Living on a mountain for six months can teach you some things. Namely the fact that much of what folks do in “the real world” is just superficial silliness designed to make their lives seem better than they are. That sounds like the beginning of something preachy, doesn’t it? Well, I hope this doesn’t come across as such.
We grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of the Beltway, right in the seat of the country’s money and power. This area always has something new and flashy, and since my high school days the expansion of government has only brought more wealth and change to the area.
I actually never noticed how nice people dress here until I moved to Florida. I really didn’t notice it until I came back from out west.
Probably the most noticeable place where this clothing shows up is in church. People around here seem to dress up everywhere, but church is especially primped and proper. When we walk in with our rag tag bunch of hoodlums we feel like the conspicuous ones, despite the fact that we are actually quite drab.
All of this to say I don’t understand why women (and men for that matter) spend hours of their lives every day (especially Sundays) primping and decorating themselves. Do they do this to impress God? God’s not impressed with these displays. Do they do it strictly for themselves? Maybe. I honestly think they do it to impress others and draw attention to themselves, even (and especially) at church.
We are all narcissistic at heart. Every one of us wants our ego stroked. We will go to great lengths to entice a compliment out of someone. It’s not just in our physical worlds that we seek to feed this engorged ego, social media provides an excellent platform to do this. Not only can we enlarge our own status online, we can crush others mercilessly and hide behind anonymity at the keyboard.
Why do you think I blog? Yes, I do want to spread ideas and make people think. Yeah, I want a place to fully explore and write out my thoughts and maybe solicit ideas from others. But mostly, I just want stats. I want to know people agree with me and read what I write with regularity.
I doubt I am that alone in checking my Facebook notifications every ten minutes to see what new “likes” are on my posts (not many). It is actually somewhat shameful really. Sometimes I feel like a drug addict just trying to get my fix.
I try my hardest not to tear others down to build my own social media reputation. I can’t say the same about many of the Christians I see on Facebook. Much of what passes for “help” or “advice” on the pages I am in are really just veiled statements of judgement. If you feel differently from the majority you are quickly called “unwise” or worse, a heretic. If you actually agree with some of the points made by unnaproved people you are shamed into keeping silent by the mocking heaped on them by their enemies.
There seems to be no one one attacking ideas in the narcissistic mess called social media. There is only mocking people and reducing them to memes and caricatures. All feminists are evil. All homosexuals are crazed lunatics. All BLM folks are jerks. Everything they stand for is evil. Therefore we can mock them and belittle them as people.
This is hardly a Christ-like way of handling people. Christ did not mock every single sinner He dealt with. When He did mock it was often with pointed questions, not personal attacks. This is not to say we are ever wrong for calling people a brood of vipers when necessary, but more often than not our usage of strong words is intended to boost our own image, not to improve the lives and hearts of others.
We ought to be neighbors to sinners, on and off the Internet. This requires us to put away pride and anonymity and act like non-narcissistic adults. Calling people names you would never call them to their face or mocking their appearance is not just cruel, it’s childish. Calling people heretics over non-essentials just makes you look like a Pharisee.
I may be beating a dead horse with this, but can we start debating ideas instead of superficial things like how someone looks or what “abnormal” things they may enjoy in their spare time? I dare say the Internet would be a much more productive place.