Since launching this “Project Simplicity” series, minimalism and simplifying has gone totally mainstream. Awesome. We are all realizing that enough is enough! Life is better without the clutter.
There is one thing that fills up our lives with more clutter and unnecessary “stuff” than anything else; one thing that can completely rob us of our joy: our mouth.
By “mouth”, I mean all of our communication, the way we communicate, and the amount of ways we communicate with the rest of the world.
The power of “Publish”
I recently read an article about minimalism where the author said he deleted all social media because if what he had to say was really worth sharing with the world, then professionals would publish it. What a striking contrast to the world we live in.
We live in a world where every freaking thought, photo, frustration, whim, meal, poopy diaper and marital disagreement is published. We read similarly unedited comments published by complete strangers. We then publish more of our junk and the cycle continues.
Social media quite possibly creates more unnecessary clutter in our lives than anything else.
Lately when I check in on social media and scroll for only a couple swipes, I realize I’ve just flooded my mind and soul with SO MUCH INFORMATION! I seriously don’t think humans are meant to take in so much from other people’s lives. It’s completely unnatural.
Social media has hijacked the way we interact with others. Some people say it’s the new norm and makes life easier to stay connected. I would say it’s ruining humanity.
People say they “need” social media to stay in touch with their loved ones. Really? Loved ones can text and call often, sending photos or making shared iphoto albums.
I’ve concluded that social media has cheapened our sincerity and caused most of our relationships to become less engaged, less caring, less loving, less present and less REAL.
Through social media we have “relationships” with people we barely know or who are complete strangers, knowing intimate details about their life. We keep the same amount of interest in our best friends’ lives as we do with that person we met during that audition for that play in high school…that we never really talked to again.
Social media is causing serious damage, too. Anxiety, depression, suicide, mental displacement, discontentment, comparison and overall unhappiness seems to be linked to social media in a growing amount of research.
Yes, social media can be used for good, but is it really worth the bad?
And then I was hacked…
I woke up one morning and checked Instagram. An hour later I checked again and couldn’t log in. I soon discovered my username was changed and the “lost password” option sent the reset link to a strange Russian email address.
Long story, short: I was hacked and completely locked out of my account. It took Instagram 2 1/2 weeks to get me back into my account. In the meantime a pornographic gif was posted for all my followers to see. My username was taken by a new Instagram user and I had to create a new one (even though I own the trademark on the name Real Food Family for all digital health-related content).
When I got back on, I posted what had happened but have only logged in once or twice since. I don’t miss it. I’ve also taken social media apps off my phone, so I only check it when I log in on my computer. Even when I do this, I’m amazed at how much of a waste of time it is.
It’s not just social media.
I would hypothesize that the age of social media has caused our culture, as a whole, to totally lose diplomacy and respect for each other. Whether it’s actually the fault of social media or just a natural cultural shift, the message is clear:
We need an edit button.
We need to stop before we go on offense or defense.
We need to stop before we engage in a war of words, even a “polite” exchange.
We need to stop and think about how our words and choices will impact others.
We need to stop and show forgiveness and grace instead of insult and accusation.
It used to be that every once in a while you’d have a frustrating experience with someone…a rude person at the market, etc., that said or did something shockingly rude. It totally ruined your day. You couldn’t get over it and you spent the rest of the day going over what happened, thinking of brilliant things you could have said or done. Fortunately, because you naturally have an “edit” button when you’re with other people in public, you never got the chance to say the brilliantly nasty thing back and you were forced to move on in life. And you did.
Nowadays we have these experiences EVERY day, multiple times a day, via social media posts, comments, reading or watching the news, blog comments, group emails, etc.
We flood our minds with highly opinionated information, we engage in back-and-forth debates and we let ourselves dwell in a cesspool of all of our human stink. We are so addicted to it all that we continue to go back, nurturing the very activities that are slowly taking over and destroying our lives. (And the scary part is, social media is delicately designed at a highly technical level to keep you
involved in addicted to this behavior.)
Then we wonder why we are so unhappy, anxious, and disconnected.
Spend time with people, and be quiet.
Clearly, I don’t like social media anymore, but deleting it all may not be something you feel you need to do. As I write this, I haven’t even deleted my social media accounts…but I’m pretty sure I’m going to when the time feels right. (I would be deleting thousands of “followers” that rely on my social media posts for updates. To keep following us, join the email list.)
To offset the negative impact our “digital relationship” culture has created, we need to spend more time with real people. We need to have heart to heart conversations and do activities together. We need to plan for social activities and make an effort to be with friends who lift us up, encourage us and “sharpen” us when we are going off track.
We also need to be quiet. (Red and Yellow temperaments out there, I’m talking to you!)
A wonderful thing I recently learned (from this fabulous new book) is that the word LISTEN has the same letters as SILENT.
When we are with people, we must take time to listen instead of formulating our next words. If we are present for people, they will be present for us.
Bring on the joy!!!
Create your edit button
Know your escape plan for the situations you know cause your mouth get away from you. Pour your time and focus into the things that make you the best version of yourself. Don’t allow into your life the things that bring out the worst in you (toxic relationships, conversations, locations- physical or online).
If you aren’t ready to edit out social media and digital communication completely, consider not commenting or reading comments anymore. That comment section can be a dark hole.
(Of course you can comment on this post, but I’ve even thought about deleting blog comments. I’d rather just get an email from you if you wanted to chat. It’s a horrible day when I have to read and delete a cruel or profane comment from someone. But sometimes the good comments are worth the encouragement they bring me, and they help other readers.)
Finally, from a spiritual perspective, I try to apply all of this to my relationship with God and my fellowship with others. Sincerity is so easily lost these days and despair ensues because we don’t maintain deep, meaningful relationships. Nurture your relationships with God and others. Love and listen with all your heart.
Here are some of my favorite quotes and verses to take away:
“THINK before you speak. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?” -Alan Redpath
For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 1 Peter 3:10
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. Proverbs 10:19
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:11
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:27-28
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18