I recently wrote a “Thought Stream” titled “Winning the Lottery“. This was about a very personal struggle me and my family were (and still are) going through. There were some surprising things that surfaced after I published this post.
Before I get ahead of myself, my wife and I have talked a lot about transparency (or the lack of). You see, a year ago we would have dealt with our current struggles behind closed doors. Over the years we had become very practiced at hiding our personal challenges (translation: I’m a very private person). Behind the smiles, laughs, inspirational stories, and occasional jokes we often shared in public and with friends, there was also fear, anxiety, and judgement that was only known to us. We had become very good at hiding this very normal part of being human. Struggles and challenges are a part of life and a part of being human. You can’t avoid them; they’re going to happen to all of us from time to time. It’s not the situation itself, but rather how you respond to these situations that define who you are.
I have found that it takes a lot of energy to maintain this image of perfection and bliss. In fact, it’s down right exhausting. Been there, done that. In some weird way social media seems to turn this into some twisted form of competition or game that we don’t even know we’re playing. So why do we do this? The fact of the matter is that we all do it to some varying degree. I believe we’ve been socially engineered to do this through the evolution of social media. Don’t get me wrong…I love seeing all the wonderful things going on in people’s lives. That’s the inspirational part of social media, but it can also be a slippery slope if we’re not careful.
When is the last time that you saw someone boasting on social media about their struggling relationship, money problems, job concerns, health concerns, addiction, etc? Almost never. We are programmed to only share the very best version of ourselves. We’ll take 10 selfies before we actually settle on that perfect pic that’s going to win the prize. We’re setting one another up for failure when we do this. Have you ever seen a selfie of someone in a state of deep sadness with tears rolling down their cheeks? Of course not. We have an image to maintain. With that said, we also need to be selective just as we are when we post the positive things in our life.
The irony behind this is that during our times of struggle when we need one another the most, we tend to go the exact opposite direction. We shove it under the rug and try to deal with it in our own private way. We’re social beings and we weren’t designed to handle things this way. Shame and judgment creep into our minds and we shy away from sharing “real” life experiences. We double down on maintaining a perfect persona on social media so as to cloak our life struggles in an image of bliss. When faced with challenges in business we often use the phrase, “let’s rally around it” to solve the issue. Why is it so difficult to do this at a personal level? I’m convinced we’ve been socially engineered through social media. I’m not saying that everyone should post all their grievances for the world to see, but it’s okay to show the other side of life when it’s appropriate. We as human beings are engineered to want to help one another, but you can’t help if you’re unaware. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to sharing something that’s a little more personal and real. There’s a lot of good in this world and we’re truly blessed. I’m also not saying that we turn social media into one big pity party, but maybe we could all work to make it a little more real. Maybe we could actually make social media “social” and let it be a mechanism to facilitate real and meaningful interaction and engagement.
Back to my recent post. It was very liberating being open, honest, and transparent about our current situation. The outpouring of love, friendship, and support has been amazing. We’re not asking for anything other than prayers and positive thoughts. When we trust in God, HE has a way of providing. I always tell my kids, “good thoughts good things, bad thoughts bad things”. I believe there is power in prayer amplified by power in numbers. This is a very underutilized component of social media. I often see the cryptic post of “please send prayers my way”, but with no explaination. We still want to cloak ourselves in bliss instead of being open and transparent with those that matter most to us.
Admittedly, I’m not close to everyone that is connected to me on social media, but we are connected in some way or form. We share a common thread somewhere along the way. My wife and I are approaching 2018 with openness and transparency, and replacing “stuff” with experiences. This is one of our first experiences of 2018 that we’re sharing, and it has been absolutely amazing seeing the outpouring of love and support. Thank you and God bless all of you for your support, kind words, and thoughtful prayers. We’re wishing all of you the very best in 2018!
And yes…you see, I’ve already won the lottery. God always provides.