Win Today with Christopher Cook

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Why We Absolutely Must Stop Living a Digital Life

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Too many of us are living in a glass bubble of illusion in an effort to show ourselves strong to a world that really isn’t paying attention. Deep down, I’m convinced we’re possessed by the pressure to jumpstart the mundane and numb the fear of not being good enough fast enough. And so the portraits of our daily lives are hung upon hooks of comparison, insecurity, and fantasy.

I’m certain there is a better way to live because that one is a far cry from reality.

The Real World

Here’s my question: what’s stopping you and me from nurturing the actual life we are living—for the good and the difficult—in favor of exerting energy and focus towards the polished, digital life we gravitate towards each day? For the majority of us, tucked behind the pictures and stories we portray publicly is a less-than-Pleasantville life that rarely makes headlines.

I’ll go first and raise my hand. I’ve done it.

Think with me for a moment. Wouldn’t it be something if we published our candid life as much as our posed life? We both know that our relationship hurdles, our frustrations at the office, and our insecurities as men and women will never make the best photo ops.

What rarely makes those pictures is a pile of dirty laundry and a less-than-perfect yard. And what definitely isn’t in the picture is our sleep-deprived, real-life-worn, puffy eyes and our achy muscles.

Those pictures don’t light up the news feed.

But at least they represent a complete picture of real life; a real life that is valid and totally normal.

Debunking the Digital “Pleasantville” Life

What I’m after is unpacking the reason we’re drawn to the portraits of the “Pleasantville” life (and even more compelled to capture it). Could it be boredom with the state of our daily lives? Could it be disappointment or apathy? Or could it be insecurity that fuels competition against the rest of the digital world.

In all cases, it’s a distraction that’s keeping us stuck in a fantasy and at an arms-length from the authentic (and imperfect) life we should be pursuing. Even worse, it’s a distraction that gives us the emotional payoff of progress while truthfully we’re actually just spinning our wheels.

Scroll. Double-tap.
Scroll. Like.
Scroll. Stare.

An hour later…

Stuck Like Glue

One of the reasons I believe we get stuck in life is because we’re shadowboxing in a competition that doesn’t actually exist. And with each flailing jab and right hook, we’re swinging at the air. Why? Because I’d bet a shiny penny that everyone else is swinging for the same invisible target.

And it’s prevalent amongst men and women alike.

For the Fellas

Men, listen up. I know our internal wiring incites a drive to compete (and to win), but if I may offer this piece of peace: more than your attainment of something, don’t lose sight of who you’re becoming. Dump the distractions. The people in our lives need our honest, transparent, vulnerable heart as much as they need our muscle and inner fortitude. And one more thing: in your conquest to be your lady’s knight-in-shining-armor, don’t become so enamored with the logistics of purist that you miss her entirely.

Listen-Up, Ladies

Women, I have something for you, too. Drop the weight of trying to live a “heart is full” digital life.  Just be you. If the people in your life are up to the task of unearthing the treasure that you are in the sheer simplicity of your design (yes, including the parts you don’t love), they are the keepers.

FOMO is the New YOLO

You see, somewhere along the line, we started living reactionary lives, and as a culture, began measuring our total worth and value upon the amount of “likes,” hearts, views, and comments generated by the all-consuming digital machine.

Somehow, we lost our wide-eyed wonder in discovering the awesomeness of our individual uniqueness and traded it in for a reduced life herded and corralled by the fear of missing out on what everyone else is having.

In a text message conversation with my friend, Brigitte, last Thursday, she said, “[We need to] step away from technology and just live life. We legitimately don’t know what a day without technology would feel like and I bet a lot of us are even scared to try. FOMO is pretty real.”

She’s absolutely right.

Welcome the Identity Crisis

Yet in the process of living this distracted lifestyle, we’re inviting insidious, whispered taunts into our lives: I’m not good enough. I’m missing something. I always make the wrong choice. I’m not smart enough. And so instead of using our time and energy to discover and live from our true identity, we live through the lens of “less than.” All lies. But the trouble is that a believed lie empowers those falsities to become real to us.

So what’s stopping you from creating the actual life you want to live instead of the all-consuming digital life you gravitate towards each day?

Brigitte confidently stated that it’s time to flip over the phones once in a while in favor of the real life you’re building with real people. Celebrate the highs. Don’t ignore the lows. But let it all be real and lived-out in authenticity.

Last Friday, I did just that. And it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time with one of the most important people in my life.

Try it for yourself and let me know what happened in the comment section below.

  • Esther Lynnae

    Another great post. This is actually something I was chatting with a friend about not too long ago. How much unnecessary drama and misunderstandings have come about simply because we have given into the lies bombarding our mind as we scroll through the snapshots of people’s lives. Man, I have been guilty of that. And in the process, fell into the trap that in order to “feel” valuable and that I was worth someone’s time all depended on how many likes I received on a post. Or even portraying that all is well in my world, when in reality, my life was a wreck. It’s been, since I decided to be fully me, embrace the good with the not so good, that I found a freedom that comes from being transparent that ends up becoming a blessing to someone else who can relate; often times it being someone “close” to you that you didn’t realize was going through something because you were so disengaged from reality. So I’ve taken the last couple of years to be really intentional about “saying no to techno” and leaving my phone in the car or in another room or just plain shutting it off when spending quality time with people, especially those who have been that intentional with me. And what I found was that I really enjoyed those moments, the jokes that were cracked, the encouragement that was given and received, and discovering new things about that person. And it was fun, drama free, fun! Technology at our fingertips is great, but I don’t ever want to become so attached to it that I lose the ability to connect and be real, be me, and enjoy life.

    • This is awesome, Esther. I especially enjoyed your comment, “And in the process, fell into the trap that in order to ‘feel’ valuable and that I was worth someone’s time all depended on how many likes I received on a post.” It’s what I mentioned in my post (and what you echoed): there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating life and even seeking comfort via a digital platform. It’s simply that the most authentic life will be lived through real relationships, in the good…and the rough! Thanks for sharing. All my best!

  • Lyn

    This is sooo very good and something I long for!! We are instituting a technology free time Zone/Day soon, in our home! Having faced much loss recently, I just am flabbergasted at the amount of technology obsessed living from others, as well as myself. I just said to my husband, I remembered the day we lost my dad, I went to Costco with my sister, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs…”why are you all shopping?!!! Don’t you realize what I’m going through?!” Same with the funeral procession for his mom…people still go through life, unscathed by our lows and losses.
    Hence, I find myself seeking solace in the likes and follows…both of which do not take away the pain or give peace. They instead, add to pain and hurts, when you see people you thought were “friends” not really care, as they post away and in real life don’t give you the time of day or any concern. It’s time to shut off and get real. Inasmuch as technology can be a huge blessing and connect us with loved ones afar, it can also desensitize us to the here and now, in exchange for the euphoria of success, popularity and acceptance. I’m trading much technology lately, for His written word on the thin pages of my tangible bible and journaling with pen and paper!! Old school, I know, but it’s sure beats scrolling down to see a cute cat video and “react” to it! Thank you for the reminder and your awesome wisdom, Chris. Much love.

  • Amanda McBride

    Life without social media is beautiful. I know it sounds crazy but it’s really like quitting any other bad habit.

    Just remember that whatever excuse you have for staying in it, the Lord will provide so much more in return for your focus on Him. I don’t miss the pictures people post because my real life relationships have grown. My need for validation from “likes” sounds silly to me now. Jesus likes it all.

    It feels good.

    • Good for you, Amanda! Inherently, social media is neither good nor bad, but as a culture, we have definitely taken it too far as our identity is concerned. Proud of you!