If you know me at all, you know I’m a big fan of author/spiritual mamma/inspirator Susie Davis. I go to her often and today I went to her as I had a 40 minute drive to take my dog to the vet. I scanned through her podcasts for one I hadn’t listened to and found what seemed like the perfect one for these times: “When You Feel Disconnected.” Don’t we all right now? I was all in and pressed play.
In the podcast, Susie interviewed fellow author/spiritual mamma/inspirator Kate Merrick and she had me at hello. Early into the podcast she noted that 41 percent of Americans say they don’t have one friend and yet…we are the most “connected” we’ve ever been. And although the podcast was recorded before the current COVID pandemic, both those statements are so very relevant today.
Think about it: how many of us have been sheltered at home either alone or among family and feeling like we don’t have a friend in the world while at the same time how many of us are connected to tons of social media “friends?”
I’d bet the house that during the past few months we have collectively been on social media or some sort of technology maybe more than ever before. I remember reading a post saying how horrific things would really be if we “ran out of” Wi-Fi. Sad but true, right? But, we’ve been bored in the house and in the house bored so we log-on and “like.” All things Netflix, Tiktok, Instagram and beyond have been our sources of entertainment and distraction. We’ve also needed the internet for work, school, and even exercise so sites like Zoom have boomed. Even my book club has Zoomed and I’ve been getting my weekly doses of much-need yoga on Zoom. Recently before doing our downward dogs and warrior twos, we chatted briefly that yes, we are all sadly addicted to our phones and technology but right now they are the only ways we stay in touch with others. Right now. But how about before Corona and after Corona?
Our 27-year-old daughter was back home with us working from home for two months before leaving this week and I remember her at one point saying she had a headache. We put our heads together and decided it was because she was looking at either her phone or her laptop pretty much nonstop. After putting a slight stop to that, the headaches disappeared. Technology rocks, but it also hurts.
Merrick is the first to get off the social media bandwagon for a number of reasons. She hates that scanning through IG accounts just isn’t healthy for her mindset in that it often left her feeling inadequate, ugly, and out-of-shape. Instead, she chooses to love what God has given her and not pine after what God has given others. Brilliant, right? But she says, we’ve become convinced that social media is the only way to connect with someone because it’s currently the most common way. As a culture, we buy what is being sold and today social media is what’s selling.
These are unique times however and they call for unique measures. Yes, it’s easy to say shy away from social media when things are “normal,” but when stuck inside for days on end it’s tough to not log on and look. If you must, Merrick suggests shunning comparison and unfollow any accounts that make you feel lame. If you feel the need to follow anyone, follow those accounts that inspire you or make you smile. Merrick also recommends “practicing presence” by living in your present moment and life situation. Again, don’t compare and instead listen to her wise words of, “I’ll love what I’m doing a lot more if I’m not aware of what everyone else is doing.” Or where they’re going to. Or what they’re buying. Or who they’re with. Live in your space and time not Facebook’s.
I gotta admit, I do enjoy a little Facebook and Instagram but I try my hardest not to compare, contrast, or compete and if your feed is only photos of you, I’m out. I agree with Merrick in that it can all sometimes make me feel dry and thirsty and wanting. Are we really connecting when we are so anonymous and so arbitrary?
We arbitrarily post the pretty in our lives and let others into the portions of our lives that we choose. They comment and we comment but there is no commitment of actual friendship required. Merrick says social media is like a cheap date: lots of affirmation with not a lot of work. Bingo.
Still, in isolated times like the present, socializing on social media is all we have. But, don’t let these faux communities let you forget your real communities: the groups of your people, or as the doctors on “Grey’s Anatomy” so famously refer to each other: “my person.” These are the persons who bring you casseroles when you’re sick, send cards and flowers for deaths and birthdays, and are your ride or dies whether laughing or crying. These are the connections we should all crave and seek once lockdown has died down.
The first place to start is to maybe check your distractions; especially those I mentioned above as being COVID sanity savers. Do you truly enjoy scrolling through post after post or is doing so simply a distraction. Own that distraction before it owns you and keep in mind that even Jesus had to get away to pray. Jesus was also present to His disciples…a group that BTW was extremely diverse…and spent time with them. As Merrick says, if we are enormously distracted we cannot hear God’s voice. Listen up and slow down.
I somewhat reluctantly realized this just today and owning it hurts my heart. Since our daughter headed back to her home, I’ve found that I’m back to my morning prayer and meditation time. I get away and I pray and read. For some reason, I didn’t do it daily the two months she was here. I was, you got it, distracted and shame on me. A daughter should witness her mom spending every morning in prayer and this mamma failed.
I bet you’ve discovered a sliver of who “your people” are during our current national emergency. I know I have. I’ve learned who has reached out, went out of their way to celebrate me on my birthday, asked if I needed any groceries, and have called or texted again and again. They are who I’ve felt connected to. Truly connected.
In the end, be picky about who and what you spend your time on. Whether we like it or not, all of our days are numbered so why not fill them with some real connections? I’m ready.