A young author shared his blog post with me the other day. I enjoyed it so much, thought it well written and insightful, that I requested permission to repost it here. Turns out this is the authors first blog post! I attached the link to THE HAVIS POST below, in blue under the title. Please join me in encouraging this author to write more! Enjoy! lh
Praise Me: A False Reality
FEBRUARY 2, 2019 / THE HAVIS POST
I am no Hemingway or Dickens, so if you have expectations of grand symbolism and imagery then I suggest you stop reading here. I am an ordinary man living an ordinary life who speaks plainly and directly to the things that I witness in the world around me, so read at your own risk.
It is not often that my mind is so consumed with an issue that I lose sleep. However, this has been the case for about a month now as I have wrestled with the reality that has arisen in our society. The reality that many, if not most, of us, are in the exhaustive effort of self-promotion to the point that we are missing out on life itself.
As a broad summation, we see that our society is more stressed and less satisfied than any other generation on record. I am not saying that life is not in many ways improved, advances in medical practices, technology, etc… prove that in many ways we are living longer, more efficient lives. So why is it that suicide and life dissatisfaction rates continue to increase year after year?
I believe that it originates from a single mantra, “Praise me”.
Trust me, I understand how easy it is for people to become “Insta famous” overnight by bombarding our timelines with countless pictures of them constantly traveling the world, eating in the greatest restaurants, posing on the beach in a skimpy bikini that leaves little to the imagination, living lives that rival the highest paid celebrities. So we try to live like them, act as they act, post what they post about, we try to become famous for doing nothing in this world other than providing mind-numbing visual stimulation. And most of us ultimately becoming discouraged when we obtain as many likes as we have family members.
Huge caveat here, there are many people who use social media to change the world by raising awareness of social injustices and encouraging us to work towards kindness and equality for all.
I don’t think that it is any coincidence that as society encourages us all to become increasingly egocentric we see a decline in church attendance and religious expression among those of the younger generations. The idolization of ourselves directly conflicts with the religious teachings that many of us have grown up learning. As a Christian, I am devastated to see the hypocrisy of so many within the global Church. I must admit, I have committed my fair share of such atrocities. I have fallen prey to the lies that tell me to seek the praises of men and women, that if I have (insert a number here) followers, then I will be happy because that means people like me. That it is ok to continue to be sinful in one area of my life or another because it’s, “not THAT big a deal”.
It is in these moments that I am reminded of a passage in John.
“He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:30-31)
It is this that reminds me to seek approval where it matters most, from the one who bore the cross and died in my place for my sins. The one whom I desire to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21). I am painfully, yet pleasantly, humbled by a loving Father to remember that one day I will not be on this earth. One day I will ditch this deteriorating body and reside with the living God forever and ever.
But I am not there yet so I ask you as I have asked myself, “What does this mean here and now? How do I obtain a tiny glimpse of the peace and joy that is promised in Romans 15:13?”
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
The answer is arduous yet simple, hang up and hang out. When we disconnect from the screen and plug into the lives of those around us and those closest to us we can learn a few important lessons.
1. Most people’s lives are not nearly as interesting as they are portrayed on social media.
Online we are privileged to know or infer only what that person wants us to see. We are forced in many ways to view their lives through rose-colored lenses, where we cannot see what is going on behind the scenes. We scroll down our timeline and see the picture of them on some beach with a caption in the present tense yet that picture was taken last summer. Since we don’t have any real interactions with that person we are lead to believe that their life only consists of traveling to exotic destinations and spending all of one day a year at work. No wonder why so many of us are so jealously depressed that our days look completely anticlimactic in comparison.
2. It is better to have real connections with real people than to have millions of followers who will unfollow you the moment you become uninteresting.
Human connection is not made on a screen but in face to face interaction.
There is no substitute for the real thing. Having people physically around you with whom you can confide and relate cannot be replaced by words, likes, or retweets on a screen. When we navigate and traverse life with people, we build bonds that satisfy and heal the soul which in turn allows us to love others better. We concern ourselves with posting new content to build our following, yet we disregard the people in our community.
How many of us can recite Twitter handles and Instagram usernames while simultaneously being unable to recall the names of the people living down the street?
How many of us are so hypnotized by our wireless lives that we overlook the person eating alone every day at work?
Have we traded being greatly known by a few in order to be greatly irrelevant to many?
3. Loving others means buying a pair of mud boots and a whole lot of Febreze.
Life is seldom utopian, often is it messy and filled with the putrid smell of failure, hurt, and inadequacy. Because we live in a fallen, sinful world it is imperative that we have people around us who will speak the truth of God into our lives while kneeling in the muck with us. As we join together to bear one another’s burdens we are able to stay afloat on God’s promises much easier than if we were to tread the waves of life alone.
Confession: I am not a social media influencer but I’m just as guilty of wanting fame and fortune! I tell myself that because I want notoriety for my accomplishments in life, my desire for stardom is justified and righteous. But let’s be honest…it’s really not different at all. I still seek recognition and the praises of humans when I should be craving the acknowledgment of a loving, merciful Father. Each day as I interact with social media platforms I constantly have to ask myself if what I am posting is to gratify my inner desires of popularity or is it to glorify my Father in Heaven.
Whether you are a Christian or not I hope that you are encouraged to audit your life, see where you can disengage from the online world and begin to invest in your communities, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Be selfless in your time and effort to those around you. Meaningful life looks like putting the needs of others ahead of yours so that we can be a bright light in the darkness. When we do this we can positively impact the world one person at a time. I hope that if you are not a believer in Jesus that you reach out to someone who is or visit a church near you to hear about the One who loves you and pursues you each and every day.
– Arthur Havis