June 2019 - In and Out

Dear friends

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter – the Internet's alternative to having hobbies or real friends? Depending on your generation, social media seems to be:

- Snapchat – something the youth are into, sharing unnecessary stuff with their friends;

- Facebook – what old people do (according to the aforementioned youth);

- or something akin to voodoo that is done by people who weren't around during the last war, as determined by those who were!

Social media has some great benefits, like the mass sharing of information (or the mass sharing of idiocies, depending which country one is currently president of), and for keeping in touch with old friends who you quite like to spy on, but have no inclination to meet again in person. One can keep up with social trends and cutting edge news, and reclaim any paucity of cat videos one may have in life. From van-to-campervan conversions (my current favourite) to crocheting tutorials (shoot me if you catch me), there is a veritable plethora of information and ideas floating around in the ether, just waiting for a home in your brain.

One thing that needs a touch of wariness in all this is the fact that when folk post snippets and snaps of their lives on the interwebthingy, what they post is generally the curated version they wish to display (unless they are steaming drunk, then it's definitely #nofilter!). If I look back over my own Facebook feed I could even begin to convince myself that a) I'm always on holiday, b) the sun is always shining, and c) I am always happy. Whereas a) I'm not, b) it isn't, and c) just no.

There is evidence that the more one looks at social media, the less happy one is. It creates a discontent and a perceived disparity between our lives and the lives of others, our happiness and the impression of perpetual joy experienced by our online friends. Perhaps the fundamental issue is that we are comparing our insides with other people's outsides. They post their best, and we feel our worst. They show photos of sun, sand and sangria, and we see it whilst sitting in our pyjamas, eating saturated fats, whilst it steadily rains on our Yorkshire paradise.

There is a lifetime's work to grow into the realisation that everyone around you is faking it to some extent or other; in discovering that the insides of all people largely resemble each other, as do their outsides. Only compare like for like. The precious child within is as beautiful and loveable as anyone else. And the show we put on for others is as much a dance of life and joy, fake news and subtle deception, whoever we are. Only as we grow into a kind of congruent authenticity, where the distance between outer and inner life begins to disappear, do we begin to fit our own skin and give ourselves a break from the pretence of perfection.

Nick Bird

Your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the June 2019 issue of The Grapevine