5 Things I learned when I gave up Social Media for Lent

 

Every year for LENT I give up something. The goal is to give up something that has kept me from being as close to God as I need to be and/or as productive as I need to be. This year I decided to attempt to give up social media and alcohol. This blog will be dedicated to what giving up social media meant for me. It meant that I would make more time to pray. It meant that I would find more time to spend with family, engaging friends and growing. Here are some things I learned in addition to the things mentioned above.

 

  1. Many of us use social media and alcohol to cover up our social anxiety.

I have always been a people watcher. So when I compare those I see on IG and the way they act in person, it can be drastically different. In fact, I have found that many people are only cool on social media. Their actions in real life are the total opposite to their actions on social media. The Snapchat Stars, the Famous Facebookers and the immortal Instagramers are not the same in person.

 

 

  1. Social Media Can Be Like a Reality Show.

 

 

Everyone on social media these days is looking to argue or voice their perspective. On any given day when YOU post your own thoughts or perspectives regarding an issue, be prepared for any number of people to @ you with their opinion of you based on your comments. Many of us draw conclusions of people based on what they post and develop opinions of people without knowing the layers of them.

 

  1. Paying Attention to the News is Important

 

 

We have all seen that “friend” or that “follower” who is constantly sharing and posting inaccurate, offensive and flat out false stories. Paying attention to credible news sources is so important and vital to attaining true knowledge. Many people today rely to heavily on social media for news. As a result we get half the story right with a quarter of the facts. There is nothing worse than someone who is adamant about a position on a topic, with all or most of the facts completely wrong.

 

 

  1. Social Media, It’s not Reality… Most Times

 

 

People have started living lifestyles they can’t afford to impress people they don’t know and will never meet. A good number of people have literally catfished all of us. These individuals are truly socially awkward crying out for help, but the lack of social skills and a lack of a real support system to get help.

 

  1. Your Time Can Be Better Spent

 

 

So many of us are giving social media and those who follow us and/or we follow too much time. The time we could be spending praying/meditating, working out, learning to cook or even enjoying vacations and the people around us are spent posting about everything we do. Can you imagine the number of goals we could all have achieved by now if we opted to spend less time on social media and more time living authentic lives?

 

 

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Move Ahead!

There is a large sect of people who whole heartedly believe that in order to keep it real they can’t progress. 

They can’t wear fitted clothing, because that’s for (insert a certain group of people that make them feel insecure). They can’t make a subject and verb agree, because that would mean they think they are uppity after applying the lessons from their education. They feel like if they dine at places with white table cloths or dress up as oppose to dumbing it down they have sold out.

To those people I would argue that keeping it real is a temporary state of mind. That is to say that real should be based on your current situation. It should not be a cage or jail cell that holds you hostage throughout your twenties, your thirties, and so on.

If you still speak the same, dress the same, act the same, and think the same way you aren’t keeping it real you’re missing out on growth. Keep it real and keep learning keep growing and keep developing. 
Many of us don’t challenge the way we think or allow others to. We take the exact same trips with the exact same people literally and figuratively. Travel to a place you’ve yet to experience. Go alone. Meet up with some people who’ve been good to you and learn a little more about them.

At one time I said I would never wear fitted clothing. I felt the need to speak in ways that weren’t representative of the education I had received. I wouldn’t try new foods and I ordered the same thing no matter what restaurant I visited. I missed out on so many opportunities to expand my pallet and to try something new. I missed a chance to move ahead of where the old me was.

I would argue that I even kept company that no longer pushed me, challenged me, and allowed me to stay the same. I won’t say I’ve broken all the things keeping me from moving ahead but I’ve identified them and I’m working on removing those blocks.

When you look back on your life, look back on a life where year over year you beater your last year. Look back and see you moved forward maybe your path wasn’t the perfectly laid path at the beginning, but look back and see you created a path that you have no regrets on. 

Move ahead of where you were yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. Keep it real by learning more about yourself by experiencing things you’ve yet to experience with people you may have not given the opportunity.

The Similarities

As a black man I wish I knew as a child what I know now. As a child I grew up with great friends of all ethnicities and cultures. I had friends from many different countries that spoke English as a second language, and had hard working parents just like mine.

As an adult racial biases would smack me in the face the world didn’t care how educated I was, what suit I wore, how many countries I had visited, how many people I had helped. I was still just a black man. I can recall the year I was pulled over 9 times in a 12-month span, illegally stopped, and falsely arrested. At that time I was a full time college student, I worked full time, and helped support my family. At the time my sister was undergoing dialysis due to kidney disease. My mother had recently recovered from two strokes and was then unemployed.

You see the majority of “us” (black men) no matter how well dressed, no matter how educated, no matter how well traveled, no matter what you have overcome, have had some sort of run-in with the law warranted or unwarranted and in most cases faced an experience like mine. Bias, Bias, Bias!

I’ve been at work where I’ve been treated significantly different than my peers of a different race. I’ve seen the treatment of others be significantly different thank there non-white peers or made out to be more aggressive (a biased and unwarranted stereotype).

So I shift that dehumanizing experience to another set that I have experienced. Being black and gay, interestingly enough I did not face many questions about my sexuality over the years. In the process I overheard countless homophobic jokes and disrespectful commentary about gay men, from people who did not know I happened to be gay (I have been told I don’t fit the stereotype). As my grandmother would said, “You don’t act like the rest of them…”

Over the years I have heard straight men and women refer to gay men as everything from “faggot”, to “queen”, to “sissy”. Imagine being a black person and hearing your white or Indian family, friend or associate say the word “nigger” in your presence. That’s what I felt. I could see then the bias that existed throughout society. It seemed like no matter how good of a friend, family member, volunteer, or even coworker I would still be viewed as (insert homophobic epithet). That bias existed. Though nobody directed those words directly at me I felt a certain sense of anxiety about it.

I have even seen ignorant posts and commentary about marriage equality opening the doors for bestiality or marriage to animals. Over the years I have seen family, friends, and associates hop in and out of relationships and then get married complete with white dresses a blessing from a preacher. I have seen countless straight friends get drunk, gamble, and party such that it led to pre-marital sex. Many of which would soon go on to get married. Yet we now see here that the sanctity of marriage is in question.

The past few weeks after SCOTUS’s ruling I saw so many bigoted and bias posts, reposts and pieces of commentary, I was shocked. I have seen more support for jailed murderers, drug dealers, and unwed pregnant women. It is crazy that our society and our black community would critique, criticize, and ultimately reject a group who can relate to the treatment blacks receive daily.

It is amazing that black people who were once not allowed to have civil liberties would advocate for the denial of another human being having them. While many would argue my religious beliefs or God doesn’t like “that” I would caution you to be sure you interpret your readings for your self and not just regurgitate information. I won’t go too deep but at one time the bible was used and twisted to unfairly treat black people. Don’t let abomination (which means culturally something is disliked) be thrown around when God called us to love one another.
Imagine if our black people joined together to support initiatives in our communities the way the LGBT community did. I won’t go into too much depth, but I know I don’t get nearly the response to volunteer opportunities that I do to anything related to a community service event and my colleagues I volunteer with gay and straight have long said the same thing.

Imagine if we eliminated racial biases or biases based on sexuality. Your friend that you love to death may not feel the need to be afraid to share with you that they are just a little different. I am so incredibly thankful that years ago when I shared my sexuality with my grandmother, mother, sister, and brother, and close friends they never loved me any less they simply asked, “Are you happy?” There only wish has been that no matter what I be happy. You see there is not much different between the LGBT community and the black community. Imagine no bias for race or sexuality. We could learn something from one another and move the chains so that equality wasn’t just based on sexuality, but even on race! The Similarities we overlook are glaring!
I’ve witnessed members of the LGBT community advocate for equality on their behalf. I’ve seen the LGBT community boycott businesses that openly made derogatory or discriminatory remarks against the community. Imagine if people of color did the same. Most recently the Hispanic community joined together to flex their power on Donald Trump. Again the similarities. Imagine what would happen if black people flexed their economic and political influence until equality was reached. This isn’t to say some aren’t working! I know great groups of thought leaders, organizers, and individuals who constantly work on the greater populations behalf, but it’s surely not the number we could see.

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Imagine!

Imagine if we lived in a society that saw relationships as freedom and not restrictions. We would probably have more individuals working on themselves and developing ourselves as much as we try to develop our partners and potential partners into what we think we want.

Imagine understanding and knowing that the right person with the right kind of love could free you and open your mind rather than restrict you and deter you. We might have more power couples that encourage growth rather than trying to keep our partners stagnant and compliant.

Imagine if we understood that financial freedom requires a little restriction to provide a lot of opportunity. We might have a few more business owners. We might have a few more people who are fully insured (life, health/dental, and home/vehicle) and not just people looking good. 

Imagine if we saw marriages as long term investments instead of special events. Weddings wouldn’t be the expensive to do’s with no longevity in sight.

Imagine if we understood that despite how good of a person you are you would not please everyone! We would focus on doing what is right and not expecting everyone to do as we would do. 
 Imagine if…