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Logged-In

Dear Social Media,

I was caught into your trap before I realized it. In fact, my mind was sucked into your world back when I was young. I won't forget.

It started with a movie. "The Parent Trap," the one with Lindsey Lohan. I remember thinking the evil woman who wanted to marry the dad for his money was beautiful.

Ironic, right? But it was true. She had blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She was tall, and had a perfect figure. I looked at her, then I looked at myself. I was brown-all-around: brown eyes, brown hair, brown skin. For some reason, seeing this movie caused me to notice myself more. It was just a start. It didn't consume my mind, but it opened my eyes.

In middle school, self-consciousness became more apparent. Braces+new glasses= double whammy. My best friend wore cute flats and fun tops and short skirts. I wore T-shirts and jeans and tennis shoes. Her hair was long and straight. My hair was above the shoulders and tight curly. She had blue-green eyes. I had brown eyes. She had boyfriends. I did not.
My best friend introduced me to the world known as SHOPPING. That's when I discovered the magazines. I flipped pages. I noticed clothes. I noticed advertisements. I noticed the "Ins" and the "Outs." I was introduced to mascara and foundation.
You made me feel like I needed these things to be beautiful.
I bought into it.

High School came along. Technology began to develop more efficiently, and with that, your influence. Now there was more texting, and more online entertainment. Facebook developed to keep in contact with people. YouTube developed for entertainment and learning. I was hooked to both.
I got on because you convinced me.

Then, it was pictures. So many pictures. So many perfections. So many things to catch up on, so many things to become equal to.
Pictures.
Challenges.
Quizzes.
Advertisements.
Selfies.
Haircuts.
Weight loss.
Weight gain.
Makeup.
Sexiness.
Beauty.
Ins.
Outs.
Development.
Memes.
Politics.
Comparisons.
So many comparisons.

And the more I looked, the more I wanted. The more I wanted, the less I loved what I had. The less I loved what I had, the less I lived in my world. The less I lived in my world, the more I was sucked into your world of unrealistic, un-achievable, perfect world. The more I was sucked into your world, the less I loved my own world. My real world. My beautiful world.
I was never enough. Not tall enough. Not shaped-up enough. Not angular enough. Not bold enough. Not quiet enough. Not white enough. Not brown enough. Not talented enough. Not brave enough. Not enough.
It consumed me.

Dear Social Media,

No matter where I am at or who I am with, I suppose I'm supposed to take a picture.
No. I'm not expected to. I just feel inclined to.
I snap a selfie and expose myself to millions of people all around the world, where anyone and everyone can judge me.
I take pictures of my husband, and say #besthusbandever as if the world needs to know, as if the world is the source of approval, as if a LIKE is code for "I APPROVE OF THIS PICTURE." And if no one LIKES my picture, there is something wrong.
I take a picture, and you say, "Let everyone know your location!" No privacy anymore. And I became okay with that.
I take picture of food now. FOOD!
For approval??  


Dear Social Media,

The first thing I do when I wake up is get on my phone and log myself into your world. My husband lay next to me, waiting for me to get off, and checks his own phone.
Throughout the day, when I am tired of my world, I log into an unrealistic world to make sure I haven't missed anything.
I am on autopilot. I am logged in before I realize that I am logging in.
My husband is talking to me, and my eyes on looking at your world. My ears hear him, but my mind is on you.
I am talking to my husband, and his eyes are on his phone. While he's doing that, I decide I might as well log-in again.
I'm with my best friends, and we sit on the couch next to each other, individual screens up close in our faces, texting friends who are not with us, checking Facebook statuses of friends who are not with us, not fully allowing us to enjoy the company that is in the same room.
I'm with family members. We watch YouTube videos for fun and entertainment, instead of going outside to enjoy the sun and converse with each other.
You are everywhere.

And it's ridiculous.
I don't want to keep up with it anymore. I don't want to be logged-in.

It was never about me, about how I feel, about making me feel good. It was about your growth and expansion, all the while tearing into me, changing me, adjusting me to what you believe is good, what you believe in appropriate, what you believe is perfect.

You're always changing, and becoming so far from realism that it is impossible for me to catch up.

 
Dear Social Media,

It's time for a break. I will not waste my time anymore.

You'll keep growing and progressing rapidly. You'll continue to be updated.

I'll keep growing and progressing at my own pace. I'll discover my own life and beauty.

Sincerely,
Jens  

Comments

  1. Dear Jensen:

    I am not normally at home, in front of a computer at this time of the morning. I'd set out on my bicycle for the CrossFit gym and then onto work at the middle school where I teach 7th grade math in Hayward, California, but I realized only partway to the gym that I'd forgotten my keys and returned home, only to be told by my wife about your story on LDS Living.

    My eldest daughter, Lee Ann, just passed her one-year mark on her mission in Southern California. Of our three daughters, we expect Lee Ann to be the only one who will serve a mission. I wept, and I am weeping now, at having read your story, such has been the overwhelming emotional reaction that I have felt.

    We have enjoyed, for many years, the presence of missionaries in our home, as long as we have had children (Lee Ann just turned 20.), and we have enjoyed some profoundly spiritual moments with the missionaries in our home. Peg and I are both converts, having been found, taught and baptized together literally immediately following our being married 27 years ago. We have known with a surety that missionaries are having experiences in our home that will be indelible in their memories of their missionary service. I feel certain that families in Ian's mission are providing him with a setting even now that is strengthening him and healing him. Being around these families may well be what called him back to the mission field.

    You are a beautiful, eternal family. I suspect and expect that as you and Ian continue with your lives and enjoy a bond that few siblings in mortal life will enjoy, and as you and he marry and begin your own families, that there will be an unparalleled strength and source of healing and an opportunity to achieve things as you remember your parents and your younger brothers, that others simply could not.

    Peg's and my relationship with the gospel I would not call necessarily normal nor typical. As California converts and public school educators, we tend to have a more liberal social view of things. But I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is where I want to belong and not knowing you at all, I know that I can testify to you of the love that your parents have for all four of their beautiful children.

    Thank you for allowing me to weep today and to share your burden with you and Ian. I wish you and Ian the best.

    Matt & Peggy Shaffer
    San Leandro California Stake
    Castro Valley, Ca.

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