What a beautiful day for a fresh start ...

I am (again) challenging myself to pull back from social media. 

How many times can I make a fresh start? As many times as it takes! And rather than feel like a fool for even trying (or declaring it openly), I am going to take another stab at this goal.

I want more peace, less agitation, and less submission to the manipulation of social media. I was talking with someone just the other day about how social media makes us feel much of the time. And it's not good.

I initially loved Facebook because of the opportunity for connection with people I love and don't get to see often enough. I kept loving it for the good and just taking in stride the bad parts for a long time. After this past year or so, I find that social media is presenting more and more opportunity for connection to be undermined rather than sustained. I no longer feel more connected to the people I love through Facebook. I feel less connected and more divided. Which makes me sad. Logging on is often a reminder of what has been lost. I wish I knew less of people's opinions and had shared less of mine.

One of the most intense forms of loneliness comes from realizing you do not share the views of some of the people you love most. Although you do share values, you may have very conflicting opinions about what demonstrates those values. And yet no matter how alone you may feel in your friend group, your physical community, or even your family, your convictions are still your convictions. 

I am not someone who can abandon my convictions in order to blend in and find acceptance. I know the people who truly love me don't expect that of me. They just think I'm wrong. (Insert laughter here.) But I've grown weary of controversy and knowing the opinions of nearly every person in my feed. I have no doubt the same is true in reverse. The only people who appreciate my perspective are those who tend to share my world view. Those who don't merely tolerate me (on social media). I get it. I'm okay with it. But every time you notice who doesn't engage with you anymore, there is a sadness. A reminder of something lost. It doesn't always matter the magnitude of the loss. It can be minor loss. It's still loss on top of all the other losses of 2020.

Years ago, my former pastor frequently asked the congregation to imagine how it would feel if, when we walked into church, all our thoughts and feelings were being projected onto the big screen for everyone else to read. It would be horrifying. You don't even want to imagine it. And yet, over this past year, we've come pretty close to seeing more thoughts and opinions from everyone around us than we probably needed to or wanted to. It has separated many a friend. And I've had people share with me that the past year has even splintered their families. With social media, we are constantly on information overload.

I never thought I'd say or even think this (because I am such a natural born communicator), but maybe fewer conversations would have been WAY better. I don't know. In my case, I believe so. And although I wish I could correct some of my own past mistakes and blunders, I wouldn't want to live this past year over again even if I could. (Insert more laughter here.) And then, conversely, there's the reality that life is all about making mistakes because that's how we learn to be better. 

Today is a beautiful day in West Virginia. The sun is shining. The temperature is ideal. We are in the infancy of spring in the mountains. It's one of my favorite times of year because even though we take forever to have consistently warm days and full trees at our elevation, this time of year holds the anticipation of ALL the months to come that are NOT WINTER. 

I had the opportunity to go walking this morning with a friend. And being outside was glorious. When I made the walking date, I didn't even know how much I needed it. When the walk was over, I was reminded of what I need more of and what I need less of. Unlike being on social media, I felt so good just being outside with my friend. 

It's important to be able to respectfully disagree with people and discuss our views. It's an important part of personal growth to learn how to listen and consider other people's opinions. But it doesn't warm our souls the way just "being" with a kindred spirit does. Friendship flows more easily when there is less disagreement. And, let's be honest, who doesn't value "easy" and "effortless" connection in the midst of so much division and chaos? I only have one child, but I'd imagine it's kind of like having a difficult child and an easy child. You love them equally. But "easy" is nice. It's restful. It's relaxing. It's gratifying. It's peaceful. In a friend, it's also uplifting and therapeutic, invigorating and soothing. I experienced ALL of that on my walk this morning.

I feel refreshed and almost euphoric after just spending an hour enjoying a friend, without having to navigate a single difference of opinion. I want more of this and less of the stuff that drains me. So I'm going to keep trying to make better choices, even if I sometimes fail.

And now comes the awkward choice of whether or not to share a link to this on my Facebook page. But of course I will. (Again, insert laughter here.)