Friday, July 11, 2008

Tyranny of the E-mail

E-mail - 1: a system for sending messages from one individual to another via telecommunications links between computers or terminals, 2: A message sent by such a system. 

In the past decade, the popularity of the e-mail has grown in huge bursts. It's rare to find people that don't have a way to receive e-mails, even rarer to find someone who has never heard of the world sweeping phenomenon. Usernames that seem to have no connection to the owner have become extremely imaginative and creative. Would you prefer to be known as jane.smith or would you prefer iceprincess18? Ah, the joys in creating a digital part of yourself and your, rarely expressed, personality.

Then comes that special day when you get your first e-mail account. You give your address to all your friends and log in for the first time. Expectantly, you look at your inbox, positive you'll find nice, news-filled missives that will cause you to reply with equally heart-felt verbiage. But, what's this? There's a missing girl in Georgia?? How terrible! Hmm, I should forward this so that people can keep their eyes open for her, even in Wyoming, it's possible that she's in this area. The world of digital communication is so useful! I didn't even know about the fact that if we get 100,000 users to sign this e-mail, a big co-operation will give us all $100. I know I could use the money, I'll pass this one on too.

And so goes the average sifting through the e-mail boxes of today. What has caused this over abundance of forwards? I believe it has to do with the fact that we have become susceptible to the tyranny of e-mail. Maybe not the e-mail specifically, but our perceived importance of the e-mail and those that passed it on. For example, when you get an e-mail that says “Most of the people who read this e-mail won't pass it on, because they're afraid of what people think. Take a stand and forward this to as many people that you can!”, you may have thoughts run through your head like “I don't want to be known as a coward.”, etc. So, you forward it and feel good about “taking a stand”. We have let what others would think guide our decision making process. When, in actuality, the e-mail isn't really that encouraging or God honoring.

So, what should we do? How about taking the time to write our own e-mails to our friends? And if we find something that is really interesting, encouraging or even funny, share it with your friends - but refuse to send it to everybody. Forward to one person, adding a personal note each time. If we think about it more, don't you think that you'll stop forwarding on “auto-pilot”?

Ps. If you think the e-mail is something someone should know about, make sure to verify its claims:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Living on the Edge

Wallflower – this term became known to me early-on in my life. Being one was not fun, and sometimes hurt. I was not cool. I couldn't dress to impress. We didn't throw parties that everyone was begging to attend. I still remember feeling proud the day when Dad picked us up from a birthday party in his company car – a deep purple Firebird – our “recognition factor” jumped several points as guys and girls crowded around to see it. The white Camaro had the same effect. 

Our church youth group was something of which my sister and I longed to be a part. We tried to join groups in discussion, we joined the musicians and played with the congregational singing. Our parents didn't let us attend many sleepovers so our “fun times” were somewhat limited, but still there.
I must have mentioned some of these feelings of being unwanted to one of my mother's friends and she told me something I'll never forget. “Toni, sometimes being a wallflower is better than being in the popular crowd.” 

This made me think and finally start to accept my “status”. Life moved on. We changed churches a couple times and I moved south. But, I stayed on the edge.

Not all is lonely on the edge. I have many friends and times to talk and learn are many, but the drive to be popular has lessened some and I find life is less stressful. The benefits of a wallflower have increased as I consider my life. My growth in Christ has been assisted by true friends but not pressured by peers. Peer pressure is less on the edge and only has disastrous effects when trying to join the crowds. Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that I would like to be considered popular. There is a deep feeling in all of us to be wanted by others.

The challenge/point of this post? Don't strive to be the center in the popular crowd. Strength to stand alone is greater when not spinning on the popularity merry-go-round. Seek the Lord and His will for your friendships, standards, and directions for your life.

If you are at the center of a crowd, don't underestimate the power of your influence. You may find it harder to stand-up for what's right, but the effects will be far-reaching. Also, consider those on the edge, a smile or an interest in their life goes a long way. But like I mentioned above – seek God and His will, without pressure for results acceptable to those around you.