Unplugged – Update.

It’s been a week since I “deleted” my social media presence. I’ve still got what… another 23 days before the platforms actually “delete” my data. I use quotes there because nothing online is ever really deleted for good. My posts, my photos, 10 years of oversharing – it is always out there. Heck – this very blog. I could “delete” it today and it will live on for decades.

In the past week I’ve found alternate ways to communicate with people. Reverting to text messages, apps like WhatsApp (ironically owned by Facebook), Discord, phone calls, and ~gasp~ in person.

This detox has made me think though, really think.

I had 300 Facebook “friends.” On any given day I’d get updates on them. Over the past week I’ve been in touch with 5% of them. That doesn’t include the folks I interact with in person on a daily basis through the Polish Legion of American Veterans next door, or via a daily chatroom run by one of my oldest friends.

So then 95% of the people I paid attention to every day – I have absolutely no clue what is going on with them. Nobody reaching out via alternate means to see where I went. I had shared a story (which I can’t find) but this one is close: Research Confirms That No One Is Really Thinking About You. Who was I trying to impress? Why did I need validation?

Facebook and Instagram, among other online social media outlets – provide a highly cultivated and filtered view of other peoples lives. Generally speaking we only see what they want us to see, and we only share what we want to share. The other 99% of our lives, the grit, the pain, even the joy – is just for ourselves. All we show is what we think will get us liked. Validated.

Then there’s the news. Oh Lord, the news.

Doom. Gloom. Division. Revision. Arguments. Stress. Anxiety. Buy my book! Wear this hat! You can’t say that! Why’d you say that? What’d I say? Invest in gold! Eat Kale! The world is flat! The world is round! Check out my abs! Drink this! Eat that! Don’t eat that! Wear a mask! Lick doorknobs! Pound salt! Who cares?!

My father nearly died this week. Today he called and asked me to make calamari salad and linguine with pesto sauce for Thanksgiving.

Today he called me.

Thank God.

When I stop focusing on what doesn’t matter, I can actually see what does. Friends, family, neighbors, loved ones. Stepping away from the flood of manipulation and filtered lives clears the fog away from the life I am currently LIVING.

The other night, I air fried a porterhouse steak. It was an experiment to see if I could. Last week? I’d have taken 10 photos of that steak before I even tasted it. Then I’d spend a few more minutes adjusting the contrast and saturation before sharing it to Instagram and Facebook. Then as I ate the steak, I’d wait for the telltale sound that someone clicked “like.”

I was so focused on the approval of others that I couldn’t focus on my dinner. It was delicious BTW. I’ll probably do it again tonight. Seriously, 4 minutes a side at 392 after rubbing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Now if I want to share a meal, I cook for someone.

Like my Dad.

I don’t care if 300 people don’t see the photographic proof. Neither should you. It’s great to share what I love with those I love. Anything else is noise and a cry for validation that turns us from the way, the truth, and the life that Jesus has laid out for us.

Unplug. You don’t know what you’re missing.

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