In the Part I, I introduced this realization I had about our purpose—God’s will for our lives is to live out gratitude. In this second part, I explore challenges of living gratitude with the onslaught of mass and social media.
Typically around November, we see more writings about gratitude because in the United States, Thanksgiving is a commonly celebrated holiday. Gratitude is more than a holiday. We were created to make thanksgiving a lifestyle, not a multiple day glut-fest. (Pass the sweet potato pie, and why does green bean casserole still exist? When I get to heaven, God gots some ‘splaining to do.)
Manipulated Out of Gratitude
Commercials, news, and trends point to something is wrong with you.
I am pro-marketing and sells. I think there are plenty of products and services available to solve our problems. Marketing helps get the word out to us for solutions.
When we constantly take in messages without much critical thought, we can begin to have a skewed vision of what we really need and want.
We shift from gratitude and getting solutions to a problem to creating new problems from our feelings of lack.
Have you ever met someone who is manipulative? When in action, these individuals can use their influence to get the results they want from individuals to groups of people. Now, if a person can manipulate one or groups of people, do you think it is possible for some of us to learn the psychology of what make folks tick, across demographics and use this information to get a particular result.? I think so. Certain marketing efforts play up or play into our pain points or create ones we didn’t know we had. We could be sitting in our favorite chair after a long day. We turn on the television and begin wondering—
If our childhood home might lead to us to developing mesothelioma in the future,
If a heart healthy whole grain potato chip is what is missing from our diet,
If we are a bad parent because we do not include this new organic, nongmo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and fat-free snack in their lunches,
Why is a celebrity endorsing this new medication, when the side effects sound Gawd-awful,
And if this new skin cream will reduce the signs of aging in 6-8 weeks like the ones in the other commercials.
This montage of woes happen within five minutes of watching a program.
So much for relaxation.
Again, a commercial can point to a product or service that could be the answer to your question. Or it could help you think about some issues you have not considered attending to. When we unquestioningly take in all of these messages, we can get out of gratitude into the land of escapism, comparison, and lack. We can think that something is inherently wrong with us and we need a particular product to make us right. And when this scenario is the case, we consume more to fill these voids where we kicked out gratitude. Retail therapy, anyone?
If you live and work in ways that benefit the world in any form, then please question messages suggesting that your contribution is not enough. Most importantly, do not shame yourself, thinking that somehow you are lacking.
Social Media Manipulation 2.0
With the proliferation of digital technologies, some of us can internalize images and stories from social media as lessons in our inferiority. For instance, look at the influence on intimate relationships. Once, I spoke with someone who compared her marriage to someone else’s social media portrayal of her marriage. This individual complained about her relationship and talked about how this person’s was better, using social media posts as her evidence. Like me, you might have asked, “How in the world are you going to compare your relationship to what someone puts online?”
People are comparing at this very moment.
The woman preferred to escape into someone else’s world, thinking their relationship was better. If you want to see stellar acting, watch a married couple who had an unresolved fight before a church service on a Sunday morning. You will see smiles, laughs, and hallelujah shouts of joy, as if everything was easy-peasy.
Recently, when my husband and I went out, on our way to the venue, we had a disagreement walking from the parking lot. Granted, we were not acting loud, crazy, and making a scene. But, as we talked, walked, and held hands, if one looked close enough, it was clear we were not laughing and skipping.
Maybe we can consider taking an acting class for a date.
Considering the research about people incessantly posting pictures about their relationships as a sign of insecurity or the ways this practice cause problems in relationships, are we supposed to somehow believe that nothing says love like flooding social media with relationship selfies? Instead of putting the energy and time to actually work on our relationships, we can get stuck in comparing, which can cause even more relationship problems. There are studies about it, as well. I am sure there are plenty of women and men who wish they had a marriage to complain about. Other than extreme cases, if we have an attitude of gratitude, we can see the goodness in our significant others and think of ways we can shift and change to help create the relationships and lives we want.
This comparing goes beyond relationships with others to our relationship with how we see ourselves. I have come across multiple articles where a woman mentions unfollowing a person on social media because she feels insecure looking at this individual’s physique. I find this practice a bit problematic because it is a bandage to a deeper wound. I do think there are people who intentionally craft social media images to invoke jealousy. Aside from these toxic individuals, I think whenever we feel insecurities rising up within us from simply looking at another person’s appearance, that we embrace the situation. Instead of unfollowing every perceived pretty face on social media to keep our confidence, we can look for ways to express gratitude for them. We can ask God for grace, as we use it as an opportunity to be able to love and appreciate our own beauty without comparison to others. Gratitude helps us to see images and hold them in there rightful place and not as a measurement of our worth. We can move from being held hostage to media and social media images to using them as tools of transformation and spaces for gratitude.
Amen and see you in the final part.