Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Seeking peace in the age of Instagram

Recently I tapped the Instagram app on the Amazon Fire and felt that knot in my stomach I had been getting lately when I saw a person I follow had posted another Story available to watch.  Now, why would I follow someone who has this affect?

Well, she has a way with words that is beautiful and many of my "friends" also follow her.  So, of course, I needed to view what she had to say throughout each week.  Except... I don't.  For she was robbing my much sought after peace.

Which is ironic for she writes a lot about being spiritual and seeking peace and being kind to people and caring about those whom the world undervalues and racial reconciliation and showing love to people... but there is a catch.  She has more and more included snarky comments about those who do not agree with her politics and worldview.  That would be people like me.

What I realized this week was that snarky is just as arrogant and uncaring when clothed in poetic prose as it is on a Twitter feed of a few characters.  I don't even follow Twitter but I hear about it enough to know I do not belong there... not while seeking peace.

So why am I, in the one social media location I consider my Happy Place, following someone on purpose who maligns my beliefs and uses beautiful prose to fuel antagonism from others towards people like me?  That question was one I asked myself as I decided to follow no more.

Now, I'm not saying that I follow only people who agree with me on everything.  There are people that I know are completely different in their beliefs than I am.  However, they do not use poetry and prose to jab away at people who have conservative values.  Especially under the guise of being spiritual.

I love to listen to the teaching of Ravi Zacharias and I try to watch one of the showings of his teaching each week on TV.  Sometimes they just have the title of his name and other stations may title them, "Let My People Think".  Which is what they do... they make me think.

Recently he was in a Q & A session when he was asked about the morality of this age.  His statement was that as bad as it is today, there were times when it was worse such as in Ancient Rome.  However... and this was a big however... technology puts it in an entirely different perspective today.

There were a few reasons for this and I can only remember a couple that resonated with me at the time.  First, people can now have access to sin and evil in the palm of their hands all day every day.  Up until very recently, if someone wanted to look at certain photos or view certain acts, they had to get up and go somewhere.  Now it can be in front of their eyes immediately.

The second point he made was that at no time in history were people connected immediately as they are today.  Where as people had to get together in person to talk, they now have access to not a few but thousands of people at any one time in the palm of their hand.  Which intensifies the ability to see, hear, cause, and do evil.

Even when not using technology to do evil, it can certainly remove our peace.  Most often, we let it do so by our own choices.  It can not only take us towards thoughts we would have steered clear of before, technology can also distract us from that which is good... that which brings peace.

Ravi Zacharias stated that he had been asked to speak to the people at a Google conference.  He told the story about hearing a statement that while we have plenty of smart phones around, we have no wise phones.  He doubted the people at Google appreciated the statement, however true it is.

I view the technology which made social media available as a very good thing.  It enables me to keep in touch with family a thousand miles away.  It has provided blessed friendships with people I have never met.  I can watch a movie on a screen being held in my hands and download a book I want to read in a matter of seconds.

That was the stuff of Science Fiction not all that long ago.

Technology can do a lot but we must always remember that the choices remain ours.  If there is something in that technology that is robbing us of peace, then it is time to step back and reflect what that something is... as we remember no one is forcing us to read, follow, "like", look at, or listen to what that technology enables us to do 24/7.

I first learned this lesson during the past election in the States.  It certainly opened my eyes to how some people I have "known" online for years really felt about conservatives in general and Bible believing Christians specifically.  I can't tell you how many people I un-followed, un-liked, and even took off the blog list on the sidebar due to mean spirited and inappropriate words.

But I got lackadaisical again.  I read and watched in a trance-like state as I looked and clicked and swiped left for more... and wondered why I had lost my peace.  This past week, I awoke from the trance.  I saw how ridiculous it was to bring people into my home via social media... on purpose!... who maligned deeply held beliefs.  No matter how pretty they wrote.

I wonder if God sighs?  If so, He must have as His thoughts toward me had something to do with "she finally gets it".

Image:  From Facebook so I don't know whom to credit for the photo... for whom?... who?... I need an English Teacher app.


Sandi said...

Ravi hits nail on the head in the simplest of ways. No wise phones.

I'm sorry you had to unfollow that writer. I was on a writer's website a few years ago and followed a woman who wrote very interesting things. On that site comments would appear in a column on the left of the screen. Sometimes she said the most abrasive, hurtful things. She wasn't even talking to me, but it was painful anyway. I had to unfollow her. We have to be very careful what we say and also what we see.

I think you made the right decision. What you said about letting it into our homes was quietly profound.

Ann Stevens said...

I totally agree with you. For years I read one particular blog that I so much enjoyed ... and then along came the presidential election. Although I knew this person was of a totally different mindset than I am, there had never been any overt comments about conservatives and people of faith. Suddenly it became unbearable to read what as once a lovely place to visit. And regretfully after a couple of months of hoping it would subside I had to unfollow her blog. It was the right decision and I read very few blogs anymore and choose carefully those that I do. Like you I don't mind sharing ideas with people who don't always agree with me for, in fact, very few do; but not to the point of argument or disrespect.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I do think Google is going crazy today...I've had such trouble posting comments and I think I completely lost the first one to you, and should this be gone, I'm giving up for now. I just wanted to say how sorry I am that this writer had so disturbed your peace and ruffled your feathers and that I think you are completely right to stop reading what she has to say. Be well, dear Branda!

olderandwiser said...

I am not on social media but I know what you mean about bringing someone into your home who maligns your deeply held beliefs. It dawned on me some years ago that is what tv does. If someone came into my home and started using the words I've heard in some movies on tv, I would show them out. Also, if certain people came to my door and told me what they wanted to do in my house if I would let them in, they would not get past the front door. And yet, when we view certain things on tv and listen to certain language, it's like we've invited these people in. No difference.

Sallie Borrink said...

Do you ever watch The Rubin Report on YouTube? Since I left Facebook I had to find some new ways to get my political fix. LOL! He's an interesting guy. He was part of The Young Turks (uber lefties) and left them when he moved more toward the middle. He has people on from both the left and the right to talk about different topics. He lets people TALK which I appreciate. I don't agree with him on some things, but he produces a good show that highlights conversation and thinking.

Lori said...

Thank you. Please keep reminding us to seek peace in this social media age. I have gotten lackadaisical and in a trance-like state (perfect description!). I greatly appreciate your wisdome and reminder.

Anonymous said...

Haha...sharing ideas with those who do not agree...that is indeed rare and growing ever more rare in our society, I do believe. At least where I live. All you write here is so true, Brenda. And it is the right thing to quit reading in places that bother us...I think it can be almost an addiction to go to them, but once we realize the impact upon us, we indeed have to quit. It is a fact that writing something may be easier than saying it face-to-face. We made the choice years ago (strongly advised by my husband's place of employment as well) to avoid Facebook, Twitter and any other such place. I call it "choosing to be ignorant" indeed we are choosing to NOT know what others write...and we already know some kin have cost us greatly on Facebook. Yep, his kin cost hubby a very much nicer job that would have let him work longer as it would have been a good boss instead of a massively wicked one which was causing his health to fail. But GOD still blesses us anyway...because he had to retire early, we were able to be with our youngest of 7 grandchildren like we never got to do with the rest. But are we glad we STILL are not on FB, Twitter, etc. Oh yes, and a thousand times over!! The internet can be useful for doing research on health issues, etc and I appreciate that. Plus we were able to reconnect with some dear folk whom we lost contact with over 30 years finding his email address online no less...and so we are grateful for that. But our path will continue NOT using the potentially harmful sites. Even if only harmful to us.

Vee said...

Pushback is so important. And you do that politely. Not in their space, but here in your own.

It’s odd how such people believe themselves to be the arbiters of justice, the heart of charity, and righteous warriors all in one. Not to mention that they think of themselves as the very brightest bulbs. They have an arrogance that is infuriating. I have done similarly...just walked away quietly without slamming the door, but never to return. One can only take so much of that smug self-righteousness.

Little Penpen said...

I can totally relate to your feelings. I have unfollowed, without unfriending, a lot of people on Facebook for the same reasons. I'm not a twitterer either...I don't think my nerves could take it. I go to Instagram for my 'pretty' fix. I love the pretty photos of quilts, crafts, antiques, farms, etc that I choose to see!!💗

Lin said...

The reason I switched from facebook to Instagram was to avoid lots of wordy prose - good or bad - and just look at pretty pictures. Anyone who posts about politics is immediately unfollowed!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Perfectly stated. Wise words can always be found here! Thanks, Brenda!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I am in honest agreement with you, Brenda...and Ravi is a wise man of God, his words often resonate with me.

Anonymous said...

"But I got lackadaisical again. I read and watched in a trance-like state as I looked and clicked and swiped left for more... and wondered why I had lost my peace. This past week, I awoke from the trance. I saw how ridiculous it was to bring people into my home via social media... on purpose!... who maligned deeply held beliefs. No matter how pretty they wrote."
Beautifully put Brenda. I am on a similar page and it's extended to television and radio as well. Ironically, it reminds me of a bit I heard, long ago, from a stand up comedian. He jokingly warned people about the negative affects of television subtly affecting our thoughts and opinions. His punch line was "why do you think they call it PROGRAMMING?" I had never thought of it in that way before.

Thank you for sharing these astute and valuable put your finger onto the exact things that have long disturbed my own peace.


Unknown said...

I have chosen to do the same(and perhaps because of the same people?) in the last couple of years and I'm much happier with my social media content. I'm so glad you wrote about this. ❤

Sherry said...

and with that .. your heartfelt thoughts and decision(s) .. BINGO! i so appreciate you coming forward to share the truth of the matter. if some thing doesn't offer an element of peace, why do we frequent the thing? nodding my head in agreement to what you've shared. yep. social media is certainly a mixed bag.. and like the comment further up the board, i've extended the 'off' switch to television as a whole, save for well chosen dramas or documentaries. i simply don't want the stress .. i have enough of that on a deeply personal level. yep. applause!
{{and, i've no idea if my comment makes a lick of sense. perhaps we can both go in on an english tutor. wink.}}

lynneinMN said...

Thank you, Brenda, for once again hitting the nail on the head. The peace we so earnestly desire, gets disturbed with just one click of the "enter" button. Your comment about inviting someone into your home electronically, that you wouldn't invite in if they came to your door - right on.
I, too, have had to just "unfollow", stop reading, delete, etc... those that won't allow for a different opinion. What happened to agreeing to disagree?
Thank you for your words of wisdom...God Bless. LynneinWI

Kathy said...

Good points!
I gave up facebook during Lent, and I haven't reactivated my account. I was letting it steal my peace. Strange thing though, it was my conservative friends who were spouting the most hate, and I had always considered myself a conservative. I think there is evil on both sides of the political spectrum. Now I consider myself a Christ follower above all else.

Cheryl said...

Thank you for sharing these words of reason. Like you, I don't limit my blog reading to those with whom I agree on every single thing, but certainly when something/someone is troubling our spirit, it is time to turn away.

I also am taking note of the observation about a "wise phone" . . . or, in my case, a "wise lap top" (which I use much more than my phone). It is so easy to let ourselves get off balance.

Anonymous said...

I don't know to whom I should give the credit. That will do it Brenda. See last lines of your post for context. ;)