Be the Change
We arrived home from two weeks of traveling early this week and sure enough, a couple days after coming home Oshiolema started coughing. This child has travelled more than any 2.5 year old should in his little lifetime and somehow he still manages to get a cold just about every time we fly. The cold I can tackle pretty easily and know just what to pull out to care for it, but on Friday he came down with a fever I didn't see coming. He maintained a pretty high fever for the better part of two days which meant tons of down time, tons of playing in my bedroom with a baby while Oshiolema and O were sleeping on the couch...lots of scrolling. My daughter was climbing all over me, pulling herself up onto tables and ottomans, giggling at nothing and chewing on her plastic chicken drumstick. And I was scrolling. The more I scrolled the more I noticed my mood changing. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I finally figured it out. Instagram is a place so beautiful it has a way of inspiring you enough to grab your attention and keep it before quickly turning your inspiration to coveting, envy and discontent. Facebook, on the other hand, starts off sweet with comments from friends on a photo of your kid but turns ugly should you ever make the mistake of scrolling through your News Feed. Endless complaining, sharing of bad news, horrifying videos of creepy animals (aka rodents or cats or bunnies) with no warning and worst of all-mocking. I noticed a small thread being woven throughout social media that day and truly, as I woke up to type this at 1:52am and have absolutely no business being awake, it's bothering me so much that I cannot fall back asleep.
You see, if my sister tries to dye her hair pale pink and in a strange turn of events it turns sherbet orange, making her hair exactly match that of a murderer currently on television... I will probably post it. Because we are laughing together. And she knows about it, she watches me take the photo and goes to write a comment along the lines of "you are the worst. So is this hair."
If I'm in college and my friend can't be bothered to find her matching shoe but we have a very pressing craving for French fries from down the street so she wears two different shoes and pajama pants to pick up our food, I may take a photo. Because we were laughing together. And she knows about it, and watches me take the photo and goes to write a comment along the lines of "no shame. no regrets."
That laughing about it together part coupled with the watching me take the photo part topped off by the knowing this is headed to the internet where it will live for a long, long time part is crucial. Because without any one of those three things, we enter dangerous territory. We are bullying. Now, I know bullying is used far to often these days so please hear me out. I am tough, I'm not a whiny woman in general and especially don't like throwing around terms like bullying and mocking all willy-nilly. After careful consideration, though, it just can't be labeled anything else.
We as a generation- a society, really-have been conditioned somehow to feel entitled to content. We have been tricked into believing that someone else's misfortune is our opportunity for likes and laughs. Let me paint a picture for you: I have huge feet-size 12 to be exact (that's a Mens 11 for all those doing the math) and honestly, sometimes they just don't look super awesome in my shoes. There was a time I spend entire Springs and Summers year after years refusing to put sandals on because of a certain awesome big brother saying I should just wear shoe boxes instead of the shoes that came in them. I've since moved on because hey, they're pretty and clean...they're just guaranteed to be bigger than the majority of people around me. I've accepted them, they are what they are, but when I'm standing in high heel sandals I still think every single time "I hope no one stares at my feet." I can promise you the last thing I want to happen in a moment of vulnerability is for someone to pull out there phone, open their camera, zoom in, take a photo and post it so I can be mocked by people I've never met. But isn't this what a good chunk of our News Feed is made up of? Laughing at photos taken of unknowing strangers?
When I scroll down my news feed and see photos snapped of strangers that range from harmless to full on abusive it makes my stomach turn. Mostly because if I went on social media to find a photo of myself in a moment I hoped no one would see there posted by a stranger receiving comment after comment of mocking I truly don't know what I'd do. It is violating. It is haughty. It is cruel.
Next time you're on the bus or in the grocery store or in class and someone looks disheveled/has a weird toe/is talking to themselves/definitely didn't check their outfit from the back before they stepped out the door...please consider how you would feel if in your worst moment, a stranger decided they found that moment so funny, gross or ridiculous that they needed to sneak a photo and share it with their friends. Better yet, if you didn't consider it your worst moment at all, but instead you were going about your everyday life only to find someone has deemed your "normal" hilarious or disgusting. We need more people to be kind, considerate and thinking more highly of others than themselves. It is so opposite of our culture and so far from popular, but I know we can do this.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Ephesians 4:29 MSG
Obscene stories, foolish talk and coarse jokes-those are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.