So last week I had the privilege of being in the enchanting realm of the mouse. While my Seattle friends were suffering through some particularly frigid temperatures, I was tagging along with my wife at her conference in the wonderful world of Disney. It's a tough life, but occasionally I can bear the burden. Anyway, it afforded me the opportunity to take part in some very insightful and sometimes inspirational people watching.... Sometimes not so inspirational.
One of the sadder trends that I've observed over the years is one facilitated by the tsunami of social media. In a place that almost screams presence, many are not at all...present I mean. In their desire to be connected to their circles, they become disconnected to their surroundings. I often wonder how they are tweeting and facebooking the experiences that they are not actually taking part in. This year, in particular, I was witness to, in my opinion, a great casualty of living your life online. This event took place during the famed Magic Kingdom parade. If you've never been to one, you may not understand this, but it is exceedingly popular and almost a must for a complete experience during a day at Disney. Some people can actually be quite rabid and unreasonable in their desire to get the perfect viewing spot. For each and every parade the Disney dignitaries offer the chance for the best seats in the house to a fortunate family, couple, group, whatever, you get the picture. These seats are at the very front of the parade in the grand marshalls vehicle. If the stars are aligned for you and you are chosen for this honor, there is only one responsibility. You smile and wave. That's all, smile and wave. In each and every Disney parade that I have ever been witness to this is exactly what I have seen...smiling and waving at the thousands who are smiling and waving back at you. Tragically, not this day. On this particular day last week I watched, sadly, the grand marshalls car, complete with the required family, winding its way along the parade route. From my vantage point I could see quite a distance in both directions. I wished that I couldn't. In the car sat a family of four, excitedly smiling and waving...or at least three of them were. The mom had her head down, intently, no almost longingly, gazing at her "not so smart" phone....texting. Are you kidding me? Unfortunately I am not. The experience of a lifetime and instead of living it, she was texting that which should couldn't possibly have known...yet it was right there for her.
It left me with this very profound question, or at least I think that it is. How many of us are living life in this way? How many of us are letting ghost writers craft our story for us? How many counterfeits are walking around tweeting that which they are not even subject to because their gaze is down and not forward? In an informal study conducted at Disney by my wife and I, it was our observation that the ratio of women to men experiencing the parks through social media and text were easily 10 to 1. Don't kill the messenger, but I think that it says something about a culture in which even the biggest ignoramus would agree that women are more relational than men. In other words, those most hungry for relationship were ignoring the very people that they could relate to. It tells me that, for whatever reason, they are, in a phrase, " looking for love in all the wrong places". Living your life online is a sign that its not being lived in real time. I will leave it to the sociologists to figure that one out.
As for me, since I live in a glass house, I can't afford to throw stones. I have had my share of ghost writing represented within my own life...times when I'd rather live through someone else than write
it first hand.
As a pastoral artist I have many conversations with people disillusioned with the God that I know because of the experiences of others. Rather than embark on their own journey of discovery, they, for various reasons, have chosen to live vicariously through the spiritual tweets of others. If this happens to speak to you, let me be an encouragement when I tell you that the parade is set before us. In fact we are in the midst of it. You have two choices. You can put your head down or lift it high and enjoy the moment. Don't rely on the words of others to write your story...chances are they've never seen the celebration.