Phony Is Spelled P-H-O-N-E
We live in a digital age. The stakes are higher. Perfection isn’t attainable, but it’s expected online.
More than ever before, we live open and public lives. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a public figure to share your daily routine with the world and have a following.
And in order to keep people interested, we continually put our best foot forward and make it look like we’re living the dream. Our lives aren’t perfect, but no one’s the wiser on social media.
Is this healthy for us or the people who follow us, though?
Why do we still call these things phones?
It’s crazy. The technology we carry in our pockets is far more powerful than we realize. We take it for granted that our phones were the stuff of science fiction just 30 years ago.
From a technological standpoint, it’s insane what you can do with your phone. I use my phone to listen to music, record interviews, play games, watch movies, get turn-by-turn directions and see what friends are up to on Facebook. When it rings, I’m always caught off guard. That’s right, you can call people on it, too.
From a sociological standpoint, they’re powerful as well. For many, their phones are the lens by which they see their world and share their world with others.
I’m flabbergasted when I see people at concerts or sporting events with their phones out the whole time. Half of them are live-streaming, and the other half are ignoring their surroundings but staying on top of their social following. Neither are present during what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Phones have an ability to shape how people perceive us, too. I bet more people use their phones to make their lives appear pristine than for any other reason.
Don’t think so? When was the last time you saw an advertisement for a new cellphone that didn’t focus exclusively on its new camera? And when was the last time you saw a friend post a picture of the giant zit on their nose?
We don’t use our phones to be honest with one another. More often, we use our phones to make our lives appear happier and more perfect than they really are.
There’s more to life than happiness
Hopefully I’m not the only person that’s looked through his Facebook and Instagram pictures and wished his life was really as great as they make it appear. I look at my own pictures and think to myself, Man, if only I were that guy. Oh wait, I am that guy. Or at least I am at times.
It’s good to have fun, smile, laugh and share your happiness for everyone to see. But what if those good days and great moments are the only parts of our lives we share with others?
We all know the emotional rollercoasters we ride between the pictures we post on Instagram. But do our friends? The exhaustion, the worry, the anxiety, the depression, the rejection, the jealousy, the fear and the weakness never make it on Facebook.
We share only the good stuff, which can make it really hard for people struggling with life to relate to us.
We’re not perfect, so let’s share that on Instagram
Have you ever asked yourself, Why don’t I post about the bad stuff that happens to me or when I make a mistake? Or, Why do I have to make sure I look perfect in a picture before I share it online?
Of course, we want to make our lives look perfect. In reality, though, they’re not.
In real life, you need forgiveness and God’s unconditional love just as much as the next person. You need to be comforted by the Holy Spirit when life gets rough. And after certain sins, you question whether you’re truly resting in Christ just like every other Christian who doubts their salvation at times.
You’re human and imperfect, but you try to hide that online.
Be honest with yourself and with others
In Romans 12:3, Paul warned Christians in Rome who had a similar problem (just without cellphones). I like the New Living Translation’s version of what Paul wrote:
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
I don’t think Christians actively try to look better than they really are. Rather, there seems to be a default setting (sin and our deceitful hearts) ingrained in our humanity that sneaks into our thinking if we’re not careful. That’s why Paul warns us to evaluate ourselves honestly and measure ourselves by faith and not the world’s standards.
We stand to gain little by tricking ourselves and the world into thinking our lives are perfect. Instead, think about the influence we could have to encourage others who are struggling. Think about the witnesses we could be of Christ’s power to make us new creations if we shared the bad with the good.
So the next time you learn a hard lesson, make a terrible mistake or struggle to find a redeeming part of your day, think about sharing that with the world, too. Or maybe start by posting your first attempt to take a selfie without doctoring it up (#meh #nobodysperfect).
Your life won’t look perfect and that’s OK. The world doesn’t need more fake perfection. Instead, we all could use a daily reminder that “‘[the Lord’s] power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Copyright 2018 Matt Stickel. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Matt Stickel is blessed to share people’s amazing, heart-breaking and inspirational stories for a living. He regularly writes and shares stories about lives being transformed by God’s grace at the rescue mission he works at in Colorado Springs and regularly challenges others to pause and think about important topics like introversion and depression on his own blog. He’s happily married to the most encouraging and hard-working wife. He enjoys simple pleasures like cooking yummy food, reading history books and taking long hikes in the woods with the aim of getting lost.