Oh my goodness the little voices just wouldn’t stop. Like snotty toddlers desperate for a pee, their incessant pestering started to detract from my wonderful holiday. Whether I was hiking through the spruce and hemlocks of Vancouver’s temperate rainforests, marveling at the majestic dorsal fins of killer whales who graced us by surfacing yards from our boat or sipping champagne at sunset to celebrate family birthdays, I could feel the pressure to cave in at every turn.
I’m talking about the internal mind-talk pestering me and pressuring me to get back on the social media train. The voices wooed me with tempting promises; that the social media train is a wonderful, magical place where my life looks fun and flawless, where people love to affirm this flawless life and even affirm my very existence. They promised to connect me with thousands of people who want to be a part of build the “platform” of followers that I’ve been assured will make or break the success of the book I’ve promised to write.
The Social Media Train, or SMT as I’ve become fond of calling it, is disarmingly easy to get on even for someone who’s a technical luddite like myself. Unlike my children, who I managed to birth ready programmed with an encyclopedic knowledge of TV remote instructions and the entire apple user guide in their otherwise vacuous brains, I am rather technically challenged. Despite this, a few years ago I allowed my-self to just take a look and peek into the Facebook carriage of the SMT. “Just to see what all the fuss is about”.Not only did it look fun and enticingly easy, it was the perfect way to stay in touch with my friends and family around the world.
As soon as I took my first tentative step off the platform I was immediately sucked into a vacuum of time and space that seemed so at the time. From the Facebook carriage I quickly hopped down the train through Instagram, Twitter and Pintrest and over the last year I’ve learned to post, share, tweet and pin. I even Vimeo’d once in a flurry of enthusiasm but it wasn’t a great success. But then it all started to get a bit overwhelming as I realize that I can hear these little voices constantly pressuring me. I’m also not terribly good at it and I’ve noticed that it can take me away from other things I’d rather be doing so I don’t always enjoy it. What’s rather frightening is I can see a few carriages ahead down the train. Where people are telling me that I should be YikYak-ing or OoVoo-ing* if I really want to be someone. I’m not sure I even know what YikYak-ing or OoVoo-ing are and, quite frankly, they sound quite uncomfortable, especially if I’m expected to do them in public.
So while I was on holiday I jumped to freedom and leapt off the train.
I didn’t tweet, post or pin. Share, like or poke – anything or anyone. And I certainly didn’t try and YikYak.
On the one hand it felt SO good. So freeing, liberating and cleansing. No body to please. Nobody to compare myself to. No constant pressure to be visible. But the voices didn’t stop. They just changed the song they sang to my low self-esteem. If I believed those retched lies all my fears would come true.
“Your friends will forget you and move onto newer, more exciting and popular people.”
“Your “platform” will crumble with neglect and so will the chances of your blog or the book being a success.”
“Can’t you see that bloggers, speakers and writers that you aspire to can balance their rambunctious families, writing best seller books, being all over social media like a rash and quoting inspiring scripture on a daily basis while never having a bad hair day. While you, on the other hand, can’t balance your check book on a regular basis let alone your complicated life.”
The voices tempted me to ride the train again by chanting the words of Robert Madu
Facebook, Facebook, tell me how my life should look.
Instagram, Instagram, tell me who I really am.
Whether it was self-discipline or the overwhelming call of the wild, I’m not sure, but while I was away I didn’t cave in. I stayed off the train.
But the summer is over, the kids are back in school, there’s Halloween candy in the shops and I’m pretty sure I even saw Christmas lights on a neighbors tree. As I look back over the summer I realize that by taking a break from the SMT I’ve learned something about myself. I’ve discovered that as fickle and self absorb as it is, I had started to believe those lies. I had begun to search for my self-worth and identity in the number of likes or followers I had, or had not, achieved and there is something deeply disturbing in that.
Unfortunately, life off the train isn’t that realistic in 2015 and actually isn’t where I want to live forever so I’ve decided to hop aboard again. Even though I’m getting back on the train to hang out with you all I’m doing so differently this time with a new ticket. Now my eyes are wide open and my ticket is stamped with truths that will never erode my self-esteem.
My ticket is stamped …
God will never leave you or forsake you.
You are a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made.
Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart.
Your worth comes from God and not from anyone else on or off the train.
If God wants this book written he’ll find away – “platform” or no “platform”.
I love you all but my ticket is stamped “Child of God” and I’ve decided not to look to you for my self-worth. Perhaps you can do the same. In any case, I’d prefer to sit face to face with you over a cup of tea than poking you or pinning you in cyberspace.
*I’m not kidding, these really are new social media trends – ask your kids or Google them