“Every step you take, every move you make. I’ll be watching you.” Who knew that this iconic 80’s song would become such a living reality? As technology improves, so does the ability to stalk one another. Now you may find this terminology disturbing, and I am not here to deny the insanity of it all, simply to enlighten and call us all out on our current tendencies and behavior.
To begin, I call your attention to advancements in social media happening across the platforms. Did you hear about the new Facebook app that allows your friends to know if you are within a certain number of miles of them? Think of how this will revolutionize dating and courtship. Instead of having to rely on happenstance encounters you can now easily stage being conveniently in the same place at the same time! What about Tinder, the app that allows people to determine attraction before even talking to each other. What implications do these tools have on our interactions with others?
How many of you have found yourselves sitting in a conversation with someone, listening to facts or stories about their lives that you already know because you follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Pinterest, and Facebook? Or perhaps even worse, how many of you have found yourself distracted by your electronic device when someone is talking to you so you miss the entire conversation and end up nodding or saying “uh-huh” a lot of the time. Would rather look up someone online than talk to a person sitting next to you on a bus or in line at the store? Do you know your next door neighbor as well as you know the details of the life of a friend from high school that you never even see any more?
In Preach My Gospel we are taught, “You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you.” I believe that our ability to communicate with others shows them how much we care about them. Because we are all children of God, do we not all deserve to be treated that way? If Christ was in the room with a person, how much attention would He give them? If He lived next door, how much service would He render? It is a humbling thought to me! Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “More important than speaking is listening.” For our purposes, I would add: more important than texting, tweeting, Facebook stalking, or pinning, is listening. As we learn to listen to each other we will be more like the Savior.
Finally, and probably the most important implication of always watching people, is that we are constantly aware of others and their every move. This makes us very susceptible to the pride of comparison. Be honest with yourself: how many times in the past month have you thought something along the lines of “Man, their life looks perfect, or they are having so much fun!” People tend to highlight the good moments of their lives online. Typically people avoid making their imperfections available to the public.
“Comparison of our weakness with others’ talents or of our talents with those who are truly gifted can be discouraging and may decrease our sense of self-worth” (Merrill J. Christensen, Comparing, Competing, and Individual Worth, Brigham Young University Speeches, July 2007).
I can’t speak for everyone else, but this has certainly been a problem for me many times. When I get on social media I see two things at the forefront of my newsfeeds. First many engagement and wedding photos. Second many pictures of people’s children doing cute and funny things. These are all very exciting, but there have been moments when I see these images that I wonder what’s wrong with me because I haven’t been given such gifts. Embarrassingly enough, l sometimes think of reasons why they are weird or strange, or how I have this talent or that which they do not have. Surely I am more qualified than they are to have these gifts. All of these thoughts are from the adversary trying to deplete me joy. Brother Christensen sums it nicely when he says, “Compulsive comparison can rob us of the enjoyment we might still experience in the expression of the talents we have been given and in the talents of others.”
Please don’t misunderstand, I really do value the wonderful technological resources the Lord has provided to us. As a social media guru at work I use it far more often than most people. The lesson, which is probably mostly for me, is that we need to remember that first and foremost we are children of God. We should treat others as such, and avoid comparing our weaknesses or strengths to those around us. We do not want to be robbed of the enjoyment and experience of life.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.