with a warning from the police are at least with the sore nose. The issue is, today this sort of behaviour has become totally normal, at least to those of us who have the internet following us around in various forms. I want to look at this a little and try to reflect on the ways it affects us in our relationships with each other and if you’re a Christian, with God. 

     Technology has become the megaphone of the human mind and today there are just so many ways to make your thoughts heard aren’t there? Blogs, vlogs, clogs…ok maybe not clogs but you could definitely post a picture of your clogs and tell everyone how you feel about them! Tweets and statuses also help you to let the world know how your day is going so that the instant you have a thought, you can make it so that anyone in the world with internet access can know exactly what you think about…you know, stuff!! Positive or negative! “My boyfriend broke up with me!” “I met a celebrity!” “I hate Margaret Thatcher.” “I love chocolate.” We even post statuses about being annoyed about other people posting statuses that we don’t like! Like I said before this isn’t just another rant on social media. I just want to take a bit of a closer look at what’s going on behind some of our online behaviour because I think it may be affecting something I consider pretty precious.

     Have you ever been to the doctor and they tapped you in the knee with a tiny hammer and your leg twitches a tiny bit. It’s no big deal but you freak out like it just talked to you or something?! It’s called a reflex right? I think in the West a new reflex has developed in the human body. It starts in the brain. We have a thought, or a feeling about something we see or something that happens. It’s usually not actually a big deal but suddenly electronic impulses fly from our brains down our arms into our fingers and before we know it, BAM!! It’s all over some social media website, dripping with hashtags and exclamation marks!!! When we snap out of it all that’s left is an insatiable longing and desire to see someone like or comment on what we’ve posted be it a blog (cough cough), a status or an instagram edited sepia photo. We yearn for hearty approval of the article we posted that we didn’t write and this somehow makes us feel fulfilled. Validated. We’re ready to bark at and joust with anyone who doesn’t agree and chest bump and high five everyone who does (All of this looks a little different among the Church community but we’ll get to that in the next post).

The Soul and the Secret Place
     So what’s the big deal? What’s point? What’s the concern? There’s two actually. One is the soul. Yes the soul and the other is… “Dude what the heck does the soul have to do with Facebook and Twitter?” Since you’re here and apparently willing to read on (even though you rudely interrupted me), I’ll try to explain my thoughts. First of all, there are lots of definitions of what the “soul” of a person is. I’m not going super deep on that one right now, I’ll just let you know that when I say “soul” I’m talking about your mind, will and emotions. If it helps, whenever you read soul say “mind, will and emotions” in your head okay? Awesome. I think that we’re paying less and less attention to what’s going on in our soul before shooting it out all over the internet where people can affirm or wound us. We’re either regurgitating stuff we read or watch or we’re displaying the ongoings of our personal lives for all to see or we’re photographing everything and anything. Many of us are no longer taking  time to mull things over, take moments in or even enjoy them before sharing them with the world! My friend Dave challenged me as a group of us were walking down the street doing something pretty weird and hilarious and I immediately went for my phone to make a video. “Just enjoy the moment” he said. Simple but profound. I think this is dangerous. I’m not at all saying that posting about your day or taking photos or any of this stuff is inherently “bad” by the way so please keep reading.

     My second concern is just that we’re losing our sense of privacy and the value for our souls* as well as what some Christians call the “Secret Place” (more on that in Part 2). We’re giving the keys to our souls away for free! People used to have to get to know you before they knew your relationship troubles! People used to have to come to your house before they saw what you had for dinner! We end up feeling close to people who really aren’t sharing our lives with us. Social media seems to amplify our insecurities too. What did we do before we had to be constantly aware of trying to impress everyone we knew with the harrowing and daring tale of our trip to the bus stop in the rain? What did we do before we had to worry about getting just the right shading on our instagram photo to ensure people thought we really time-travelled to the 50s? What did we do before…you get the picture. THIS IS WEIRD!! For most of us, we probably just enjoyed the moment and shared the stories with our close friends and the odd stranger on the train! For some of us I think social media is really a way of making ourselves and our lives feel more special and I think that’s sad. We allow people to judge our lives through likes and comments or the lack thereof and these judgements can then shape our views of ourselves and our lives. What if all my friends hate the film I just tweeted that I love?! Do I change my opinion on it? “Well it really wasn’t that good…” We’re letting other people do our soul-searching for us! What’s up with that?!?!

     I think people need to have friends. Good friends, close friends. But friends shouldn’t entirely replace your inner world and your interaction with your soul. Before you think I’m getting all weird and esoteric (a cool word I learnt) I’m just talking about being more intentional in thinking about what goes through your mind, the things you want to do and the way you feel about stuff before immediately shoving them online. Let’s be real, a lot of us are seeking validation from our online buddies. We want everyone to believe our life is amazing, maybe even better than theirs!! We want them to know we’re a really witty, maybe even wittier than them!! Some of us intentionally post very little on social media but the motive is the same. We want people to think we’re too cool or too busy for that stuff. We want them to think better of us, maybe even better than themselves. Have you spotted yourself anywhere in this blog yet? I find asking yourself some questions can really help you get beneath the surface of what’s going on in your soul and why (the Holy Spirit is very good at being honest with you if you suck at it yourself). It’s ok to have needs but how you get them met is very important for the health of your soul. Do you tag tons of people in your statuses about events so that other people can think that you’re really popular going to events with lots of people and that you’re loved by everyone? When God says something to you do post it up straight away so everyone can see or do you actually talk to Him about it?

I said I’d get personal with the Christians earlier and now seems like a good time. To take a break. You can leave your comments and questions here if you like or if you want you can jump over to Part 2

Thanks for reading!

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