I love stories. I think they are my favourite toy in our toy box.
I love hearing people's stories, I love telling mine, I love lies masquerading as stories, I love it when people lie to me and I am none the wiser, but so much wiser for it.
Communication (for lack of a better word) is one of Ihu Karaiti's (Jesus') greatest miracles; the idea that two people can make the journey from expression to comprehension of each other's intent and meaning with only words is a frighteningly beautiful thing that is spine tingling at its best.
The beauty of communication is it is every human's first engagement with creativity; as children we move our lips to the motion of the world spinning around us, trying to make sense of this vast reality.
When we speak we are doing more than talking. We are taking a wordless nameless thought, shiver or feeling and wrapping our tongues around it, throwing it into the air to float out into someone else's world, where it hits and ricochets off of their experiences, their loves, their fears, and their comprehension. All in the hopes that they might share in ours and together we might discover a commonality that while seeming new, has always been there.
It is a beautiful thing; I am never more blessed than when another human invites me into their soul, their world, or their heart with their words.
That is why we have to change how we talk to each other, or should I say at each other; that is why I mourn how you talk to me, and how I talk to you.
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, the four horseman of the apocalypse.
I could be accused of being a technophobe or someone who is anti-progressive and suits a life spent living in villages with communal socks while knitting each other hemp blankets and singing songs on a four string guitar.
While it's true to an extent that I am not the biggest fan of social media, I do not condemn others use of it, I just believe it is a poor version of what true authentic communication can be (he says as he types an article for an online publication, irony's a brick)
My real complaint is not with social media use, rather with its nature.
Social media outlets are inherently voracious; they feed on "You-ness" or if I were in the business of brand making "YouJuice". They draw on our natural desire for relationship, for togetherness and they offer us a shortcut to it. While that sounds good and progressive, maybe there is a reason I can only hear roughly the distance between myself and the person to whom I am talking. Closeness breeds intimacy which is the soil in which trust honesty and truth grow.
Social media can be likened to conversational steroids, the use of them betrays the integrity of what they are trying to help you achieve, which is genuine connection.
That is the basis of temptation, we are never tempted to harm ourselves, we are only tempted with what we believe would make us most happy, but we are tempted into the easy path of achieving it. Social media utilizes that most fundamental desire in us for relationship, but offers us isolation and exploitation from the very thing that we want.
Two pennies on your lips
"So what's the big deal Trent, so they rely on personal information and maybe at their worst exploit that, so what?"
The big deal is that you are worth more.
Your entirety, your humanity and your divinity are all worth far more than a click, a like, or a share. The depth and breadth of you cannot fit on a 16inch monitor. Your collective experiences and stories are deeply precious and important, definitely to me, and they should be so to you.
Matthew 6:5And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Where the world waits in eager anticipation for what you will throw at its feet that it may consume and be filled for but a minute, like a dog at the dinner table, Christ invites you into secrecy and intimacy. It is an invitation into a place where your stories have more weight and substance than the clanging gong, and where they will be appreciated and valued.
Paul tells us to boast of our weaknesses, if we are to boast of anything. But social media demands we take the best of ourselves, at times betraying our own realities (Instagram worthy?) just so that we might get liked.
As so often is the way, Ihu Karaiti invites us into his upside down kingdom where the first are last, and in our weakness Christ is revealed.
Tell me, what would the world look like if we took all of our mess and pain, we placed it upon the altar of social exposure, and then with all our gold, silver or maybe our two pennies, we went into our room, shut our door, and spoke with the author and reader of all stories, lies, truth and everything in between?
Face to Face
So please, take this invitation, and with it give your beautiful and terrible stories the weight and worth they so clearly deserve. Be precious with your words, with your heart and with your stories. Love the intimacy that face to face conversation is meant to give us
Then, when you know the importance of your hearts words, they will mean more as you use them in light of that. Then in sharing them, they will become more than stories, they will become tapestries, legends, fables, epics and symphonies.
PS: So let's give this a try yeah? If you want someone to listen to your stories, I would love to hear some of them if you'd let me. Let's meet up for a chat? Face to face.
Trent Hohaia is a graduate from Te Whare Wananga o Waikato with a Bachelors degree in Tikanga Maori and Sociology. Fond of embellishments and sometimes outright lies, Trent is in love with his people, and is on a journey of restoration and development for Maori in Aotearoa.
Trent Hohaia's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/trent-hohaia.html