Social media’s shocking reveal: we’re different

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One of my earliest selfies was in the 8th grade.

It was 1995, and a group of us were at a retreat. My roommate and I were up all hours of the night, of course, talking about what boys we liked from the other schools, playing MASH, and just plain being silly. Apparently, at some point, I also took a selfie with my disposable camera. The moment is forever memorialized in my 8th grade scrapbook.

It wouldn’t be my last selfie.  It certainly wasn’t the last time I took a ridiculous amount of photos at an event, vacation, or just a general day in the life of Natalie.

I remember our first big family vacation. I was 8 years old. My mom gave me a notebook and told me to write in it every day about what we did. “You’ll want to remember this trip!” she told me. I still have that little notebook.

IMG-1560I have more than 25 scrapbooks. That doesn’t even include the fancy books we can make nowadays online, which I have about a dozen of those. But I’m talking full-blown, photos glued to paper, scrapbooks. I have chronicled most of my life via scrapbook.

Now, I chronicle most of my life via Facebook and Instagram. I post selfies. I post fun or interesting things I’ve had to eat. I post my feelings. I share memories. It’s just how I am.

And compared to you… that might be different.

Nothing compares to social media when it comes to highlighting our differences. Our political differences, our religious differences, our differences in personality. Those differences have always been there, but now they are highlighted for the world to see.

Maybe you think selfies are ridiculous. Maybe you would never take one. Perhaps taking a photo of your food would be too embarrassing for you, or you just think it’s silly. That’s OK. Not everyone is like you. Not everyone is like me.

I get it. I struggle with everyone not being like me sometimes. I want people to care more about some issues and less about others. The truth is, however, that we’re always going to be different. And that’s not an excuse to cut people down.

I hear such hateful speech from some people about the most random things. And I’m not going to start apologizing for Instagramming my Starbucks or posting a selfie on Facebook. This is who I am. You might find it stupid, but that doesn’t mean I am stupid. And just because it’s not your personality to do those things, doesn’t mean it can’t be mine.

(I do NOT believe, however, that “This is who I am” is an excuse treat people poorly. But that’s another blog post for another time. God did NOT create you to be a jerk!)

starbysWe’re DIFFERENT. Have we forgotten that in society? If I drink pumpkin spice lattes and you don’t, that doesn’t in any way, shape, or form mean I’m “basic” or unintelligent. We simply have different tastes.

Teasing is one thing, and I am surrounded by many people who love to tease, and I tease back! But I have also noticed some people in my life who aren’t teasing. They’re judging my very personality and the things that bring joy to my life and have since I was younger. So it’s time to create some distance.

Don’t let people make fun of you because of who you are. God made us each unique. Highlight that as much as you want to on social media. Or don’t. Either way, you were wonderfully and fearfully made by a God who loves you. (Psalm 139:14)

One more thing to all my single ladies: There is a man out there who will love you for who you are. He might think having an Instagram for your cat is ridiculous. He might tease you repeatedly for using Snapchat filters. But he will love you, and none of that will matter. Be YOU. It’s an incredible feeling to be loved for being 100% authentically YOU.

Super awesome ways use Facebook to lead people to Christ (not really)

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If you don’t have social media accounts, try naming your business something ultra-churchy like this supermarket I saw in Uganda.

PART I: We are better than everyone else

Jesus made it pretty clear: “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

Facebook, and other social media, make this as easy as it’s ever been. I’m “friends” with a lot Christians on Facebook, and I’ve noticed that the following are the top ways Christians must be trying to lead people to Christ:

1. Argue with nonChristians via comments. The key here is to be as nasty as possible. If a nonChristian posts something about the environment or *GASP!* animal cruelty, be sure to remind them of how awful ISIS and abortion are. This will quickly open their eyes to what a loving God we serve by slapping them in the face and telling them that their feelings about a topic are invalid.

2. Make it clear that you oppose homosexuality. Don’t let there be any question about how much you hate homosexuals. Make posts about this as often as you can. Before you know it, that nonChristian homosexual you know will be sitting in the pew next to you after he/she hears about what an awful person they are. High-five for reposting that blog about how the LGBT community is destroying our country!  (But be sure not to mention anything like premarital sex between heterosexual couples because, yeah, that’s a sin, but it’s not as bad as the gay people).

3. Never let on that you sin or struggle. You’re a CHRISTIAN. Remember that. And since you accepted Christ, you haven’t sinned. Doesn’t it feel good? Make sure everyone who is friends with you on Facebook knows what an angel you are.

4. Talk about politics. Often. Jesus was pretty hardcore about politics, and He often talked crap about Roman government leaders. He was also always telling people how their political party had everything to do with their identity. Right up there with being a Christian is being a republican or democrat. (Republicans hate the poor, Democrats hate babies- where do you stand?)

5. Remember this famous verse: “Some have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But you are not one of those people, so it is your duty to remind others that they HAVE fallen short. Hold your head high Christian, you are one of the good ones!

If you can follow those five simple rules for being a Christian on Facebook, you’ll be leading people to Christ in no time! Jesus was adamant about making people feel guilty about their sin, for boasting in self righteousness and being as nasty as possible to scare people into believing in Him.

We CAN keep this up. Eventually it’s got to work, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a Christ follower with all the awesome posts we make on Facebook?

Coming soon: PART II

 

Social media: not getting in my way

I’ve been journaling since the third grade. Yes, I literally record pretty much every moment of my entire life via written word and/or photographs. That’s just how I am. It’s really no wonder I became a journalist and started documenting other people’s lives.

Snapping a pic of my meal this evening didn't ruin any memories in the making.
Snapping a pic of my meal this evening didn’t ruin any memories in the making.

I love life. I love my life. I love seeing other people’s lives because I love people. I love people because I love God, and God tells us to love people. I enjoy seeing people’s lives on social media, and I equally enjoy sharing my own. I don’t believe it has in any way, shape, or form, had a negative impact on how I experience life.

There’s no question that many people spend too much time on social media. However, I’m tired of feeling attacked and seeing all these blog posts and videos and status updates about “missing life” because  you’re putting something on Instagram, writing a status update or Tweeting.

Excuse me… what?

If Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, are a problem for you, than that’s exactly what it is: a problem for you.

I’ve been in Uganda for almost 10 months now. One of my favorite things to do when I get homesick is look back through photos on my Instagram from when I was home. It reminds me of home, and it makes my heart so incredibly happy! Do I regret the 25 seconds I took out of my day to post a picture of me and my niece a year ago- a photo that would bring me happiness in the present as well as in the future? Of course not! I didn’t “miss” anything. If anything, I captured a moment so I could cherish it forever.

There’s no need to knock people who make the choice to not utilize social media to document their lives, but I also don’t see the reason to criticize those of us who do.

Life is beautiful. I love to share that life with my friends and family who want to see it. And honestly, I know a few people who have lost family photos and journals to house fires, hurricanes, tornados, etc., who would give anything to have those memories back. I love the fact that my memories are somewhere reasonably safe- on social media.

Getting a picture with my friends only helps me remember the fun we had this evening!
Getting a picture with my friends only helps me remember the fun we had this evening!

Isn’t it slightly ironic that the same people telling others to get off social media have invested a great deal of their time writing blogs and making videos about staying off social media? Not to mention the fact that social media will be what propels their very argument?

Tonight we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We took lots of pictures, and I will post them on Instagram, Facebook, etc. I’ve even posted them with this blog post. For me it didn’t interrupt my moment or my memory. In fact, it will do just the opposite. I believe it will enhance my memories.

Don’t tell people they are “missing life” because they happen to live their life differently from you. If social media is getting in your own way of living life, then of course, you need to back off. But some of us love life, and we love sharing it. I am overjoyed with the blessings God has given me, and I’m not going to stop sharing that with the world.

In defense of the “selfie”…

IMG_20131116_051646Annoying. Narcissistic. Those are the two words one of my Facebook friends had to say about people who take selfies. I know plenty of people who would agree with him. But I would like to defend the selfie-  the photographs we take of ourselves and post on social media.

Argument #1: You post pics of your kids. I don’t have any, so I post pics of myself.
The number one group of people I see knocking the selfie are those with children. The people who post photo after photo of their child doing this and that are annoyed by the rest of us posting pictures of ourselves. It makes perfect sense that a parent’s life would revolve around his or her children. It should. If you don’t have children, who does your life revolve around? Yourself. It doesn’t mean your selfish, it just means you’re at a different stage in life.

Argument #2: There’s a difference between posting a selfie and being narcissistic.
“I am looking so fine today! #gorgeous #beautiful #hotmama.” “Be jealous ladies! You don’t look this good and you never will! #Ilookgood.” Even Instagram posts like that make my skin crawl. There’s a huge difference between taking a nice picture of yourself and announcing to the world how hot you think you are.

Argument #3: What happened to promoting confidence?
Posting a selfie doesn’t mean you love yourself so much that you have to show everyone how you look all the time, but don’t we promote an attitude of confidence this day and age? Aren’t we supposed to be telling younger generations that they should feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel pressured to look like super models? If I feel confident enough to think, “I look nice today!” is there really something so terrible about posting a selfie? There’s such a false connotation with being confident these days and it being mistaken for narcissism. Taking selfies of yourself and posting them all over your room? Now THAT’S narcissism.

Argument #4: Believe it or not, some people do want to see selfies.IMG_20130911_101949
I moved to Uganda almost four months ago. My close friends and family members don’t get to see me except for the photos I post on Facebook. These people flat out tell me that they enjoy seeing my face and how I’m doing in Uganda. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there who the only way people ever see them is on social media. Whether it’s a photo you took of yourself or one someone else took of you, what does it matter?

Argument #5: Who cares?
I take people off my Facebook newsfeed, Twitter and Instagram all the time when I get tired of their political and religious rants. If you’re tired of people’s selfies, I suggest you do the same.

As you can see from the pictures in this post, I do take selfies. Not on a daily or even weekly basis, but every once in awhile I will take a selfie. For me, this is actually quite a testament to how far I’ve come. Let me explain.

Throughout high school, college and in my 20’s, I never felt pretty. I never felt like I was even remotely attractive. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly realized I wasn’t all that unfortunate looking. For me to take a picture of myself and post it where people can see it shows how my confidence has grown, and it’s also a part of my testimony.IMG_20130724_181827

Like everyone else, I was created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) Once I truly accepted God’s love for me and found my full worth in Him, my confidence soared. I began to feel beautiful on the inside, and that confidence radiated to my exterior as well. I am confident in being the woman God created me to be. I don’t see what’s so narcissistic about that.

“Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.”

Psalms 20:7

Not alone in brokenness…

“It’s just been really tough.”

I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of her mouth.

“I’ve really been struggling with that,” someone else told me the next day.

I nearly fell out of my seat.

I have this tendency to think that everyone around me is perfectly happy. I see their positive Facebook posts, the smiles on their faces each day at school, and I assume that they’ve adjusted to Africa with ease. I then tell myself that I am a lesser person because I am not adjusting as well.

There’s another lie I often tell myself about other people, especially other Christians- that their lives have been magically perfect. That they’ve never made a mistake. That their families have no problems. That their lives have always been easy.

But I’m learning, the more I get to know my co-workers and become friends with them, that we’re all struggling in our own ways. We each have a story to tell. In some way, we are each broken.

Everyone on this planet is broken, but only some of us have discovered the glue that keeps us from completely falling apart when things get tough: God’s love and grace.

It’s comforting to know that many of my co-workers who, like me, are living in Africa for the first time and are feeling somewhat “broken.” And honestly, it’s a beautiful thing. If we didn’t feel broken, what need would there be for God? If we aren’t broken, we don’t need God to hold us together.

I’m learning to be content with being broken. I know I am only broken in a sense of this world, and that God is the one who makes me complete. I also know that no matter what the Facebook updates show, other people are broken as well, and with God leading our lives, we’ll get through this transition together.

“I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.”

Psalm 31:12

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

When did class go out the window?

Sure I’ve had my “unclassy” days- my days in college where my shirt was a little too low-cut, I drank a little too much, and swore a little too often. And while I’m not the perfect lady at all times, somewhere along the line, I grew up. I found class and most of the time, I think I exude it.

What is class? “Elegance of style, taste, and manner” according to the dictionary. To me, class is not advertising the fact that you’re a slut. It’s not dressing like a whore and yet walking around complaining that guys only want one thing. Having class is having confidence, it’s being funny without being vulgar, it’s being sexy without being trashy.

From my experience, I’ve seen that class is NOT a desirable trait in women for most men around here.

Most of my female friends understand what class is. They are beautiful, educated, smart, funny, driven women who would make any man happy. But that’s not what most men appear to be looking for. I see guys being attracted to trashy, potty-mouthed women who wear next-to-nothing anytime they step out on a Saturday night.

I’m not hating on these women- that’s their choice if they wish to act like that and dress like that. No one should hide who they really are. I’m just curious as to why men are no longer attracted to a woman with class. A woman with class isn’t always a prude. Women with class can be sexy without being trashy- isn’t that desirable?

Apparently not. I see who I thought were smart, classy men chasing girls who post half-naked pictures of themselves on Facebook and tasteless Twitter updates.

If having some class is what is keeping me and some of my friends single, then so be it. We’re not a bunch of no-personality-having prudes or anything. I’d guess I’d rather wait around for a man who desires a woman with class than worry about the ones chasing women with none.

Ladies- what do you think? And guys, feel free to shed some light on this. If guys are going for women with no class, is it because they are only looking for fun, and not a serious relationship? Or is it something else?