Apparently there is a thing called Facebook Image Crafting, which in clear speak is the delusional art of making one’s life appear more cool than it actually is. Which may appear fine but it carries a hidden bombshell - its making us all feel depressed. Why? Because social media has played us an almighty stitch up leaving millions of people feeling everyone else's life is better than their own. So what do we mean by this? Well let’s depersonalize the issue and run the scenario through a different vehicle - let’s call it a local church. Let's create a fictional metaphor.
It goes something like this.
A new church arrives in town – they come with big faith, big hearts and big prayers. They have a fantastic venue, brilliant website, cutting edge technology, worship band to rival U2 and a Pastor who looks like he's just finished modelling for Gucci. Bang. And they're off. And social media is a buzz with excitement - fizz and froth you name it, the champagne cork has popped and the world is sweet.
Meanwhile, down the road, up the street and across the town - the other churches are all doing OK. Quite well actually. They are working hard. Serving people. Loving Jesus. And just, well just getting on with the stuff they tend to get on with. They too post to social media but they've noticed the glitz of the new kids on the block and it’s knocked their confidence a bit so they stopped posting so much and viewing new kids more. The comparison has knocked their enthusiasm which has caused them to envy rather than courage.
The problem is compounded because they have now bought into the media story of the new kids - how they are going to change the world, save the nations, see zillions of people putting their faith in Christ. And so the down the road church looks over their years of service, how they've tried to do the right thing, stayed faithful over decades - but it’s been hard and they've just had to persevere and sometimes, well sometimes, the fruit doesn't equate to the decades they have put in. And they begin to wonder whether they are part of the problem rather than the answer - and slowly, but surely they find less pictures going onto Facebook and less postings on Twitter because they can't manage to craft an image to keep up with the new kids. They start to lose heart and become more observer than participator because confidence has slipped and gloom has started to take its place.
For the new kids it takes time for reality to bite - the paint to wear and the pastor's golden brown locks to grey and reality to dawn that actually this transformation stuff takes time, and patience, and energy, and the dreaded tedium of routine – all of which doesn't post quite so well as glamour. These are all things that new kids have yet to learn – and will, like everyone does. But over time they too post less, and observe more, and notice a newer new kid on the block who offers very much what they offered but with a higher level of panache. And they too find themselves starting to look back at what’s coming and not simply forward at what is yet to be achieved and through this simple exchange they discover that they are being drawn into a dangerous game called – comparison. The place where our expectations are not simply measured on the scales of what is right – but also through the judgement of comparing ourselves against the success of others.
Which is where our fictional metaphor ends because we all know and can see the folly in it – and yet so easily find ourselves party to it. And this, in a nutshell is called Facebook Image Crafting. It's a mugs game. It's a mugs game that Tim Urban in his article 'Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy' portrays really well and you can read his full article here http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/09/why-generation-y-yuppies-are-unhappy.html. He describes it this way.
[We] find [ourselves] constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon.
Social media creates a world where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation. This leaves [them] feeling, incorrectly, like everyone else is doing really well, only adding to [their] misery.
But it’s a false perception of what is true - about both themselves and others.
So here are 8 tips on how to manage the menace and disperse the gloom created by the delusion of Facebook Image Crafting:
For many the passing this week of David Bowie brought both a sense of shock and loss - it took us by surprise, which may not be wholly inappropriate taking into consideration the nature of his work and artistic style. Not that I'm qualified to comment about the passing of such a legend. My musical knowledge is limited to the extent whereby my wife, Jo, has told me she will never be on the same side as me in a pub quiz since I will guarantee them failure!
However, even I am familiar with many of the songs and styles of Bowie - a soul given to portraying life through both sight and sound. To my mind artistry is by construct a spiritual act in so much as it takes you away from the material and physical to explore the mystical and mysterious. For many such a forage into other dimensions leads to both the weird and the wonderful and often the boundaries between the two become blurred. We ought not to be surprised that such journeys take on an experimental nature - the use of drugs and alcohol are well reported in pushing beyond the boundaries of convention and sexuality, which is most closely associated to spirituality, can by some, become gateways and connection points for a restless and searching soul. Some would argue that this is a turning from God - the Divine - who intrinsically places his image in the whole of humanity. Others would say it is a searching for it. But when David Bowie stood on the stage at London's Wembley Stadium at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 and prayed the Lord's Prayer in front of 72,000 people he embraced an act that says something about us all.
His reciting of the prayer was unrehearsed and left Brian May 'confused' by the spontaneous act. Yet kneeling as he did to represent the pain of loss and place of suffering he spoke in a manner that carried humility and vulnerability and prayed a prayer that resonated with the thousands gathered that day. Why? Perhaps its because when we feel the pain of others we want to offer something more than ourselves for in and of ourselves we know we are missing the power to bring any sense of hope to our hopelessness.
When I listened to Bowie praying on that stage I could see how many would see themselves in that prayer. Art draws on the soul and music pulls to a side of life that mystifies the material and reminds us that there is more to life than the stadium we stand in. His act of spontaneity offered words when words can so easily fail. It resonates because it captures how we feel and offers a pathway of hope amidst the darkness. His offering of the prayer gives a a wisdom that comes from our search for life which is this: it is when we come to the end of ourselves that we can truly find ourselves because in that ending we discover the potential of a new beginning in he who is the Father of the universe.
There are lots of things that can be said at the beginning of a New Year - and are. Here are a few buzzing around my head as we enter 2016
There can be a temptation to leave things too late and then excuse inactivity on the basis of busyness when essentially it’s down to poor planning. I know I can be guilty of this and seek to change things to be better in 2016. As Chris Evan's notes when talking about running the marathon - the key is preparation, preparation, preparation.
Invest in Infrastructure
Last year we needed to drill some holes through concrete posts and I basically burnt out the drill on just one hole! We changed tactics and went and hired a specialist drill and the job was done in just a few minutes. If you want to do the job well then invest in the right equipment. There is so much available to us to make certain tasks easier and more effective. Time is your greatest asset so don't waste it by spending it on things that can be simplified by good infrastructure.
You are your greatest asset
Whatever you are planning to do by either call or curiosity - you need to look after yourself. That doesn't make you selfish - it makes you available. You can't be available if you are not able to be present to a situation and you can't be present if you haven't taken care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As Oscar Wilde said, 'Be yourself, everyone else it taken.' Plan to be the best you that you can be this year.
See it before you build it
All good work starts in the heart and mind before it translates into the reality of the here and now. Give space to think, reflect and pray. Allow the vision you have to become and image that forms in your mind - that then becomes the blueprint for what you want to build. Remember you can only build it if you can see it. Vision comes first.
Have a great 2016!