"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

07 January 2016

Epiphany Cleansing

Okay, I'm a chronic over thinker, so those of you who have better things to do with your next ten minutes, please move on. Because this is going to have you realizing just how weird and exhausting my mind really is.
And no, this is not at all about any kind of dietary cleanse. Because few things in this world could motivate me to drink all my fruits and vegetables for days on end. I like the flavor and the crunchy in my food, thank you.

The ideal of simplicity is a Trendy Thing right now in terms of material ownership. But lately, I've been increasingly convinced that for me, more than stuff, it's superficial relationships that clutter up my life and my thoughts. Social media makes this even more challenging. I've never been the sort of person who does well with having hundreds of acquaintances. Being an incredibly relational person, it was actually draining to my soul to feel this inner propensity to maintain relationships with all these 1200+ people, most of whom I hadn't heard from in years. And because nostalgia and sentimentality often gets the better of me, I had accepted and kept them on my list.

This is why, several years ago, I took the plunge and nearly halved my Friends List. Having lived the sort of lifestyle where people were always coming and going, including myself, I've met thousands and thousands of people. Add to that my husband's family, friends, and acquaintances, some of whom I've never met or who are rarely, if ever, in touch, and it's a little overwhelming. But knowing or knowing of all these people that doesn't mean they're all my friends, nor does it mean I have to maintain this superficial relationship with them. 

Now I know this isn't applicable to everybody. I mean, a lot of people just post their stuff, wait for their friends and followers to put their seal of enthusiasm on it with that little blue "Like" button, and they move on to the next thing. I know a whole lot of people who rarely engage with anybody on social media and who just kind of lurk around when the feeling strikes.

The thing is, I have to be on social media for two of my jobs. And I have such a love/hate relationship with it. I love how it keeps me connected with some truly beautiful people from my past lives. But I also sincerely feel like I've witnessed some of the ugliest interactions between people on there and seen such horrific and ignorant things posted -- even by people I know.

And I sit here wondering, is this even how we were meant to live? Witnessing these little glimpses into all these people's lives without really knowing most of them?

And what of those people who you knew over a decade, two decades ago? I mean, let's face it. Most of us think that our high school friends will be our bosom buddies for life. But honestly, I can count on one hand the friends who have stayed real friends over the years, and that's including a few that I wasn't even very close to back then. And yet, my Friends List is full of hundreds of those schoolmates, simply for the shared experience of four (or less than) years of adolescence.

What's even more awkward is that you gear yourself up every year for the uncomfortable task of managing your list (deciding that if I haven't had any sort of personal interaction with a certain person over the past few years, it's time to remove them), finally accomplish the task, get over the inevitable resulting feelings of guilt and then, in the course of the following year, those same people you deleted send you friend requests.

I don't even know what to do with that. Why are we going to continue being "friends" just so we can continue ignoring each other?

It's even weirder than people who I've never met in real life requesting to be my friend.

Now, I know that you can categorize your list, and I've done that. I have nice, neat little categories ranging from close friends and family to people who are just acquaintances. Because I don't want the entire world, their mothers, and their BFF's BF knowing about my life and thoughts. But even with those settings, it wears me out. With each post, I have to consider which categories of friends I'm going to share it with. Not to mention I feel like I have some sort of obligation to "like" photos of people's kids and pets, even though I've never met them (the kids and pets) and I never talk to those people anymore. And then there are those people you see from time to time in real life, so it would be really weird to remove them from your list, but at the same time, they're kind of a bummer to your soul.

Yes, I know. Boundaries. I need to learn some.

But seriously?

Life was a lot easier before social media's definition of "Friend" took over. Can't we please call it a "Contacts" list?

Am I alone here? Am I the only one who thinks that "Friend" sound signify something other than just being linked through the webosphere?

Okay. I'm done now. Back to packing up Christmas.

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