I’ve been thinking about the many pitfalls of social media. It can fuel envy and comparison. It can lead to an identity rooted in the approval of others. It can falsely reduce the complexity of life, and make it appear like some people have it all together. They don’t. Social media can also flat out lie to you.
A lie I’ve seen a lot recently is “I see you.” The thrust of the statement is that the forgotten or lonely or oppressed or struggling are recognized by some influencer. It’s one thing to say, “Newborn Mamas, I feel you. Getting up to feed and change baby every two hours is exhausting. Trust me it’s going to get better!” No matter the severity of the struggle, sincere sentiments like “I’ve been there” and “I get it” and “You are not alone” are comforting. But “I see you” is different. I realize it’s an expression, but the fact is the person doesn’t “see” you at all. They are on a device somewhere and your personal crisis is wholly unknown to them. I don’t think we were designed to offer theoretical comfort, to be burdened for others in such a detached, impersonal way. Nor do I think we can be satisfied with such comfort.
The more loving thing to say, is the truth: “God sees you.” He knows all about it. He loves you no matter what and He cares about your situation and your feelings. He not only literally sees you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
The “I see you” bloggers could also offer the wisdom that is actually needed: “I wish I could help, but you need a face-to-face encourager. Get involved in a local church. Don’t just anonymously attend a Sunday service. Join a small group or a Bible study. Go to Sunday School. Go to Wednesday night dinners. No matter how hard it is at first, continue to seek real biblical community where you can be seen, loved, and understood. It is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving its people and plant yourself there.”
The corollary is that if we truly desire to “see” hurting people, we’ll stop posting about it and go see them. Be the shoulder to cry on, the attentive listener, the speaker of truth that the hurting actually need. Being there for someone in their hour of need, or more likely in their intermittently needy life, is not always easy but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving people and serve there.
Technology can be used for good. I’ve been writing this blog for more than eleven years and through it I hope I’ve spurred others on. I’ve certainly been spurred on by readers and commenters, and my posts are mostly reminders directed at me. But relationships based in technology cannot be primary. We need in-the-flesh relationships. We grow closer to Jesus in the midst of the body, the physical body, of believers.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”” 2 Chronicles 16:9a
His loving eyes go to and fro, He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. But I hope you also have Christian friends who will see you and love you this weekend and always.