You sit down for dinner in a nice restaurant. Across from you there are two couples, one young and the other old. The young couple is talking away…not a moment of silence between them. The old couple sits together with one very noticeable difference…less talk, more silence.
Maturity leads to security:
It is easy to think the young couple is more in love because they have so much more to talk about with few of those awkward, silent moments and that the older couple has been together so long that they have lost their spark. How can you tell? Their silence seems to tell us that much. To the young, silence feels awkward, highlighting our own sense of insecurity. Silence allows our thoughts to race and for us feel like we have been left out of what the other person is thinking (social media has trained many to think that we really should have constant access to the thoughts of those around us). In our desire to re-establish our sense of security and to quickly eliminate the anxiety that the unknown tends to produce, we race to fill the silence with either questions or answers.
This is something you may have experienced in person but it is also highly likely that you have experienced this via facebook, twitter, email, text, etc. You may have experienced this when you sent a message to someone and they never responded and you worried over whether or not you hurt their feelings. You sent them that Facebook message that was marked “Seen” 30 seconds after you sent it and still no response. What are they thinking? Are they mad? And so you kept waiting and waiting for them to answer. When they finally replied, what felt like an eternity was only 2 minutes since you sent your message.
It is far too easy to worry and agonize over what people think about us, because in a world full of noise, it feels like all opinions are out for all to see. When they aren’t it worries us. It is insecurity of the highest order.
Back to those two couples…the truth may actually be the opposite of what our intuition tells us. It may well be that the young couple is so insecure in their connection and insecure with themselves that they feel the constant need to fill the air with noise, while the old couple is secure with their relationship and with their own identity so much so that they don’t feel the need to fill the air with chatter. They rest comfortably and securely in the moment, just being present with one another.
Maturity knows when to be silent:
The typical thought is that the more mature you get the more things of value you have to say. I am wondering if there is a flip side to that…the more mature you get the more you learn to embrace silence.The more mature you get the more you are able to not feel the need to call out every error, fix every issue and be the savior of every person you don’t see eye to eye with on every miniscule issue. It takes maturity to know which “fights” are worth jumping into and which ones are best avoided. It takes a solid maturity and personal security with one’s self to be silent…to not feel the need to fill the air with noise. We need more people who know when to be silent and often, that person who needs to embrace the silence is me.
In a world chocked full of social media outlets the whole point is to make noise. The crazy thing about it is, we send out noise to be recognized…we hope someone will notice. If they don’t, people get devastated, feel unloved or unwanted and try even harder to get noticed until they do something or say something they never would have said otherwise. We have created a system that rewards the outliers and the extremes…it takes things viral that normally shouldn’t have been said in the first place. In the process, there is spiritual de-formation taking place that is killing a whole generation.
Maturity adds value to others:
Many of us need to learn to be secure enough with ourselves that silence no longer feels threatening and that our feelings of value and acceptance aren’t based on who “likes” or “shares” our posts or whether or not our thoughts become the latest “viral” buzz. We need to spend more time and energy pointing people away from ourselves, not to ourselves and rejoicing in the well being of people other than ourselves.
A lot of you already do these things. You have already learned the lesson and this isn’t news to you. Praise God for that! But there are still many who need to learn that their value is not wrapped up in social media or superficial connections but in a God who truly loves them and in Christians who genuinely care.
How has social media heightened your sense of insecurity?
What have you done to address that?
Have you ever taken time off from social media?
How did that go?