I’ve been journaling a lot lately, and a couple of recent writings have coalesced into this post, as I’ve decided to deactivate my facebook account, which somehow is like a Life Decision these days? Not really that big a deal to anyone else or in the grand scheme, but it is the result of lots of thought.
So, I’m reading in the Bible’s book of Isaiah right now. Chapter 5:1-7. The people of God are the vines in his vineyard, but even though He tends to them, they produce “wild grapes” aka stinking things. Jesus is the true vine. Only those who abide in him will flourish and produce good grapes. Verse 7 of the passage I read seem particularly apt right now.
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting;
he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!”
Last week was dissonant. We were in Colorado visiting family, doing lots of fun things and enjoying each other’s company. It was wonderful. Also while we were gone – just before, we got news that a dear family had lost their daughter in the wake of surgery. Then in a matter of two days came two consecutive murders of black men by police – caught on video and unjustified. Then we as a nation woke to the news that snipers had targeted and killed Dallas police officers at an utterly peaceful Black Lives Matter march. Hatred and darkness. Paranoia setting in. I work in a mall, which seems like the worst place right now – where mass quantities of people make themselves easy prey.
Our two main presidential options are horrific examples. Donald Trump is an idiot and an unacceptable choice for any job where he’s in charge of people, let alone the most powerful job in the country. And Hillary Clinton, while obviously the better choice politically (as in, an actual politician with a history of political experience), is also corrupt just like most of us assume politicians to be. She is guilty of something a regular person would get fired for but because she is powerful, the government is going to look the other way. SO, here we are.
In the meantime, everyone lives in their own echo chamber and disdains the rest of the world. It isn’t healthy or helpful, and all it does is make us all more angry and therefore more convinced of our own opinions. It is, on all sides, completely self-righteous. I don’t care what the intent. I feel self-righteous when I click “post” and then I feel good about it when you click “like.” I find myself justifying the hatred I feel toward some of my “friends” on facebook because of how ignorant, one-sided, and closed-minded they are in their posts and comments. I’m not saying there aren’t truths and falsehoods. I’m not saying we don’t need to talk about all the shit constantly flying from the fan. But when I lose my sense of human caring…when I see people losing their humanity with one another, sometimes over minutia…it’s scary. I can’t do it anymore. I need to get my news from news sources and do my own research, form my thoughts, and pray.
I don’t share things – things I consider very important – most of the time. I listen to stories and read news and think about the issues going on in our country all the time. But when I’m getting excited about something online and about to click “share,” I take a look at the first two or three comments, and that’s enough. It stops my hand, because over and over it’s proven that no one takes what you’re trying to say, or gets your particular point of view. People don’t LISTEN. Rather, people don’t listen to listen or to understand. They listen to respond. As they’re reading or watching, they’re thinking of all the things they want to say in response, disproportionately on edge because of the controversial nature of things, always ready to provide the “nuance” or perspective they think you’re missing. Does it not occur to people that maybe the person who posted the thing is an intelligent human who has considered other perspectives and even so STILL deems their post worthy of consideration? Life is full of conversations. When we post something, it’s part of the larger conversation. I guess I understand that to be the case and so I can take what people put out there and consider it for myself – whether I accept or reject or need nuance for its point without having to go on a tirade in the comments section.
I stop before I post because I could write the opposing comments and interactions for you, without anyone having to educate me. All possible responses line themselves up in my head, and I know what people will misunderstand and blow out of proportion. It’s exhausting. I think I could have put some great content out there for consideration (others’ content, or maybe some of my own writing) but all of the self-proclaimed experts keep me quiet because I don’t want to deal with them.
For the record, most of my friends whose information usually comes up in my feed on a given day understand that yes, all lives matter, but black lives haven’t always and they deserve special attention right now. They understand that privilege, nuanced and all, EXISTS, and they understand that collective apologies are not a big deal and if you don’t see that you have some pride issues going on.
And that right there ^ is why I have to go away. I’m angry at people, and I don’t have a spirit of love for everyone. It’s hard when we’re all dehumanized because of the computers through which we’re interacting. But I feel like I need to be restored to all of humanity after encounters with debates or monologues on facebook…every day. And it’s just stupid that all of this is because of the stupidity that occurs on the internet.
I knew how bad this had gotten when my first instinct or reaction in the midst of tragedy became reading my newsfeed and its comment threads instead of getting on my knees and letting my tears go to Jesus. Praying to the one I know cares about this world infinitely more than everyone in it. I don’t pray for this world regularly, and that is the last straw. It’s time to step back and realize how far over the edge our discourse and our relationships have gotten.
Like I said, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind my throwing content out there. It’s not even worth it. You don’t help people to know Jesus by lobbing the Gospel at them at random, without the context of a relationship with meaningful, understanding conversation. So any points I might make or self-satisfaction I may feel are just for naught in the end. I’ll just get more puffed up, more angry, and less human over time.
I hope I can have civilized, deeply felt conversations – dialogues, not debates or monologues – with friends, people at work, people at church…and let God be in control. I am not going to change the world through reading or even entering the comments. That’s not how we form informed opinions. We are relational, emotional people at the end of the day. Reason is important, for sure, but we follow whatever has a grip on our hearts – fear, loathing, selfishness, pride – or humanity, compassion, courage. We learn and grow with the people around us, and by learning more about the one who created us and his vision for the world to be a place where we love even our worst enemies. I’m leaving because I’m angry, sad, and I feel hopeless. I need to go first to the place where hope is offered. The passage from Isaiah is so appropriate. But we are also reminded of the finished work of Jesus we wait for – eagerly and patiently.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Yes, this life is hard. Yes. And yes, this world is being and will be redeemed! Take heart. Have courage.
Maybe this departure is a temporary thing. Maybe I’ll be back later, after the election, after things are a little more calm (?). Maybe I’ll just wait until I have the energy to just spread positivity. Or maybe I’ll pop in now & then because it’s really a good communication tool. In the meantime, if you want to stay in touch or need to get in touch, here is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And here’s my phone number: 254-338-3818. I’ll leave this post up for a little while before deactivating.
“The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy.” – John Green