I WAS BETTER BEFORE YOU: An Open Letter to Social Media

I realize you can’t respond, but nevertheless, this needs to be said:

I was better before you.

I noticed today all the ways that I have changed. Not the good kind of change with growth and joy on its heels, but the kind of change that makes you strain to remember how you used to be. I am not fully satisfied with what I see. I almost don’t remember an existence without you. On the cusp of adulthood I entered your web for the first time.

What we had at first was brilliant.
A fresh new way to connect with others. A way to unwind.
To do, see, and be a part of things I otherwise wouldn’t have.
What we had at first felt right.
But I’ve learned that you actually can have too much of a good thing.
And now I have shamefully realized that you are so much a part of my life, and the lives of others, that I fear one day I won’t be able to wiggle free.

So I need to put these words out there. And I need to reread them and be reminded that I was better before you.

Before you, I knew the dates of my friends birthdays. By heart. I gave them real hugs. I called them so they could hear the thankfulness in my voice when I said, “I’m so glad you were born.” Before you I learned about my friends and my family by being with them. I used to know about how they were feeling and what was happening in their lives because I asked them. I asked and then I listened to their stories. You may offer an easier way, but there will never be a better way.

Before you, I made a greater effort to see people. And I don’t mean stalking their profile to “get to know them”. I mean to really see them. As another person. For who they are. And who they want to be. I worked hard to connect. Not because everyone else was doing it, but because it’s how we were created, like puzzle pieces, made to click together and bring a better understanding of the more beautiful picture.

Before you, I craved knowledge. I sought it out. I sacrificed for it.
I even paid for it. Now I find myself waiting for whatever falls in my lap or my palm and I take it as my dose for the day. Your constant presence has lessened my hunger to learn something worthwhile.

Before you, I had more creative thoughts. And when I had them I didn’t instantaneously wonder if someone more skilled or more popular than me had already had the same thought. Before you were on the scene I thought in waves of realization and wonder, not in tweets or posts. I was happy to save some for myself, not in selfishness, but because not everything needs to be shared.

Before you, my thoughts were just that – thoughts that came with me attached. The only way I shared my thoughts or opinions was by making a connection with someone so that my words were backed up by relationship.
By accountability. By hearing their story. By a give and take that left room for conversation and forgiveness. I didn’t hide behind my screen when I shared my beliefs. I spoke them. Boldly. With love. My proclamations were backed up by connection. I spoke with those who believed exactly what I did and I learned from those who were nothing like me. And there was no hiding. No assuming tones. No sarcastic remarks. There was only understanding. And love. And honest conversations.

Before you, I saw a world who was much better at learning about others before speaking against them. Why do we try and fight an opponent that we haven’t even gotten to know? Because of you I fight daily to remember that while no one is required to believe exactly what I believe, I am still required to show love and light in a society afflicted with such judgement and hate.

Before you, I backed up my words with action. Instead of posting and sharing my every idea and opinion I made an effort to move. If I saw a problem, instead of complaining about it and inviting others to join me, I did the best I could to help right a wrong. If I saw injustice or hurt, instead of writing about it, I looked for a way to ease the pain. I prayed more than I posted. And I acted more than I offered my opinion. Actions speak louder than words.

Before you, I was more content. Unconcerned with what others were doing, wearing, or buying. Your company has made me whip out measuring sticks and start comparing beauty, talent, worth, souls – things that are beyond measuring. The constant images that I let you parade before my eyes have started to turn my content heart to an envious one. I find myself aching for things that I don’t have and truly have no need for. I catch myself looking into the window of another person’s life and turning green. Being told who everyone else is and who I’m not has often made me wish I could trade my beautiful life for a counterfeit made only of pixels. I fear the green-eyed monster has started to rot my bones and I crave the way I was before you came.

Before you, I knew my worth. My soul shouted a constant reminder that I was relevant and important and had something worth saying. Before you, I didn’t measure importance in likes or shares or even by friends. The reality of what I once knew still lingers, but I see now that you’ve crept your way in. I suppose I can’t say that you crept. The truth is I sent you an invitation and opened wide the door to my life. You waltzed..that’s it. You waltzed in and made me question what I have to say. Made me question how I am measured as a strong woman, as a leader, as a creative. You have made me strive to tweet or post as much as my peers so that I could feel relevant. But I remember that worth is not in what you do, but in who you are.

I believe we were all better before you.
Before posts, and shares, and likes, and hashtags.
We were active, connected, hungry,
content, compassionate. 

I realized all of this today.
But then I realized that none of this is your fault.

I am the one who has allowed myself to be ruled by mere characters on a page and pictures in a gallery.
I am the only one responsible for this person I’ve become, and for the loss of the person I used to be.

I was better before you. And I thought that you owed me an apology for that.
But I see now that it’s me who owes you an apology.
So to you I say, “I’m sorry“:
I’m sorry for giving you more credit than you ever deserved.
I don’t need you as much as you’ve made me think I do.

I’m sorry for letting you take me places I never wanted to go.
There was a line and I clearly crossed it.

I’m sorry for diving into you too hard, for too long, for all the wrong reasons.
You were never supposed to be such a significant part of life.

I’m sorry for rationalizing the effect you’ve had on my heart.
I made up excuses for the numbness I’ve let you cause.

I’m sorry that you’ll never know the brave beauty of how I look, act, feel and love when I am the person I used to be.

Soon, I will be a stranger to you.
Because I will be that person again.
And it won’t be because of you, or what you offer.
It will be because of me.

I was better before you and you better believe I’ll be even better after you. 

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