I Want to Live a Life Like That
Emily McCaul | Monday, February 5, 2018
What’s crazy is that I now live in a reality where my laptop is worth more than my living room furniture, mis-matched and pleathery as it is, it’s still mine—and I love it. But I spend more time in a week talking to acquaintances, or people I barely know, online than I do with people in my own living room. I couldn’t help but wonder … is there a reason this has become the norm for most Millennials, and even more so now, Generation Z? With as much time as I spend making and sipping on coffee in that familiar space, you’d think I’d have a few more faces to share the mornings with.
And the truth is, I do. I do have those faces, those friends, and those sweet people in my life that I want to know better. I have a cracked pleather couch and a killer coffee mug collection. And still, I’m spending more time in that space with my laptop out, singular coffee mug in hand, and silence surrounding me. I realized finally that perhaps what I’m battling, and what I may be so bold as to say this generation is battling, is an assertiveness to reach out.
Personally, I’m fearful. I’m fearful I can’t compete. I’m fearful that in a world where our identities are becoming more and more defined within the exclusive corners of cyberspace, my company may no longer stand a chance against the increasing likes, comments—and honestly—hits of dopamine people receive from their hundreds and thousands of online acquaintances.
And I don’t write this from a place of condemnation; no, I share this transparently, as someone who is guilty of sitting on both sides of that computer screen. It’s a rush, a thrill, a (embarrassingly at times) joy, to be reminded that our popularity or worth can now be quantified.
And once we have a number, we know where to set our personal bar for achievement. Anything that rises above that bar appears to be a success, whereas anything that falls below the bar becomes a failure … but honestly, can we take a second to think about that? To even just define that word “failure?” To look at the context of where we’re placing our self worth? It’s like we’re handing out clipboards and pens and asking people to just fill out these self evaluations for us—people we barely know—so we can find out who we are again.
Again, I say this because I’m totally guilty of asking people to line up and fill out these self-evaluations for me myself, but when we don’t like what we see—or even more lethal—we compare our “results” to those of people we barely know, we forget why we ever thought to post our thoughts, share our memories, or put ourselves “out there” in the first place. It’s slowly diminishing the confidence and security of those social media site-goers more and more each year; it seems people have identified that there’s a problem, but few have taken the additional step to talk about a solution.
Please somebody, can I get an Amen? Is there someone else out there that sees this problem? That’s experiencing the pain that’s unwelcomely slithered into this shift in mindset? We are losing the beauty of the early-morning conversation, community-building, and time spent investing in life-long friendships to the wavering comforts and exploration of the daily ego-stroke. It’s soul numbing; until one day … it just isn’t anymore, and you look up from your computer and stare at the empty space across from you on the couch, kitchen table, or coffee bar and think: How did I get here?
To anyone who can relate to the pain of those words, I want to say, I am with you in the struggle. There is a truth we can hold onto amid the confusion: Life is, and was always intended to be, far greater than the entrapments of loneliness, comparison and perfectionism. Social media was never meant to be our God. I wanted to share my own life and my own struggles, because I want to say that I see the problem, I’ve fallen victim to the problem, and I want to make a change to step out of its facade of fulfillment. I want to invite people over for real conversation, because I’m tired of believing that the depth of a friendship today can only go as far as few responses to comments on an Instagram post.
I’ve found that often times the reason I’m spending so much time online is because I’m enthralled by the people who are living and documenting the lives that I really want to live.
I silently think to myself: I wish I could live life like that. But the awesome truth is that we can! We don’t have to fall victim to the lie that our lives are only as exciting as social media tells us they can be.
So? There you have it. That’s a window into my internal dialogue; it’s messy. I’m tired of it, and I want to make a change not only for myself, but as a way of offering encouragement to those amid the same struggle. It’s not only possible, but conquerable, so to anyone who finds themselves in a similar season of soul-sucking social media syndrome (lol I just made that up, but wow points for alliteration) let’s fight the lie that tells us we’re incapable of taking those first steps to having someone over for coffee, making a new friend, or taking a current friendship deeper. We can and we will walk in confidence again, because we are fueled by the resounding truths that:
1.) Creation (AKA: you and me) was never meant to live life in bondage or corruption. || Romans 8:21
2.) We were created for freedom; it’s in our innermost makeup and nature to walk freely. || Galatians 5:1
We are free to live life in all of its fullness and engage in the relationships we were biologically and spiritually created to need and enjoy. Let’s put social media back in its place again—and I don’t mean that we all need to purge ourselves of the Internet or disengage from life online in its entirety.
Side note: Most of my career as a communications professional and writer involves using social media as a tool—but friends, that is the simple truth and reality of all it should ever be—a tool. Social media is one of several avenues we can use to connect with others; it’s not an alternative to relationships.
Let’s live the life we want to live and embrace the life of freedom we have access to in this season; invite people in, share time together in your living room again, and remind yourself what a gift it is to truly engage with others.
P.S. you’re all invited over for coffee.