One of my enduring fantasies as a small girl was that I was a Middle Eastern princess in an exotic land with a furry, friendly, enormous tiger. It is possible that this fantasy evolved after watching “Aladdin,” but I cannot remember. A unique facet of this dream was that my life was televised for all to see, almost every part of it. People all around the world could watch my tiger princess life. I used to wander around our house in Lipa, Philippines lost in my own little world where the tiger and I pranced around with no boundaries and had servants for my every whim.
There is something a little cringe-worthy about sharing these details about my childhood brain, but I remember that girl from over two decades ago, and I remember her heart – she wanted to be loved, she wanted to be known, she wanted people to see her.
Years later after watching “The Truman Show” I remember thinking that my childhood brain had invented a movie idea, I just didn’t know it at the time. Then came reality television, and we adored the first seasons of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” University introduced me to TLC and “Trading Spaces.” I would buy a box set of the Paige cum Ty Pennington seasons any day. I haven’t watched TV in a few years, so I don’t know what’s out there anymore, but I’m told that reality TV is still a big deal. Or at least “The Bachelor” is still going strong.
Television has its reality TV stars, but we are each our own stars in the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs. Our clever statements, photos of our children doing cute things, statements about how much we love our spouses (or how much they love us), our accomplishments and failures, opinions about hot button political topics, statements about other people’s opinions about hot button political topics, photos of our messy houses as proof that We Don’t Have It All Together, the Hot Couple pic (taken during an anniversary celebration), before and after photos of houses, and really I could go on and on.
The truth is all of us want to be known, we all want to be seen and noticed and social media provides a vehicle for even the most mundane details of our lives to feel and seem significant. Because we want to be significant.
The pull to broadcast my life on this blog and on Facebook (I don’t “do” Twitter and Instagram) has never been stronger than in the past few years of my life. Why? It’s simple. At most stages of my life, I was surrounded by a meaningful, strong community of people. There was always plenty of dysfunction, but the process of knowing and being known by others was there, ongoing, and it was good. Relationships with healthy people bring life to us, and dear friends have a way of making us feel valued and significant.
Moving to Geneva found me for the first time in my adult life without a real community of people; it took me a long time to realize this, and an even longer time to make peace with reality. I have never felt more deeply insignificant or more deeply unknown. The pull to re-create the communities of my past via a Facebook world was strong. Thank God for Husband who is a private man and who regularly asks me, Do you really want everyone to read that? See that? Just remember, Devi, anything you put on the Internet, even a private Facebook account, can be accessed by people you don’t know.
Husband values privacy, and so we hardly put photos of Small One for Facebook to see, and I do not put Small One’s face on this blog on purpose. It means I run sensitive posts about us and our family by him for his thoughts and comments, and it means very, very few photographs and status updates about our family.
And in the process of weaning myself from having a public face on social media, the discovery that I don’t need compliments on a cute outfit, that my child’s accomplishments don’t need to be on display for anyone, that my appreciation for my husband is not always for public consumption, I discover some deeper truths – my life does not need to be known to anyone for it to be significant. My significance, your significance, comes from identity – created in the image of God, rescued from a dominion of darkness by a Great Rescuer, loved eternally by Jesus who gave everything for me. For you.
We are significant in ways we could never ask, hope or imagine.