People Before Pixels

I strive to lead a quiet life. I've set a few more guidelines that I don't always follow. I continually struggle with spending too much time looking at a screen - be it computer or phone. When I have a few minutes on my hands, I instinctively reach out to the social media world. Sometimes I fear I have as little control over my impulses as Pavlov's dog.  All my best intentions are no match for the lure of tweets and status updates. The more I wrestle, the harder it becomes to turn away. This knowledge of my sin - this coming face to face with its ugliness - is making the idea of living my life as a public display less appealing.

Even the wrestling is part of my sanctification.

I'm seeing that the time I've devoted to social media has impacted my life in ways I hadn't recognized before. I've been nicked by this double-edged sword.

My online friendships have been a source of exhortation and blessing, yet my attention to them has contributed to my aloofness with 3-D friends and made me feel justified in the scant attention I give those relationships. During a period when I felt like an outsider in nearly every area of my life, the Lord provided a refuge for me with a wonderful group of online friends, many of whom I've had the opportunity to meet. I've hidden in these friendships because the prospect of building relationships in our new church and the energy that requires intimidates me.  Still, I know the Lord calls me to do this, no matter how difficult it may be for me. I need to limit my online interaction to ensure that I have the emotional energy to invest in these new friendships.

Likewise, I've given entirely too much time and credence to celebrity pastors & bloggers. Doing so has fed my discontented spirit and caused me to set nearly impossible standards. I don't want to compare my faithful and godly pastor to anyone else because he is the shepherd God has appointed for my family. It is foolish for me to prize another's teaching/preaching over his. I sometimes listen to a particular pastor's podcasts, but I seldom read big name individual or group blogs.

I've noticed that when I am disciplined to spend more time in the Word and in books, my interest in social media wanes. My thought processes are more complete. I don't make unfair comparisons. I have more time and energy than I realized. I pay more attention to my family. I'm not missing out on the things right in front of me because I'm too afraid of missing something in my Twitter feed.

Even though I'm aware of these benefits, I still feel the pull of the pixels. Sometimes I am nearly consumed by it: the who-said-what and who-responded-how, the curiosity of what others are doing and reading, the need to know an inordinate amount of information that has no true value in my daily life.

As I continue to ponder a quiet life, I can't help but think of Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?

Surely there is a need to follow this instruction in my online presence; however, the greater need is in my very three-dimensional life. My priority should be to practice justice, kindness and humility with those flesh and blood bodies I see and touch throughout the course of my day. This requires a shifting perspective and a sharper focus.

I text and email friends, far and near. These forms of communication are quite useful and convenient. I won't give them up, and I doubt I ever quit social media. Pixels are entertaining, informative, and even edifying, but they are not more valuable than people.

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