Recently, the internet feels like a really big crowded room where everyone is shouting. “This is what I think!” “You’re wrong!” “How can you think that way?!” “What are we going to do?!” “What are you so worried about?!” “How are you not worried?! This is a disaster!”
Social media used to feel like a high school reunion where we all showed up well-dressed, trying to present our best selves, listing our accomplishments, passing around photos of our ridiculously adorable children, and making sure our lives looked fantastic.
It has felt more like a family reunion gone wrong in the last few weeks. All of the pleasantries have been thrown out the window. Filters are gone, everyone is talking at once, and no one is really listening anymore. As a matter of fact, everyone is just ready to go home and not speak again for six months… or ever again.
There’s no doubt that the issues being discussed are important. They’re very important. It’s why we’re so passionate about them. Refugees, women’s rights, abortion, religious profiling, giant walls, executive orders… these aren’t small issues. They’re important.
But do you know what they’re talking about in my tiny town right now? There’s a sign on Main Street that says there will be a men’s pancake dinner on Groundhog Day with admission by donation. That’s the big news here. That’s what made the sign.
When I’m online, the world is ending and there are scary things happening, and everyone is upset and angry and ready to fight for justice. And when I’m driving down Main Street? Pancakes.
Does that mean all of those directly impacted by the bigger issues don’t matter? No. Does that mean we are ignoring the bigger issues in our tiny town? No. Absolutely not.
But that regular old sign reveals a powerful truth. It shows that in the middle of everything else happening – there are still communities living life alongside each other.
I think we forget that online sometimes. We forget the power of remembering community… and I don’t mean online community.
Lean in close, friend. There’s something we need address if we’re going to keep arguing and choosing sides online. Ready?
While the internet is wonderful for sharing information far and wide, we have to remember that minds aren’t often changed by an argument in a comment section. I don’t know anyone that has said, “Wow, random acquaintance on Facebook. I’m so glad you said this. I will now change my 35 years of thinking because of your 40 word comment.” Ya know? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m just saying… It’s probably not the norm.
Our hearts are more likely understood in face to face conversations with people we know. And if we believe passionately about all of those big issues, we might need to remember the importance of those face to face interactions. We might need to use the power of our authentic relationships where we can take the time to discuss the deeper issues and work together to hear each other out.
So, Becky, are you saying we should stop posting about all of these major issues online? Is that what you’re saying? Because I think these things deserve attention, and if we don’t talk about them, it’s like we’re ignoring them. I cannot be a part of the silence.
I’m not asking you to. I’m not saying we need to stop talking online about what’s going on. What I am saying is that we need to remember there will always be a difference between online community and the community outside our front door.
Look, I know how I feel… and maybe how you feel this way too. I know that you’re probably mad and sad. I know you feel small in the middle of huge issues. I know you wonder how we’re all going to get on the same page… and I know you might have felt a little bit like, “I’m going to just log off and come back when everyone hasn’t lost their ever-lovin’ minds.” I get it. Really. I think many of us feel that way right now.
But what are we going to do about it? How are we going to start to hear each other? How are we going to make any progress in the middle of all of this noise online?
We’re going to go eat pancakes. (Well… I’m not but the men in my town are.) So… figuratively we’re all going to go eat pancakes.
We’re going to deepen relationships within our communities, neighborhoods, and families, realizing that these are the places where change takes places. These are the places where we are known and heard and understood. These are the places where we are more likely to come together and bring change.
It’s a simple concept. More pancakes. Less internet politics. More face to face interactions. Less online noise. But it might just be crazy enough to change the world.