Social Media Is Not A Confession Booth

Social media's role in our current culture cannot be overstated. It dominates all other forms of media, is almost entirely crowd-sourced, and is the platform of choice for most people engaging in the divisive hot-button issues of the day.  

Millions of people post on social media daily, and the amount of information shared is unprecedented in human history.   

It's also replacing many institutions, including the church, as a space for community, both real and imagined.  

I've become fascinated by the apparent need for so many people to post their confessions and then engage in the responses from those who follow them online. 

They'll share about mistakes they've made, stories of their trauma, divulge personal information about their mental health and generally bare themselves in front of potentially millions of people. 

And then they watch the responses roll in.  

To be fair, many people offer support responses after someone posts a seemingly heartfelt confession.  But I often wonder if it's the "haters" whom the person posting really wants to hear from. 

You see, the haters are the ones who validate a certain level of victimhood for the person posting. They can parlay the negativity into more sympathy, and their plight becomes even more dramatic, garnering more clicks and attention. 

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, most of what constitutes vulnerability on social media rings hollow when all is said and done.   

I get this is a jaded view, but in my observations, what I just described is what happens when the "confession booth" is virtual. The physical and emotional distance between the "penitent" and the confessor is too far for real vulnerability. 

In other words, there is no substitute for sharing your pain with someone you trust, sitting across from you and within hugging distance. 

That's when vulnerability gets real. There is a genuine risk in sharing at that point. We can feel the energy from the other as we let go of whatever is breaking our hearts.  

I read this excellent quote by the late author and activist James Baldwin: 

One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself--that is to say, risking oneself.  If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.  

Listen, I know that people on social media appear to be genuine and genuinely believe they have a relationship with their followers, a community, a tribe, and a crowd who will rally to them.  

But how vulnerable can you really get when there are so many barriers between you and the risk of revealing your soul to someone who can see your face, your tears, and your wringing hands?  

There is risk in that kind of moment, though.  It's the kind of risk that you don't have to venture from the other side of a screen.  

having deep connections with people we trust, who know our stories, and who feel our pain is essential to our societal development and even more necessary to us as human beings. 

In the Genesis account, God declares about Adam, "It is not good for the human to be alone." I paraphrased it a bit, but that's the overall sentiment of the ancient text.  

Spend some time today cultivating relationships with the trusted few in your circle. Tell them how much you value your connection with them and how much it means to know you can tell them anything. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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