Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Private (please don't read)

It's more and more rare to meet someone who says they are a private person.

Social media has opened wide the door of self-promotion, TMI, and WTMI (Way.Too.Much.Information). Do you ever have those Jim and Pam moments from The Office when you just wish there was a camera there to capture your "I-can't-believe-they-wrote-that" look?

Somehow, sitting at our computers, looking at lit screens and tapping on plastic keys empowers us to tell all. Some people are all too honest, while others "pen" the life they imagine. I don't think all of us realize the longevity of our digital footprint. It's like a tattoo: You can try to remove it, but there is just no way to make it all disappear.

I remember when I first signed up for FB in 2004, almost a decade ago (wow!). I was so cautious of putting anything on my page. I'm pretty sure I put my name (with a hesitant "click" to submit my last name) and stumbled my way through posting a profile picture. There was no way I would fill out all of those "About Me" questions for the world to see.

And then, things gradually relaxed. More and more people joined FB, posting more and more things. When I saw someone post a few pictures from an event, I decided that was a good idea. Pictures are harmless, right? We all know where that can get people in trouble now, especially with tagging. When I saw someone post answers to the "About Me" questions, I rationalized filling out the template for myself. These sections can be tasteful or not...

As the years went by, more and more personal things were posted: relationship statuses, feelings about other people or work or school, opinions about political and social and religious issues, etc. Then, people started posting very personal and detailed status updates including personal hygiene, arguments and bad feelings, and complaints about how they were being treated.

Instead of chiming in, I decided to back away and focus on a few things: photos, keeping in touch with friends, and sharing (hopefully) encouraging articles and quotes. This evening, I was introduced to a new-to-me author, Emily Freeman. Something about her "voice" resonates with me. Despite being a blogger who discusses her faith and personal life, she has a very respectable sense of privacy in her words. You see into her heart and yet don't feel as though she over-shares.

A recent post of hers inspired my post tonight. In her entry entitled when it's good to keep your art a secret, Emily touches on her journey of learning the balance between over-sharing and right-sharing.
Regarding keeping the details of an upcoming book under wraps for longer than usual, she says, 

"There is a sweetness for me in keeping quiet this time, in holding my art close to my chest for a while, in sitting with my words and ideas in silence month after month before I begin to talk about them, in carrying my questions with a few people before I ask them in front of many."

How much could we learn during the silence, during the quiet moments when we ponder our thoughts and feelings before, if ever, broadcasting them? It's so easy to think something or feel a certain way, pick up your phone, open an app, and tap out a few words that could have lasting consequences. What if, instead, we forced ourselves to wait at least an hour? How many guilty consciences, relationships, and heartaches would be saved?

So, I challenge you: Wait an hour.

 And if you need a distraction, here are a few things you could do in that hour of waiting:

1. Write a thank-you note.
2. Pray.
3. Plan your grocery list.
4. Call your mom.
5. Read a book or magazine.
6. Fix yourself a snack.
7. Go on a walk.
8. Organize your email.
9. Encourage someone.
10. Plan your next service opportunity.

You can get a lot done in an hour! Psalms 90:12

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