Friday, April 6, 2018

Online Inauthenticity and Temptations

This past week, I got the chance to research and write about the internet's patron saint, St. Isidore of Seville, for EpicPew. Why? Why not?! As someone who has a serious love-hate relationship with several online things (especially social media), I thought it would be good to learn a little more about who the patron was and why he was the patron saint. I won't reiterate what I wrote but you can definitely check it out here.

One thing that has really struck me lately is the lack of authenticity and how caught up in it we are without really realizing it. I'm not immune to it. I try to be as real and open as possible on this blog but that doesn't mean I don't also go with the - let's say - more flattering pictures posted on social media. Am I really that vain or is it just a fear of the judgment? I'd say it's fear of judgment but perhaps it's both... and it's made me uncomfortable either way.

I usually don't take selfies very often. The picture I had on Twitter before I changed it this week was nearly 3 years old and the new one was taken when I cut my hair two days ago. Still, it felt inauthentic to me. I tried to counteract that with a series of videos (to friends) on the topic on social media in which I wore no makeup and hadn't brushed my hair. I promise I didn't look like a complete mess but I felt a bit better. I normally don't wear makeup and I have my hair up and away from my face.

That incident made me think about how I'm getting increasingly uncomfortable online. Sure, it's been a sort-of lifeline for me since it's what I use to communicate with friends these days. We're all so hyper-connected that, if it's not said on social media, it probably won't be said at all.

I'm a social introvert; I need socializing as much as I need my own solo time to recharge my batteries. With my friends having moved away from L.A. and/or living across the globe (my best friend lives in Italy), it's hard to try to get everyone together, face-to-face. I went 8 months without seeing a single one of my friends, remember? Without the use of social media, I would have a lonelier existence... but I still hate it.

I hate that we rely on social media so much. I hate that it's increasingly difficult to get together with friends -- even those who live within reasonable driving distance. I hate that I hate the online world because it usually affects me much more than I'd like to admit.

I'm an HSP; I absorb people's feelings and moods very easily. Not only that, the feelings will linger for hours or even through the end of the day. The smallest amount of negativity will ruin my day. What's the internet and social media famous for? The infighting, even amongst us Catholics. It makes it hard for me to shake off the bummer mood. Why do you think I read and write so much? It provides distractions and keeps my mind busy when I've had enough of the internet.

I may (thankfully!) not have the temptation to look at pornography, to seek out fights, to troll people, to do anything damaging... but the temptation to live my life online and to fall into the trap of only sharing the "best" side of myself is still a temptation I struggle with.

A couple of months ago (side note: this post has been in the drafts box since the second week of January) I read an open letter to Benedictine oblates on the internet and social media (which is worth a read!) and I saw this prayer that I've personally written out for myself to use because, let's face, we all face temptations every time we get online.

"O God, who hast taught us to make use of the things of this life as if we used them not (1 Cor 7), grant me wisdom and discernment in my use of the tools of knowledge and communication, for the form of this world is passing away (ibid.). Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth (Ps 140); preserve thou my mind from aimless curiosity; turn away my eyes from beholding vanity, and pierce thou my flesh with thy fear (Ps 118). Chasten thou all my discourse, lest any word of mine bring harm to me or to my neighbour. Make my heart like unto a fortified city, that filled with thy loving mercy, I may praise thee with pure lips: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come (Apoc 4), who in perfect Trinity livest and reignest, throughout all ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Mary, Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Ye holy Angels, save us from spiritual harm.
Holy Abbot Benedict, teach us silence.
Holy Doctor Isidore, keep us from falsehood.
All ye saints of God, intercede for us."

How about y'all? Do any of you feel like you're in the same or a similar boat? Has anyone found ways to combat all of this negativity we encounter online, especially social media? (side note: even limiting who I follow on social media doesn't always help). Is it possible to find a good balance between the online and offline worlds that lasts for more than a couple of days? If so, please let me know because I feel seriously burnt out these days.

Anyway, I hope y'all had a good work week and that you have a lovely weekend. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless! :D


Catherine Hawthorn said...

While I can't stand the negativity and some of the terrible things that I've seen happen on social media, there are advantages of using it. My usage is fairly limited but used right it can be a great tool.

Awesome post, Emmy!


Emmy Cecilia said...

Catherine, I think that's what I need to do -- remind myself of the good the social media brings in the middle of the negative.

Anonymous said...

My problem lately is being stressed out by internet. I feel like there's an abundance of blogs to follow, emails to check up on, Instagrammers I want to follow...I love information and being connected to people, but it really gets overwhelming. I'm really trying to cut down on my usage--that has helped. It's all about priorities, online and offline. Which blogs, websites, or people giving me positive encouragement and helping me grow in some way? That's the guideline I'm trying to follow.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Lianna, I'm in the same boat. I cut down my Instagram "following" list to over half of what it used to be. I like the idea of just following places which give positive encouragement and inspiration to grow. It's sad to think that there seem to be fewer places online like that but that also helps cut down the negative. I'm going to try it as well! Thanks for the suggestion!

thomasclark1 said...

I love the prayer.

This article makes me feel even more honored to have you as a follower. Prayers Sister...