We got married in the summer of 2004. Before Facebook, Myspace and Instagram. The term “social media” wasn’t even coined yet. I know many of you reading this right now are nodding your head because you too were married long before news feeds, midnight scrolling and live videos entered the sacred walls of your home.
Big Twelve Facebook
I distinctly remember the day that I visited my old college roommates and they told me about Facebook. I had been married a few months. My friend Amy literally sat at a computer in her apartment and created my account because “everyone was doing it”.
It wasn’t long before I accumulated a handful of friends and received a few messages posted to my wall. Back in those days a wall post consisted of a “Hello friend” or, if you were lucky a friend might “poke” you for a funny hello.
The avalanche of social media was just beginning to ascend.
Those first years of marriage were difficult. They are for everyone. Figuring out how to coexist with another human is hard work. It is difficult to be confronted with the shortcomings of the person you love. But, the bigger pill to swallow is coming face to face with your own failings– and at the same time. It
often ALWAYS exposes both the best and worst parts of who you are.
The early years of marriage.
Our first year of marriage we lived in a church parsonage in a town of about 300 people. It took us 20 minutes to get to the nearest “city”, which boasted of a few grocery stores and a “regular walmart”. (I believe the super Wal-mart opened up just a few weeks before we moved.)
We had a TV with the basic channels. Cable was not offered where we lived and the price of satellite TV was out of our $500 monthly budget. A 21 year old couple can only watch so many reruns of “King of Queens” or “That Seventies Show”. Many of our nights were spent playing scrabble and rummy, or taking our dogs to a pond to fish and spit sun-flower seeds. Our time was spent learning to be together and learning how to enjoy it.
I look back now, and I am so thankful for these few years that were set apart for us to actually learn how to live together. My thumb wasn’t scrolling through everyone’s’ life looking for ways to compare these hard years to their good ones. Our simple days were good enough. Our brash moments came and went, without any avenue to vent or retaliate. I am so thankful.
The game has changed
That innocent world of living unplugged isn’t our reality these days. Today it is a constant struggle to keep my eyes fixed on my own world as the draw of social media wheels me in. I have to remember that my relationship doesn’t live in “insta-reality” or on my Facebook wall. Believe me, after just a few years of this social experiment we are living in, I have learned that creating a picturesque life is a lot easier than the hard work it takes to live a healthy-loving-life.
I have seen (seemingly) beautiful lives rot from the inside out. Marriages have ended, friendships severed and families split apart over this facade of reality. The reality is that we must not let the hook set as the enemy lures us away from our own families into the palms of others.
This means replacing the lies with truth.
My therapist once told me that thoughts are like balloons. They enter your mind through various avenues; through a sign you pass by, through a television commercial, through a post on Facebook, through a suggestion from a friend. These balloons enter the vast sky of your mind.
You have control over which balloons you reach for and which balloons you cling tightly to. As we log onto social media we are bombarded with a barrage of balloons. We have a choice. Do we reach for the negative thoughts, or the thoughts that stray us away from our own lives? Or do we let them go by, giving them freedom to float past and not harm us?
Battling back comparison
I personally find that we spend less time trying to connect when we have our phones in hand or laptops open. It’s a constant struggle to keep putting the internet away and giving each other the first fruits of our attention.
So after 13 years of marriage the game has changed. I am ever-so thankful for those first few years when the voice of culture was quieter. Today it is up to me to muffle the noise and focus on my own life. I have to let those balloons pass through the space in my mind, and only cling to the ones that give life.