That was the statement my 8 year old made as I was adding the latest adorable picture of our newborn, Amelia. (The picture is adorable because Amelia is.) With the push of a button the picture was sent out to instagram, facebook, AND twitter. In an instant I’ve updated almost 2000 of my friends and followers of one of the many sharable moments and thoughts of my life. Ella smiled and skipped off as I completed the transaction. This is a normal occurrence in my world and probably yours.
After a few brief moments Ella picked up my phone to check the status and found that I already had 34 likes on Instagram. She was super excited at the outcome and how quick people responded positively to our picture. She climbed back on the trampoline and informed that she would check it again in a few minutes and that we would probably have even more. A small part of me was wondering how many more responses I would actually get (it wasn’t the first time…and you’ve felt it too.)
But something else shifted as she was smiling while waving my phone celebrating the social “Likes.”
I DON’T WANT MY DAUGHTERS’ CONFIDENCE, SECURITY, AND IDENTITY TIED TO A PHONE
More specifically the social apps on the phone. If we are not careful, our very identity, security, and confidence can unknowingly become tied to how many people “LIKE” our content on the web (even this post.) The thing about that…is this… we ARE NOT your social content. We cannot be fully defined, experienced or communicated in a 160 characters, a quick filtered picture or video, or a blog (Even though Apple, Google, and Android try to tell us we are.) It takes time, experiences, conversations, and relationships.
Every culture has a language. Once, it was spoken, then it was written, along came photography, followed by video, and today it is digital. Digital’s impact is greater and felt more quickly for both society and the individual than in the past (the term used is viral.)
Case in point: here is the latest viral Vine Video of a Texas teen who catches his own 40 yard pass (LINK). In the midst of the interview you can hear a bit of how the event has briefly shaped his and others perception of who he is…based on a 15 second video clip. For him it was a positive experience, but what about for those that it’s a negative experience.
Am I against Social Media…heck no! I’m a proponent and think it is a great way to connect, inspire, and promote. I actually use it daily to do all three. But if that is all the “socializing” that we experience, then our identity and confidence will be greatly deformed.
I challenge you to allow Social media to COMMUNICATE who you are…not CREATE who you are. Because you have already been created. Everything that you need, you have been given and is on the inside of you.
To do that you have to protect your heart.
I heard a pastor say once, that in order to protect our hearts from pride and discouragement, we have to treat compliments and criticism like chewing gum. Take it in, chew on it for a bit…and then spit it out. Don’t swallow it because it will stick with you and take too long to get out of your system. TRUTH!
Our children’s lives will be more tightly connected to Social Media in ways you and I can never understand. It was here before they were. We will have to work doubly hard to guide them through and protect them from the pitfalls. If we don’t then it will shape them into who they were never meant to be.
So…back to my moment. Before Ella had the chance to check my status again, I called her over and took away my phone. I had a conversation similar to what you’ve just read except for an 8 year old.
I encouraged her that the opinions of those that should mater the most are those who know her the best!
That’s not just for an 8 year old…that’s for a 35 year old. So put down your phone (go dark) for a while and be yourself!
I’d love to hear your thoughts!