by: Ian Nelson
We live in an era of curation. The proliferation of social media has caused much of our modern lives to become about creating, organizing, and presenting a certain image of ourselves to the world around us. Whether it’s numerous bios we’re filling out to describe ourselves in profile sections, a steady stream of words we are tweeting or posting to represent us, or a collection of images used to reflect our lifestyle and body of work—every single one of us is curating a perception of ourselves online to the world around us.
Most of us, without realizing it, try to create and maintain a certain image of ourselves as being an intriguing or fascinating individual—we let the world know that we are explorers or adventurers or artists of some kind, that we get to travel to sought-after places, and be included in important events, or in the lives of other interesting people. However, most of the noise online these days tends to become self-focused. (Perhaps this can most obviously be seen in our generation’s obsessive phenomenon: “the selfie.”) If we’re honest, we are trying to get the world to notice us—that we are important, that we are interesting, that we are worth following or tracking with in life.
I don’t think this trend comes solely from some narcissistic bent or self-seeking posture in life (although that’s part of it), but I think this actually communicates a deeper need inside every human being: to be known and to be loved. We want to be liked. We want to be included. We want to matter. And that’s not bad—that’s in your DNA because you were created by a relational God to experience a deep relationship with Him and deep relationships with a community around you.
In fact, this is what the heartbeat behind Socality is all about. We recognize that human beings, deep inside, each want to be loved and each strongly desire community. We want to do everything we can to help people find it. The problem is—if we operate from a posture of just communicating “self” to the world around us, and trying to attract people by coming across to others as special or interesting, it will never work.
Last month, at the Socality Live event in Calgary, we were talking about how the mentality on social media needs to change from “Here I am” to “There you are.” I love that, and it’s so true. Think about how much of our social media posts and images communicate, “Look at me! Notice me! Follow me! See me! See my work!” If that’s what everyone online is doing—trying to get people to notice and like them—then who will be the ones to do the noticing and the liking of others?
We need to stop trying to be interesting and start being interested. This is the only way for true, authentic community to happen—for real relationships to form and for people to feel noticed and loved. We need to stop keeping track of how many likes we have and start liking. We need to be less concerned with the comments on our own feed and become more concerned with commenting on other people’s feeds. We need to reach out to others, acknowledge others, invite others, follow others, compliment others, encourage and engage others online.
To close, I think Jesus is the ultimate example of this. Jesus didn’t come to earth trying to be the most interesting person who ever lived, focusing on what he could do to attract the attention of the world around Him. Instead, He came to love, serve, and die for the people around Him because He was so interested in their eternal wellbeing and value as the created beings He deeply loved. And because of that—because Jesus was so interested, not in Himself, but in others—He by default became one of the most interesting and world-changing individuals who has ever lived, because He embodied what real love looks like.
Today, this week, this summer—what would it look like for you to do social media, and life as a whole, in such a way that you are more interested than you are interesting? Because that’s when the world starts to change.