By Caitlin Mae
- Double Tap and Comment, 10 reps, 3 sets
- Tag and Like, 5 reps, 3 sets
- Snap and Chat, 16 reps, 2 sets
- Scroll, max reps to failure
This is my right thumb’s morning workout routine. It gets repeated in the evening, and if I’m feeling extra frisky, at lunchtime, with a few pick-ups to get the blood flowing throughout the day. If you’re reading this and aged 12-45, I’d be willing to bet that your right (or left) thumb undergoes similar training.
I’m not ashamed of my love affair with social media. As someone who has lived in three states in less than three years, I’m grateful to live in a world that’s more interconnected than ever before. Social media—in all its beautiful, varied platforms—continues to inspire us and change the world as we understand it. Some of my favorite moments from 2016 have only been possible because I’m on social media! I’ve met incredible people and participated in life-changing conversations, all because of a “follow” or “like.” So please hear me when I say: I love social media. That’s the truth.
It’s also true that social media, like any love affair, has brought me both excitement and sadness. It’s the latter that I’m speaking to now.
We’ve all played the “compare and despair” game when it comes to being online. We can be truly happy to see our friend’s Pinterest-worthy vacation selfie, while also feeling that messy undercurrent of jealousy as we sit at our cubicle. We can double-tap the heck out of another friend’s gorgeous engagement shot, while still hearing that small, cruel voice whisper in our ear, “You will never have that.” We can scroll through dozens of lovely squares, being incredibly inspired while at the same time feeling buried under a mountain called “Not Good Enough.” It’s not okay to feel this way, but it is human.
So why, when we’re faced with these feelings of insecurity or envy, do we brush them away? It’s as if by ignoring them, we think they’ll lessen or disappear altogether.
The reality is: social media isn’t reality, but it deeply influences our real lives.
Somehow, in the midst of uploading and sharing and Boomerang-ing, we’ve lost ourselves in the fantasy of this alternate world: one where every outfit is unwrinkled AND effortlessly cool; every meal is full of bright, complementary colors AND under 500 calories; every date is on a rooftop, simultaneously overlooking the bluest ocean AND a field of pale pink roses; and where every moment is delightfully candid yet perfectly poised.
That world is lovely. It shows us the very best of what we, as humans and children of God, are capable of: love, joy, beauty, and adventure.
That world is also one, giant lie.
Life is not a picturesque square. Life is a messy, shapeless, chaotic explosion of trial and error, full of moments and feelings that could never be confined to a square or feed, no matter how many likes it got.
So how do we press pause? How do we remember to live our best, unfiltered life?
For me, it’s taking time to do what I call “Insta-Cleanses.”
At least once a month, sometimes more, I’ll delete all of my social media apps from my phone. My accounts are still active; I essentially take a vacation from the internet. Without my mobile apps, suddenly I’m free to NOT indulge in those addictive routines. Then, for a week or more, I’ll just chase joyful moments, uninhibited and free from the distractions of that lovely, well-intentioned but misrepresented “other” world.
Joyful moments that I can experience without comparison; beloved moments that I don’t share with anyone but the people with me right then and there. Exquisite moments that I truly believe God uses to create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 NIV.)
Insta-Cleanses aren’t easy. I’ve had to build up a tolerance ever since I started them a few years ago. Insta-Cleanses come with an intense side-effect of FOMO and the sometimes startling realization that you’ve been so busy sharing your life, you’ve forgotten to actually live it.
More than anything, be ready for the biggest side-effect of all—a God that is waiting to have your renewed focus, so He can show you something incredible about yourself, something that your friends may “like,” but that He loves.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19
So today, I dare you to step back and press pause. Live an unfiltered life for 24-hours, four days, two weeks….however long you need to check in with yourself and reaffirm just how beloved YOU are in His presence. Set new goals, conquer a fear, or simply BE for a while without being tempted to compare your exquisite, intricate journey with your friends’. He’s certainly not.
After all, God always follows back.
Caitlin Mae is an amateur adventure curator, currently residing in Nashville, TN, where she’s navigating her 20’s with a broken compass. She spends her days exploring her own heart and searching for the gold in others’, with the help of chai lattes and Jesus. She’s currently working on her own little corner of the internet, www.leftofmae.com.