Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Underbelly of Blogging * Sloppy Boundaries

We have everyday habits - formative practices - that constitute daily liturgies.  By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology.  Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens.
- Tish Harrison Warren - 

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If you aren't a blogger, you might be tempted to hit the delete button.  But would you humor me and stay with us?  Because if you're online, if you're all wrapped up in FB or Instagram or Twitter, if you're obsessively tethered to social media or games {Candy Crush anyone?}, there might be some gold for you to mine in the conversations that this Underbelly of Blogging series is sure to birth.

For I think it's fair to say that none of us want our legacy to be that of a worshiper of glowing screens.




Avid bloggers live to write, to create, to connect, to work the crowd.  We're quick to sing the praises of camaraderie, of connection, of community.  But we don't talk much about the hidden underbelly of our craft, those places where, over time, we find ourselves feeling unexpectedly weak.

'Less than.'  Vulnerable.  Hurt.  Frustrated.  Disappointed.  Exhausted.

Perhaps convicted.   

Left to our own unexamined devices, these unspoken realities of embracing extensive online community can easily morph into scenarios that lead to an off-kilter lifestyle, emotional unsettledness, relationship issues ... and yes, our spiritual downfall.

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Boundaries exist to keep us healthy, balanced, and safe.  These continued well-considered decisions speak volumes about what we value and prize.  They allow our 'yes' to be 'yes' and our 'no' to be 'no'.  When we live a boundaried life, we embrace a joyful freedom as we pursue our calling, passions, and giftedness with parameters that are authentic, wise, and strong ... all while being respectful to others in the process.

In eleven years of blogging, here's what sloppy blogging boundaries have often looked like for me:

-  Consistently creeping out of bed at o'dark thirty to be one of the first to add my post to a link-up has led me to neglect my husband's early morning sleepy companionship.

-  Reaching for the phone to approve / post readers comments has led to endless early morning surfing which has shoved any kind of meaningful devotional times right out the window.

-  Rudely tap-tapping away on a post or scanning other websites while responding to a loved one's phone call has kept me from being fully present to our conversation.

-  Setting a time frame to write that repeatedly spills over and intrudes on previous plans or commitments leaves me wondering where the day went and leaves those left in the lurch feeling disrespected.

-  Spending far too much energy surfing around speaks to a restlessness in my spirit that's not being tended to, produces lethargy and whiffs of anxiety, and keeps me from getting the physical exercise I need.

-  Participating in late evening link-ups and more surfing has led me to, once again, neglect my husband's companionship, and leaves my brain stimulated by all that blue light which in turn leads me to toss and turn, unable to get to sleep.

- Wondering if my readers will still be there if I take an online break has kept me from doing exactly what I know I needed to do.  Take a break from my endless self-absorption of being online.

I'd love to tell you that all these challenges have been tied up and taken care of.   Some have been clearly resolved, others are still a work in progress.  I don't want to be a worshiper of glowing screens.  But I've skated on awfully thin ice.

You, too?


Also in this mini-series ...


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linking up on Wednesdays with

38 comments:

  1. Thanks for your honesty. Letting our technology entertain us has become an epidemic in our country. And turned us into worshipers of our glowing screens. For this reason I try and take one day off all screens each week and have self imposed rules for myself about when I can be on in the morning and need to be off at night.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Well, I don't know who you are, but you sure are wise and I'm glad you're here!

      I think creating a weekly online Sabbath is sheer genius. I'd love to hear more about the guidelines you've set up for yourself.

      Would you be willing to share?

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing areas where God is working or has worked in your life. I might not have issues with "glowing screens" but I think your post goes along with your last book club read, where we need to be quiet before God to allow Him to tell us areas we need to work on. It will be different for all of us - the similarity is to listen to what He tells us and then work on changing those areas. I feel like I am leading into your next book discussion!

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    1. Well it wasn't purposeful, but yes, you're right! One topic surely is leading to the next. Must be God doing something because I pretty much don't line things up ahead of time.

      Just trying to key into His leading ...

      Marilyn, I'm glad you're here ... and I'm glad your comment came through!

      Yay!

      Delete
  3. I'm taking next week off from screens and blogging and am SO thankful!
    This is a great expose of the ugly side of the blogging life, and also applies to any kind of obsessive involvement with ministry/career!

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    1. Oh gosh, yes, I absolutely hear you about the obsessive involvement with ministry. Been there, done that.

      It's why working with ministry leaders has always been my sweet spot ... love these faithful, weary souls.

      And I love that you came to call twice today. That means alot to me. Thanks, Michele.

      Bon voyage ...

      Delete
  4. Oh yes, I've skated on thin ice too! I have taken extended breaks in the past. I know I am not being obedient to my writing always, due to blogging! That does sound ironic but I have traditional writings (even a novel) that need tending too, and feeling God nudging me to spend time on again. I'm praying into how I could possibly do both along with all else that's priority, yet being completely surrendered to His schedule is really what He wants of me. Oh why do we stretch ourselves so thin sometimes when His plan is always to prosper us in His way and perfect timing? :)

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    1. I like that distinction you're making between blogging and writing in other forms, Lynn. I know that for me, journaling my conversations with God has pretty much gone out the window, although it's been replaced by a different kind of ongoing dialogue.

      I'd love to hear more about those writings you long to tend to ... you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about being completely surrendered to His schedule.

      That's who I want to be, too ...

      Delete
  5. So true and necessary for us to hear, Linda. Thank you for being honest. I'm still a work-in-progress, too. Some years ago I was on Facebook, but I kept getting overwhelmed and depressed by some things that were written, so I gave it up. I also tried Instagram, but I gave that up, too. I find I spend too much time keeping up and end up surfing more. So now I'm focusing more on blogging once a week, but I still put too much pressure on myself. Also with reading and commenting on other blogs. I love how you encourage us to take breaks when feeling overwhelmed or lethargic. It's still hard for me to take a break, but maybe I'm progressing just a little... It was refreshing and rejuvenating when I took last summer off. :) Then there's this emptiness in my heart that can only be filled when I spend more time absorbing Scripture and sitting with Jesus. Love and hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I've never done FB, but I hear it can be a beast exactly for the reasons you described, feeling 'overwhelmed and depressed.'

      A summer sabbatical sounds divine. mmm ...

      You're so wise to be paying attention to your emotions because they're messengers that are trying to tell us something. More about that in the next post!

      Meanwhile, thank you for featuring our upcoming The Listening Life Book Open House on your site this week
      https://freedtofly.me/2018/04/10/invitation-to-the-listening-life/

      It meant so much to me to hear your heart and the conversation that followed.

      * READERS - please check Trudy's post out!

      Delete
  6. Hi Linda,
    All you wrote is so true about blogging and ourselves, but maybe it's just a picture of human nature set in today's technological world! Picking up our phones to check into our favorite social media platform seems to be under control, until we actually see how much it affects our thoughts. I unfollowed about 100 lovely Instagram accounts just because it was too many to take in -- do I need that many windows into people's lives I don't even personally know?! Such good truth (as always) in this post today -- much food for thought! xoxo

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    1. This makes so much sense, Valerie --> 'do I need that many windows into people's lives I don't even personally know?!'

      Amazing what one powerful question can do to clarify what's most necessary.

      Love that.

      Delete
  7. Linda,
    AMEN!! I have really removed myself from Facebook other than to post my blog and I really don't miss it...in fact I think my life goes better without it. I also take regular breaks from my work (which keeps me in front of the glowing screen a lot) and blogging to go outside, feel the sunshine, play fetch with the dog, water the plants. It's also important to have human interaction. A computer screen just won't cut it. All great thoughts about boundaries we NEED to set for our own good and for others.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard from a number of women who are done with FB, and this long before the recent headlines.

      Talk about feeling 'less than,' discouraged, left out.

      Sounds like 7th grade to me. My hat's off to all those who make the hard decision to say 'adios.'

      Delete
  8. Oh, yes, Linda, it's all to easy to become a slave to the glowing screen. Over the years, I've really cut back, especially from Twitter and Facebook, using those only for blog promotion and promoting someone else's work I deem valuable. And I've learned that taking the occasional break from blogging is absolutely worth it. If someone values my writing and my values, they'll be back like a good and trusted friend.
    Blessings to you!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ohhh yeah, this -->'if someone values my writing and my values, they'll be back like a good and trusted friend.'

      Those are the kindred spirit types, aren't they, Martha. Attitudes like yours put our minds at rest and remind us that God's in control of our social media. Not us.

      Delete
  9. Fortunately, the only media I am on is my blog. I am not on FB or any of the other social things. I have greatly altered my blogging schedule to give me freedom. I don't regret it one iota.

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    1. Absolutely. I'm thinking that many of us are in the same boat and over time have altered our blogging expectations and commitments, Bill.

      I'd love to hear what you put into place to adjust your blogging schedule.

      Delete
  10. It's so hard to find and keep the right balance, isn't it? It's an almost constant concern. May God give us each wisdom to discern how He wants us to spend our time and attention.

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    1. Yes, yes, Barbara. I've been doing more listening to what God is whispering about this passion and what comes next. I'm doing more letting Him lead the dance.

      It's a peaceful place to be.

      Delete
  11. I think so much of what you shared is why I still feel unsure about a return to writing. It has to come with a proper balance... not what it once was for me. As I copied from Emily Freeman and left on my blog Facebook page recently, I simply want to be willing to do my own thing well and present it as an offering. No other agenda than that.

    I really don't like Facebook much anymore but not sure how far I'd get without it for blogging purposes. Maybe something we can discuss over the phone one of these days.

    Blessings to you, friend. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Presenting it as an offering.

      Love that, Beth. And isn't that exactly what the Lord requires?

      It frees us from the tyranny of numbers {more on that to come} and ratchets down our own expectations.

      I think that putting all this underbelly stuff on the table allows us to look at what is true about where we each find ourselves so we can cut out the excess and what's not working for us and continue forward.

      Reading each other's stories lets us know we're not alone in trying to figure it all out.

      And yes, to your last sentence. I'm thinking of offering some blog coaching in conjunction with the end of this series. Thanks for letting me know it might be of help.

      Bless you, girl ...

      Delete
  12. Count me in this club too, Linda. Unfortunately. It's sometimes a struggle to find the healthiest boundaries. We can fall off the line on either side before we find our way back. Thanks for reminding us that healthy boundaries can exist; we don't have to live with sloppy ones.

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    1. Lisa, hi! And the good news is we can adjust our boundaries as the seasons change, as life circumstances shift, as new opportunities unfold, as God directs us elsewhere.

      We're not stuck on autopilot. Yay!

      Delete
  13. I'm on the same struggle bus. Is there room for me?

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    1. This is a great big bus.

      And the answer is yes, absolutely, my friend.

      ;-}

      Delete
  14. Interesting that you would post this. I find myself withdrawn from the blogging world at this present time--for whatever the reason. Once a week I check in and read my favorites (you being one), but am spending no time writing. I have been teaching a Bible Study and spending loads of one on one time with friends. Perhaps--God has whispered in my ear without me knowing, but for whatever the reason--I have been absent. Praying it is time used wisely growing closer to Him and to those He has blessed me with.
    Blessings, My Friend

    By the way--you writing gets better and better!

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    1. I love that you're teaching and hanging out with your friends, Lulu. I hear what you're saying that sometimes God is whispering and we hardly know it, but yet we're doing the next right thing and it turns out that's exactly what He was pointing us toward.

      I hope you'll keep dropping in when you're in front of your screen. And thanks for that last line. I do believe you made my day!

      ;-}

      Delete
  15. Me too, Linda! I nodded through your whole list of sloppy blogging boundaries, my friend. I've only been posting about once a month lately but still struggle with it all. That glowing screen spends far too much time in my face. Thank you for this reminder today! I think it's time to close my laptop and go see my family ;).

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    1. I knew I wasn't the only one!

      Thanks for letting me know I'm in very good company, Candace. Too many of us are struggling to figure out what our online /social media presence should look like ...

      I can't help believe that talking about it helps us figure out what we should do with it all.

      Delete
  16. You are a fount of wisdom, my friend. I struggle with balancing the need to interact, comment, encourage other bloggers without getting sucked in to the non-essential surfing activities. Looking forward to this series!

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    1. Yes, this is what I'm trying to figure out these days, June, just what you said -->'the need to interact, comment, encourage other bloggers.'

      We'll talk ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  17. This post brings up many thoughts, Linda. I have boundaries that I stick to very well, and others that are more of a work in progress (as you say). I find when I adhere more carefully, I get more done and feel lighter in my spirit ... funny how that happens, huh? I love this conversation and can't wait to read more ...

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    1. And I love that you're here! You've absolutely hit the nail on the head with the whole boundaries thing, which is true in every area of our lives ... when we stick within a healthy playing field, we end up more productive and lighter in our spirits.

      Which lead us to be more productive over and over ... and not just for ourselves, but in touching lives around us.

      Win - win, yes?

      Delete
  18. Thanks for sharing. It's amazing how a lack of boundaries can cause a host of issues!

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    1. Jonathan, hi! How fun to find you here!

      ;-}

      Delete
  19. Thanks! I skim through articles, and this one especially piqued my interest!

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    1. Feel free to jump in any time. You always bring something interesting to the table.

      Online ... and in real life!

      Love to you all.

      Delete

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