Social media causes narcissism.

People who take selfies have shallower relationships.

Reality-TV watching is directly related to self-absorption.

Seflie

Seflie

“A study by Larry Rosen at California State University, presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, showed how teens who spend too much time on Facebook are more likely to show narcissistic tendencies and display signs of other behavioral problems. Rosen said the negative effects of teens overusing social media include making them more prone to vain, aggressive and anti-social behavior and that excessive use can lead to poorer academic performance.”

(https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201306/do-facebook-and-other-social- media-encourage-narcissism is a great article listing several studies showing these frightening results.)

It’s ironic that I’m writing an article for a blog (social media) about the downfalls of social media.

Social media can be a great tool for strengthening relationships—if the focus is on the other person and not on making yourself look good. Social media is a wonderful tool for looking for opportunities to serve—if the focus is on looking for quiet cries of help and not on your superiority. Social media can be an incredible tool for sharing truth—if the focus is on adding a positive, uplifting message and not on engaging in contention.

Social media is a TOOL. Like a hammer.

You can use a hammer to build a bird house. You can use the exact same hammer to smash the bird house to bits. The hammer doesn’t change. It is your choice of how to use it that affects the outcome.

I think the connection between social media, taking selfies, and selfish behavior is pretty obvious. What about the relationship between watching reality TV and self-absorption?

When I have time, I enjoy watching “Biggest Loser” and “Shark Tank” … does that make me self-absorbed? Maybe. Maybe not.

Pliers, Hammer, and tools.

Pliers, Hammer, and tools.

I do know that these shows promise quick results. Lose weight that took years to accumulate in a matter of weeks! Have your idea bring you millions of dollars with the right connections!

This is reality TV, but it is not reality. In my life and in the lives of those around me, change takes time and hard work and sheer grit. There is no quick-fix.

I have a girlfriend who is absolutely inspiring with her physical fitness. She’s a certified personal trainer and is training for bodybuilding competitions.

A little more than 2 years ago, she was a woman in her forties who struggled with extra weight and decided to make lifestyle changes. She shared with me how she doubted herself, how she failed and tried again and failed again. She faced insecurities and others around her who doubted the worth of her goals, yet she did it! And the journey taught her more about herself than she expected. She hoped to lose weight. She was thrilled to also lose fear and self-doubt.

My sister was a partying alcoholic who hit rock bottom years ago when she found herself harassed by collection agencies; in tens of thousands of dollars of debt; twice-divorced; and a whole host of other problems.

She is now debt-free. She only has a high school education, so paying that off has required a willingness to work long hours as a waitress—getting bossed around by teenagers who were shift supervisors. She is now married to a good man who treats her well and loves her sons. She still has so much further to go, but she continues to move herself forward, despite set-backs.

Waitress

Waitress

I can give many, many more examples. What all of these individuals share is a willingness to acknowledge their responsibility for moving their own lives in the direction they want to go.

Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? Are you doing today what it takes to get you there to that vision of your hoped for future? Or are you sitting there hoping that someday a reality TV director will show up on your porch and make your dreams reality?

I love Longwood Gardens—people come from all over the world to tour the grounds because they are stunning. For years, I watched reality TV shows on HGTV and wished someone would come make-over my backyard. 

Then I decided to do it myself: one year we planted grape vines over an arbor. Another year we added swings and chair hammocks for reading. Another year we planted blueberry bushes. It is so thrilling to see our home become a peaceful sanctuary of natural beauty.

Are we where I want to be yet? No. The journey to get there is long and costly in time and finances; however, I am enjoying the lessons learned along the way. I love the long talks with my husband as we discuss what changes we will tackle next, together bringing our vision for our home to reality.

Who do you want to be? In your friendships? In your character?

About a year ago, I looked at my life and realized that I wanted to be more compassionate. Up to that point in my life, I just kind of figured that some people just had ‘it’—the compassion gene. Instead, I had the ‘suck-it-up-buttercup’ gene, which distinctly lacked compassion.

Applying the gospel of Jesus Christ

The Good Samaritan

So, I set a challenge for myself to live as the epitome of compassion—the Good Samaritan. For a year, because I needed a finish line. I also needed accountability, which is how this weekly blog came into being.

The blog has been a blessing because it makes me think as I write about the lessons I’m learning in this journey to discover compassion.

This last week, I had several social interactions which were perplexing. In a nutshell, I was helping to host a private reception held in a church building. Several individuals just walked in and started helping themselves to food set out for the guests. These individuals had not been invited. When these individuals were asked to leave, they created a scene by complaining loudly that they had every right to be there—it was a church, wasn’t it?

At the time, I was focused on keeping the ambiance quiet and appropriate for the invited guests. So, I nicely, but firmly, escorted these problematic individuals out of the reception.

That’s exactly what needed to be done. However, in retrospect, I believe I should have responded with more compassion, with more understanding of their feelings, with more love.

Were they invited? Absolutely not. Were they always welcomed in the House of the Lord? Absolutely. How to balance that dichotomy?

To read more of Emlee's articles, click here.

To read more of Emlee’s articles, click here.

With love. So easily, I could have taken a few extra moments to grab a couple water bottles from security for them. So easily, I could have taken a few extra moments to help them schedule a time that they would be able to come onto the grounds. So easily, I could have taken a few extra moments to love them, rather than view them as a problem to be dealt with.

Our culture of social media doesn’t help us to think of others first. But we must. These shows that promise quick change are not my experience. I want to have more compassion, and I still fall short. I need to pick myself back up and try to move forward with more focus on others and less on my agenda. I need to continue to move forward to becoming more like my Savior, which is a private journey and not one chronicled on social media or on a reality TV show. It is engraved upon my heart, one decision at a time.

About Emlee Taylor
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years. 

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