The other night I made an off-handed comment to my brother that I had to upload my pictures to facebook "because otherwise what's the point of taking them?" I wasn't completely serious, but in one of those awful moments of instant self-realization, I knew that I wasn't completely kidding either. My brother made a face at me- probably the same face I was making at myself. (Maybe something like this:)
Now, I mostly upload pictures of my kids- and I immensely enjoy those pictures just for me. And one day I swear I will scrapbook everything, stop pressuring me!! But at the end of the day, part of why I honestly upload pictures is because I want YOU to see- I want someone else to witness my day- my life- I want someone else to think my kids are adorable, or that I'm a fun mom, or to think that my husband and I always have epic date nights. (Of course they aren't always- but I don't post pictures of me annoying Jeff by crunching ALL the unpopped popcorn kernels while we watch "New Girl".)
It makes me think of that philosophical saying, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Except we just cut and paste a little and end up with "If I take a picture of a day with my kids, and it never makes it to facebook, did it really happen/matter?"
OK, it really isn't the same...and of course what I do with my kids or family each day matters. But there is something deeper to it all. Why DO I feel so strongly about putting my pictures on facebook? Why do I pre-meditate bringing a camera to things so I'll get good facebook pictures? Why do I sift through my picture and tend to only put up the ones that put me/ my family in a decently positive light? Why do I care which people "like" my pictures, or how many people comment?
I think some of it is the normal human desire to have someone else witness our lives and to show off the things that we are proud of, whether kids or a perfectly made blueberry crisp. It's like a quote from the movie "Shall We Dance":
"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'." (IMDB)
Even though the quote is about marriage, it rings true for our facebook relationships- we now have the opportunity to virtually share our lives and witness other's with a few simple clicks. And in some ways it is a beautiful thing- to share the little and big aspect of life with others-especially to be able to witness the daily lives of family and friends who live far away.
But in other ways it is simply a trap- something to give us a false feeling of significance. Because in some ways I am saying that WHAT I do is not so much important as who SEES what I do, or how what I do compares with what you do. But truthfully, you are not a valid judge of the meaning of my day- even I am not capable of judging my own significance or merits based on my performance, or any snapshot of my day. And Galations reminds me that it chasing after human approval is only a hindrance to following Christ.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
But I still long to be known- I still long to have someone witness my life and for it to matter deeply. And I believe that the One who made me- the one who loves us regardless of what we do, is there to witness each and every moment of my life. (And He does it without ever signing up for facebook.) Only in Him do I find my purpose- and I am blown away by how much he cares about the details of my life. I pray that more and more I seek to please Him and let what others think of me fall away.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.