Can You Relate?

Condensed version?
My personal Facebook Feed is toxic to my heart right now 
and here's what I'm doing to put guardrails up for my sanity and sanctification.
I've deleted the app off my phone 
and I've established strict Facebook hours on my computer.
And I've unfollowed a lot of people.
Jerry and Jack, that was for you.
Move along, fellas.😏

Extended Version?
For the rest of you who don't mind words.
And lots of them.
Buckle up.
We're all wired differently, right?
I'm wired to encourage. 
To provide hope. 
To be positive.
To inspire. 
To nudge people toward goodness and kindness.
It's the lens in which I do life and live life.
I have my fair share of faults, 
- just ask Jack, Jackson and Maddie - 
but if I was in a job interview and asked to name a few of my strengths,
 these would be among my best.
It's when I'm most fully alive 
and who I am meant to be.
Current Situation?
This past season I've been drowning in the ugly all over Facebook. 
It's sickening.
And quite un-hopeful. 
It's toxic. 
Kindness has all but dried up in the name of 
"I'm right and you're wrong"
replete with finger wagging 
and name calling.
I'm so very saddened by it all.

When I have been  brave/foolish enough to post, 
my *attempt* is to model proper dialogue. 
How to agree to disagree. 
How to listen.
How to ask questions of the 'other.'
How to be respectful.
How to not be threatened by a differing opinion.
How to be kind.
How to look at all sides of an issue.
I certainly haven't always gotten it right.
But I'm trying.

And I feel like it's falling 100% flat. 

I've been left deeply discouraged. 
I want better for us. 
And quite honestly, 
I want WAY better for those that say they love Jesus. 
My Facebook feed contains ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative
and literally everything in-between.
I'm not living in a bubble. 
On purpose.
I want to see/hear all sides.
People's thoughts matter to me.
I might not agree with you, 
but I still want to hear your heart and opinions.
I want to try to understand.

But I can honestly - and sadly - say, 
that on my personal feed, 
-I can't speak for yours-
it's those right of center that call
 themselves Christians 
that are the loudest, 
ugliest and 
most unreasonable in their posts and in their words.

I cannot handle the fact that our country and our Christians 
have lost the ability to be reasonable.
We are out of our ever-loving minds, friends.

I have found myself repeatedly mumbling under my breath,
"Well no wonder people want nothing to do with Jesus. 
Look at the way his followers are acting and reacting."

We must do better.
This has been going on for years now 
and quite frankly it seems to be getting worse.
And that makes me super SUPER sad.

We're bearing down on Election Day 2020 here in America
-Jesus take the wheel-
and I can't even fathom how much uglier it's going to get.
By this point you might be saying,
"Well then ditch Facebook, Alysa. 
Why all the words? 
Just walk away."

Herein lies my personal problem.
Facebook is my marketing tool for my photography business,
Water Street Dreams
It's how I get new clients. 
Almost every time I post a photo from a session on Facebook, 
a referral is generated and a new session booked. 
I'd venture a guess that 95% of my new business comes 
from Jennie seeing Sally's photos from a session with me. 
Jennie then reaches out and wants a family session, too. 
The word-of-mouth marketing through Facebook photos 
has been a gift to me the past 10 years.

But I'm at a crossroads.  
My Facebook feed has been toxic to my heart and soul. 
For far too long.
I want to see first day of school photos and new babe photos 
and Jimmy riding his bike for the first time photos.
I want to hear if you're having a rough day so that I can pray,
because I believe in the power of prayer.
There really is so much delight on Facebook.

But somehow, 
in the brief span of sharing a business photo 
and seeing Jimmy on his bike, 
I inadvertently see other posts,
hatred in sideways comments 
and shared articles on both sides of the divide.

I'm learning, ever-so-slowly, 
the art of
but somehow I start down that rabbit trail of looking at comments
and looking at who's 'liking' a certain article and before long
my inner voice is screaming,
"I can't even handle that person any more!" 
AND THAT IS SO WRONG on my part.
See how ugly I get?
Not good.

Am I the only one on this crazy train? 
People I used to respect and love are now unfollowed 
because I simply can't deal with the hatred they're spewing. 
And that makes me SO sad.
That's not who I am, 
to give up on people like that.
I feel my heart of compassion drying up right before my eyes.

It seems as if people have lost the ability to have civil discourse
with someone they don't agree with. 
I can't handle the 'us versus them' screaming 
from one side of the aisle to the other.
 I have friends and family on both sides of the political divide, 
from the very far left to the very far right
and nary the twain shall meet.

Personally, I plop myself right down in the the middle.
I'm theologically conservative and socially compassionate,
too conservative for progressives and too progressive for conservatives.
(I saw that line somewhere recently and absolutely love it.
It's exactly how I feel. I wish I could give credit to the author.)
So I'm in a quandry.
I haven't known what to do about it.
Until last week.

I wasn't really sure what to do,
but knew I couldn't continue on my current path.
As usual, 
my greatest ideas come in the shower 
or on a random walk, 
and as of last week, 
I've implemented a couple new things
that seem to be working,
at least for the time being.

deleted Facebook off my phone and only have it on my laptop,
which is a lot less convenient to pop onto when I have three spare minutes to kill.
THAT has been a huge game-changer. 
I already feel my heart and spirit settling down.

I am only on Facebook during regular business hours, 
Monday through Friday, 

That way, if I do see the nonsense in passing, 
at least I have several hours to forget about it 
before I try to go to sleep at night.
Early last week I was actually T H I S close to saying, 
"I'm done with Facebook. 
And if my business folds because I'm not on Facebook, 
so be it."

But I shared my discouragement with my small group,
asking them to pray with me about a solution,
and my husband's offhanded remark of 
"just don't look at the crap people post" 
got me to thinking,
Maybe he's onto something. 
Maybe I could be on Facebook
and not let it spiral out-of-control."

And then I went for a walk.
And ideas sparked:

Delete Facebook off my phone.

Install regular office hours 
and be vigilant about keeping them.

And I have to say,
so far it's working.
It seems too simple to be effective,
but maybe, just maybe,
this solution will help.

I share all this to say,
maybe you need some new perimeters in place 
for how you navigate social media,
especially with the upcoming American election.
Maybe you need to delete an app or two.
Maybe you need time limits on the ones you have.
Maybe you need to unfollow that person that triggers you

While there's no right answer,
I do believe our next right step 
always involves taking care of our hearts.

What are you doing to guard your heart these days?
I'd love to know.


Rutakintome said…
Great post. Have you seen "The Social Dilemma" on Netflix? Highly recommended!! A must see. I think a profound sadness has come over me as I watch our beloved nation move towards darkness, and, frankly, as I get older, I am more aware of just how little time I have, so, I would rather fill that time with Jesus, hope, family, friends and humility...or, at least move in those directions. There is so much beauty in the world... there is so much beauty in so many people in the world... the kind of beauty that simply arrests our souls and brings us to a place where we, even if for a moment, realize how small we are and how petty the causes and quarrels that we champion just leave us diminished, and with a broken will to love. I want to live. I want to be alive. I am the only person in my life that I can influence... that, with God's grace, I can change. I am really living and truly alive when I choose to love everyone else, and work on the hardest person in my life: me.

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