February 3, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

“One year, 365 photos.”

The headline caught my attention. The article featured a teenage girl who made—and kept—her 2010 resolution to take one picture every day and post it on Facebook. I wanted to see what she had to “say” through her photos and what she discovered along the way.

Her pictures were interesting. They explored lighting and experimented with technique. Then I noticed something odd. The photographer featured herself in every picture. Every one.

I nudged my husband, who was lost in the sports section, “Look at this. She’s the topic of every photo. In one year you’d think she would’ve looked past herself to view the world around her? That’s what’s wrong with this generation! They’re so in love with themselves!”

In reality teenagers have long been self-absorbed and narcissistic (recall the poster child, Narcissus). Psychologists say it’s developmental. But in the “good old days” us teens wrote in our diaries, expressed ourselves on our bedroom walls and talked on the phone with our best friends for hours. Our self-absorption just wasn’t available for public consumption.

Now in the age of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and such, navel gazing (omphaloskepsis as it’s formally called) has gone digital. A ready audience—literally the entire world—awaits, and no thought is too personal or too mundane to share.

And it’s not just young people. Forty-five percent of Facebook’s 45 million active users in the U.S. is 26 years old or older; women over 55 represent one of its fastest growing segments. In 2009 there were over 200,000,000 blogs (yes, million), and there are even more today. The number of Twitter users is growing exponentially.

“Look at me!” we proclaim loudly and frequently. (Yes, I know I've done plenty of navel-gazing on these very pages.)

Yet, in this status-updating, tweeting, blogging, posting, wall-writing frenzy has our quest for self-expression/-exploration/-promotion/-adoration rebirthed our inner teenager? Have we become a culture of attention-seekers in love with our reflection? 

As if reading my thoughts, on Sunday our pastor preached, “One of Satan’s greatest tricks is not only to put up a wall between you and God, but to put a mirror on your side of the wall—to get you to look at yourself.” Wow! We've been making the enemy's job really easy!

Our pastor continued, “Humility means smashing that mirror and looking to the One you’re following—which is Jesus.”

Humility? Now there’s an outdated concept. In our culture it’s hard to even know what humility means…or looks like. Yet, as Jesus-followers our ongoing challenge is to live in the world, but not of the world. So we need to figure it out.

In the end, I can read the papers, observe the world and offer commentary on it all, but it really comes down to me and God—and my own mirror. Will I proudly gaze with fondness on my own glory or will I humbly turn the mirror to magnify His?

At the end of the year, will it be 365 Days of Me? Or 365 Days of Thee?

What’s your choice?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” (Romans 12:1-3)


Sue J. said...

Was very glad this wasn't a post on the Diana Ross song!

My Bible study group is now tackling Beth Moore's take on Daniel. Her premise is that we are living in a modern-day Babylon--and liking it, perhaps, too much. Life of self-indulgence, I-I-I, meet MY needs, etc. Talk about presenting your body as a living sacrifice--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--we will not bow down to your god, O king!....

The social media do not have to be outlets for sin. But if we find ourselves gravitating toward sin because of them, then we need to pause and re-examine our use of them. (Like I shouldn't be griping about the weather on FB all the time. God made the day; I should rejoice and be glad in it!)

Cheryl Barker said...

Even though I get stuck way too often focusing on myself, I find I'm usually thinking of Him throughout the day, too. And I do want it to be 365 days of Him! Or maybe I should say 365 days of me and Him together? Yeah, I like that. A year spent together...

Carmen said...

This post is awesome Kelli. I've been thinking about this subject for a long time now. I've considered going off FB, deleting my blogs...but haven't yet. It's one of the ways I keep in touch with family and friends who don't all live here. Still, I have consciously been limiting my time on all of them and spending more time in the Word. It's so hard to find a balance. I'm not even sure it's about balance, but rather about an inclusion of God in all we do. Still pondering it all.

Runner Mom said...

Great post! And, I like Cheryl's idea! Hope y'all aren't completely freezing!!!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Awesome post, awesome girl! Well-written and to the point. Convicting as well. In this season, I've done a lot of reflecting on me and my cancer. It's all I know to do right now. In the end, I hope to always shine the mirror back on Jesus. You certainly do, my friend.


Anonymous said...

Some wise person asked, Am I a God-minimizer or a God-magnifier? I guess we all have to get away from the self-magnifier first!
Great insights, Kelli!

Tiff Marcotte said...

Thank you so much for this post. You are so right. The world is such a "me" society. Breaking the bonds of self absorption is hard. Looking at my blog, I feel convicted. Me, Me, Me... Should be He, He, He. A no not, hehehe :)