Learning Not to Share
From the time we were toddlers, our parents, teachers, grandparents, and any other choice adults have pushed the concept of the importance of sharing. “Sharing is caring” and other catchy phrases have inundated our vocabularies since before we could walk. Sharing is so important, but allow me to spin your worldview just a bit. Picture a society where in some instances we did not share. How beautiful life would be if sometimes we just kept some things all to ourselves.
This is almost oxymoronic to say since it is making its presence on the web, but take a step back and view this in light of how simple things used to be. I’m trying to remember what life was like before smartphones, social media, and filters. I remember it was good. I remember I didn’t worry, even at a young age, what someone else was doing or how their “perfect life” was going. I remember people didn’t share and spread bad news as quickly, and even though there were still problems going on everywhere—some bigger than what we see today—people weren’t as anxious or worried about it because it wasn’t as readily accessible.
Even before my generation, people rejoiced with friends who got married but didn’t worry about the perfect angles or how outlandish the event was. Though I’m sure the disconnected days came with their own set of woes on a different level, they didn’t try to one-up each other or feel insecure that their lives weren’t as good as what was displayed. I’m not really old enough to rightfully use the “I remember when” phrase, but to an extent, I do. I was a child and I experienced that childhood the way I knew how, disconnected and dependent. I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have an iPad. We had my cousin’s desktop where we didn’t access MySpace or AOL Instant Messenger unless we were supervised.
I played with my friends, and with Barbies and Polly pockets. We played dress-up and pretend and had the time of our lives with Easy Bake Oven recipes that probably tasted like dog food. We didn’t stress as much about what we looked like because it didn’t matter. Part of that was childhood innocence and part of it was because we weren’t living life through a lens or a screen.
I have heard elders and even other adults not much older than me tell their stories of letters to their significant others, getting engaged without the world knowing about it minutes later, having a small wedding without all the flashy details because it was just love, and that was fancy enough. In my eyes, they’re the real winners. And those who don’t depend on social media for affirmation or satisfaction are a close second.
Don’t get me wrong, I share and post just like many others, but over the past few months I’ve been realizing that none of that is necessary to understand what a great life I have. We are instantly gratified when someone likes our photos. We are eager to share, sometimes for attention, sometimes not. I’m working hard to understand the purpose behind it and find the healthy balance in it all. I’m doing my best to share the good things and sometimes the really hard things because they mean something to me. But it’s not because I want to see how many likes I can get or how to please everyone around me with the perfect shot of my lunch or myself reading a book. Life is beautiful and it is fragile.
If you have something worth sharing, share it, but do it for the right reasons. Do it to encourage, to brighten someone’s day. Do it to let someone know how good God is, even in the hard stuff. Do it to help someone else or to update your far away friends and family on big events in your life.
Our social media presence and availability are both an advantage and a disadvantage. We can easily communicate and keep in touch with loved ones. We can almost instantly see how things are somewhere across the world. This is also the disadvantage. Good things take time. Patience teaches us a lot and so does satisfaction in your own skin. When you aren’t comparing yourself to your friends, celebrities, or a fitness page, you have a better chance of being the YOU you’re created to be. All the sharing and the comments are not bad but it’s not what defines you.
Some days are simple. Other seasons and days you don’t do your hair, or your car breaks down, or you get a bad grade, or someone breaks your heart. Some nights are long spent in hospital rooms or rehab centers with ones you love deeply. There are weeks that feel like they drag by and years that are gone before you can blink. Every moment means something and should not be take for granted. It isn’t about “keeping up with the Joneses” or how much you want your life to be like the royal couples or your friend living abroad. You are unique and your story goes beyond your allotted seconds on Instagram or Snapchat. How much of our days are spent scrolling through other people’s lives and not being present enough in our own?
You will still see me posting about what matters to me and about how much I love my husband, family, our adventures, and the goodness of God. I will still be sharing the things I feel are important and even the not so dazzling moments, but there will also be times I am unplugged and connected to what I cannot put a filter on. Some memories are ones the world will never see but are dearest to my heart. They are ones I will unselfishly keep between those who are in the photos and those present in the sweet moments.
I still take photographs to remember and look back on. I have so many scrapbooks and albums full of these printed flashbacks that bring nostalgia and a smile. I love rejoicing with others and being there for them when they are hurting. This is one way social media connects us, but I have also had to shut it down at times because of all the negativity and disunity I often see. It is honestly so hard to put all this into words because even though there is bad, there is still a lot of good that comes from it.
I said all that to simply say remember your value and remember, if it is worth sharing, let it be seen and heard. But make sure your motives are where they belong. It’s not in how many likes you can get or the best filter to change the photo you take. Don’t let it steal your time or your availability to what and who really mean the most. Let the filters down sometimes. Share the real. Share the beautiful. Share whatsoever things are lovely and share your story that’s worth telling, but don’t let it consume you.
Aside from that, choose some things not to share; those special, irreplaceable times that belong only to you and the ones you hold dear. Be present. Be content in whatever situation you find yourself, and don’t be so hard on yourself when it doesn’t seem as glamorous or photogenic as the lives you see on your phone screen. YOUR life is beautiful and you never know what goes on off camera. Nothing is more beautiful and likable to me than unadulterated goodness and honesty. Life isn’t always as perfect as we display, but maybe that’s the point: there’s beauty in simplicity and in adventure; and beauty in love and watching someone’s children grow or sharing your momma’s health reports. There is goodness in simple wedding day photos and priceless memories with grandparents who have gained their wings.
As children we are taught to share, but maybe as young adults we should learn the boundaries and make sure it is edifying and worth our time and effort. Sometimes learning what not to share is the greatest lesson we can learn.
Rachel Skirvin is a lover of travel, nachos and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She just recently married her best friend and together they are serving at the Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.