Welcome to my blog. This is my own little corner of the internet where I tell you stories and make confessions and opine about all things, significant and not. For the easily offended, please stop reading right here. Go back to watching Grey's Anatomy or Glee or whatever else it is that you do for fun. You might not like what I am about to tell you. I don't even like it. But here I am, ready to say something about it. Needing, even, to say something about it.
Social Networking. It has changed the way we do almost everything. From communicating with friends, to dining out, to getting opinions on important decisions, and presenting who we are to the rest of the world. Everything has changed because of social networking. For me, it started with Bebo. All of my New Zealand friends had a Bebo account, and in order to keep up with their lives and growing families, I signed up. Then it moved to Myspace and now it is Facebook. I am a Twitter dabbler (I hate the word dabbler, really), but I am not committed. You could say I am just casually dating Twitter, and always have the breakup in the back of my mind. But these days, I am married to Facebook. I love it. And I am not here today to give you a sermon on the evils of social networking. But the photos. Oh the photos. My goodness at the photos.
Boys don't do it. Boys don't take fleshy pictures of themselves and post them on the internet for all 456 friends to see. If a boy posts a picture on Facebook, it is almost always for fun. Wrangled fish, funny signs, food, etc. Guys don't purposely take photographs of themselves for Facebook. They just don't. The majority of Facebook pictures come from the girls. Pictures of vacations and weddings and children and date nights. And I get it. I love pictures. I am the Facebook picture queen. I love my iphone and my photography apps. Love them. But almost daily I am shocked by the amount of cleavage and pregnant bellies and teeny tiny shorts that my eyes are exposed to. I don't go searching it out. I log into Facebook and there it is, right in the middle of my screen, photographs of people I know (and love) showing far more of themselves than should be seen by anyone other than a medical professional or a spouse. And there are two sides of me. The judgy side that wants to post "PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!" and the side that tries to reason it out, to blame the pictures on low self esteem or neediness. Maybe there should be another side to me, a side that doesn't care or think twice, but there isn't. That side does not exist. And so I am left with the dilemma of speaking up or keeping my mouth closed.
This is me speaking up. And in the interest of full disclosure, I hesitate to do it for fear of hurting feelings or fear that I have posted something less than appropriate at some point and someone is going to call me on it. I have decided that I am okay with that. I don't write this because I am perfect or have everything figured out or have always done the exact right thing. I am not, I don't, and I haven't. But almost all of my Facebook friends are Christians, and though I am certainly not wanting to let the religious pendulum swing to the side of legalism, I believe that we speak volumes about our spiritual life by how we present ourselves. Go ahead, gasp. Shake your head. Disagree if you like. We can disagree and still be friends. But first, please hear me out (unless you want to go back to watching Grey's Anatomy like I suggested before... seriously, last chance).
One of the benefits of our relationship with God is the unconditional approval and acceptance. When we are right in that relationship, we feel fulfilled and loved and validated, and we need those things. When we are struggling in our relationship with God (and we all do at times) we search to fill that legitimate need with the approval and acceptance of people. In today's culture, we do it in so many ways, with so many things. But you see it all the time.
Girl posts slightly scandalous photograph.
Female friend posts "Looking great!"
Male friend posts "Whoa. You are looking hot."
Female family member "You are so beautiful."
Girl posts the obligatory "Aw, thanks guys."
Girl feels validated. Filled.
Who needs God?
The scenario is most disturbing to me in two situations, the first being a young girl who doesn't know any better and whose parents do not stop it. The second is when it's a married woman who does know better. Either way, this is me, telling you that it's not okay. Not even a little.
So to my teenage girlfriends: Your body is probably in the best shape it will ever be. Take the time to be thankful for a great metabolism. You are adorable. You are young and social and you love boys, but when you post pictures of yourself in tiny little things, you present yourself as less valuable than you are. You make guys, young and old, think thoughts they shouldn't think. You would probably be horrified if you knew the effect that your pictures can have. Take pictures of yourself with your girlfriends, laughing and being silly. Go ahead, be young. Just make sure that you have proper clothes on. Not pajamas. Not short shorts and a bikini top. Real, actual clothes that cover you. Make sure your intentions are pure, and that you are not just seeking out the attention of guys. If you look especially nice, have one of your parents take your picture. I assure you that your pose for your dad holding the phone or camera will be way different than the bathroom mirror pose you do for the photo you take on your own. If you are feeling bad about yourself, pick up your Bible, read Psalm 139 and know that you have so much value to God. I love you, and I don't want to see you finding your worth in all the wrong things.
To my adult female friends: Please, please be careful. Think of the people that you affect when you post photographs where we can see down your shirt. Think of the boys and men who struggle with lust and work hard to keep their thoughts pure. You are making things difficult. I know we all want to feel beautiful, and some days that comes easier than others. Or maybe that's not it. Maybe you are proud of the hard work you have put into losing weight and keeping in shape, but please, be considerate of our husbands and fathers and brothers and sons. Please cover yourself.
So there it is. I warned you that you might not like it. Again, I don't even like it. A decent part of me wants to delete this post so that no one gets upset or offended. But like I said, my corner of the internet. My opinion. And since you've made it this far, thanks for being here. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. Now you may go back to Grey's.