You may not have noticed my absence. In the last six months or so I’ve been mostly off Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and the like, unwilling to support their ever more apparent and pestilent dark side. It was a huge relief once I’d fully detox’d and wasn’t worrying about what I might be missing (only to look and find the link and meme encrusted feeds having reached new lows in signal to noise and civil discourse to polarization ratios).
But the passage of time time relentlessly changes us all. Free willed or not, accepting or not, we are made different as we are carried along by time. We are like stones in a river bed, polished without willing it by flowing experience, by our very presence or lack of it. So it was with me and the evil phenom known as social media.
The relief of absence faded and as that epic feeling receded, other impulses emerged. First and most surprising was a nagging sense of duty ignored, of training and legacy squandered. From my Mennonite parents mostly I have been given a strong sense of missionary duty to the suffering world, and hooboy, if ever there was a suffering world it is the world of social media.
But duty wasn’t enough. As my friends will no doubt tell you, while I may have a deep sense of duty, the engines of duty fulfilled, discipline and consistency, are much more sparsely cultivated in my life. I’ve spent the last three months or so in juicy rationalization, pro-level procrastination, and just out right denial, duty seen but avoided.
So what did bring me back? What has me once again stepping across the threshold into this sturm und drang that is social media? I am not entirely sure, but I know what I hope it is. I hope it is love. Surely a love for the scattered friends and family that I contact most commonly here, but also for the chance to testify to the fierce beauties of reality that persist, persist despite all the intentional and unintentional ugliness we are so efficient at generating. I hope it is the love the better angels of this life can inspire, the love evoked by all the grace and gentleness available to us even in and amongst their most strident opposites.
So I’m back. Not for being in the know about all the latest urgent evaporations, not for the links and memes and brutal abbreviations, not to take a position on the front lines of the various culture wars. But back for and with the love.
Here, then, a romantic’s first offering on my provisional alter to transcendent love, an aspiration beyond the systemic sacrilege that is most of social media, love fed by hope for nothing less than its miraculous redemption, God’s fool that I am.
from Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River.
Real miracles bother people…They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in… People fear miracles because they fear being changed—though ignoring them will change you also… No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.