Sooo Grateful for My Awesome Hubbie and Life!
I woke up before sunrise this past Mother's Day. The baby and I ate breakfast together while my husband tried to sleep off his latest chemotherapy treatment. There were no perfectly wrapped gifts, nor were there any fun plans to celebrate my first year as a mom. The only person who ate breakfast in bed was my husband, if Gatorade counts as breakfast. I was fine with this—at least until logging onto Facebook.
My newsfeed spilled forth updates and photos from excited mom friends. "Thankful for breakfast in bed!" they said. "I'm so blessed! Hubby got me an adorable necklace for Mother's Day!" Suddenly I felt sorry for myself. I'm certain there were many women—those who have lost mothers, those who have lost children—who felt the sting even more strongly.
I am, of course, the first to blame for these feelings of inadequacy. I am a sinner, so I struggle with comparing my life to others'. The obvious cure for my tendency to compare is to turn off Facebook and turn to Jesus.
But while I acknowledge it is my responsibility to check my attitude, every Christian needs to consider that what they share and how they share can affect people in their online communities.
One way Christians might re-think our posting habits is by evaluating our words. It has become socially acceptable to use online spaces to present the good, happy and tidy sides of our life. Sometimes we are upfront with our boasting, and other times we mask self-congratulatory sharing with a "humble brag."
Coined by Harris Wittels, author of Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, the "humble brag" is when someone brags about herself but avoids the social stigma against bragging by couching the announcement in false humility. Though making an appearance in face-to-face conversations, the humble brag is most commonly seen in online spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blogs, all of which breed announcements about the self.
We American Christians have our own version of the humble brag. Instead of prefacing our brag with phony humility, we sometimes soften it with expressions of blessing and gratitude. We want, like everyone else, to show that our life is good, happy, and exciting, but we also don't want to seem self-important. So we append our posts with praise to God. This is not to say that all online praise is unauthentic—some is, absolutely. But I suspect that some of our expressions of praise are also motivated by a desire to display our life in only a positive light.
Guilty as charged. On a recent vacation, I uploaded a sunset photo with the caption, "Grateful for God's creation." I certainly was grateful, and our Creator deserves such praise. But one primary reason for posting the photo was to show everyone in my Instagram feed that I was having a great time in Hawaii. A lot of Christians in my online communities use this kind of language when sharing exciting moments in their lives, whether it's announcing a new baby, a new car, an engagement, or an exotic vacation.