Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an economist who recently wrote the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. In this book, he points out some very interesting facts about our social media self versus our actual self.

For instance, in the real world, The National Enquirer sells three times as many copies as The Atlantic. However, on Facebook, The Atlantic is 45 times more popular. One can only assume we would rather lead our friends to believe we are reading about the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and not the latest spotting of Elvis and Bigfoot.

Or this: Americans spend about 6 times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing. But there are roughly twice as many tweets about golfing than doing the dishes.

Or this: The Las Vegas budget hotel Circus Circus and the luxurious Hotel Bellagio hold the same number of guests, yet online the Bellagio gets three times as many check-ins as Circus Circus.

Or this simple fact: owners of luxury cars are almost two and half times more likely to name their car on social media than those who own ordinary cars.

Social media has allowed us to grow what Thomas Merton so wisely called the false self; it’s the person that we want others to think we are. It’s a great deal of ego. It’s wanting to be seen in a certain way. It’s pride, power and possession.

Richard Rohr states, “your false self if how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union.”

The false self is dangerous and lonely. Merton cautioned us, “If we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it and that confusion reigns.”

And it’s so counter to the way of Jesus, which is about wholeness, bringing all of who you are, being true to your self, being honest about the messy parts, and learning that imperfect is not bad.

It’s coming home, wearing your scars on the outside, knowing the broken places, having dealt with regrets, knowing rock bottom and knowing who you are and knowing who you want to be. It’s owning the messy parts, and accepting the imperfect parts, and coming home because it’s on that walk when you hear the steps of a Father, the shout, “Slaughter the fattened calf, my child who was lost is now home!” …and the embrace that lasts a lifetime.

And that journey only happens when we live out of our true self. It’s the only way. 


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