My Idolatrous Digital Life: Part One (introduction here)
I once broke up with a boy because he “wasn’t that into the Internet.” Read that sentence again and if that’s not the dumbest thing you’ve ever read in your life, you need to make better book choices. It should be the dumbest thing you’ve ever read because it is the dumbest reason to do anything, ever. (There was, of course, more to the story… but that was the crux of it. Commence cringing.)
It was the time of my life when I felt “internet famous” in my own little way because of this blog. I can’t even write that without feeling incredibly lame and squeamish, but it was true: I would often meet people who would say things like “Oh, I know who you are. I read your blog!” or “Oh! You’re Morgangster! Cool!” Much like any compliment, I liked the sound of those words… and those deep, dulcet tones of self-importance drove me into a pit of narcissism: I am important. People listen to me. People know me. I’m not fleeting or worthless. I matter to these people. I am somebody. And it was honest-to-goodness total self-righteous garbage.
Around the same time the Self-Delusion Train was pulling out of the station, a met a Great Guy. When I tell stories about past relationships and I get to This Guy, I refer to him as my “List Guy.” A List Guy is the guy who completes whatever arbitrary list you’ve made in your head (or possibly actually on paper) about what kind of partner is ideal for you. This Guy was my List Guy. He checked off all the blocks of everything I thought I ever wanted. He was perfect, really, save for one thing: He just wasn’t that into the Internet.
And that was a problem for me, as I was really into the Internet. And what I mean by that is… I was really into who I was on the Internet.
It seems weird to me now that I didn’t see the complete stupidity of my thoughts and actions towards The Guy. Here was this Flesh-and-Blood-So-Called-Perfect-For-Me-Human who didn’t give a crap about my Internet persona but in turn actually liked my Actual-Flesh-and-Blood Self. My actual face. My actual sense of humor. He liked spending time with my actual person in actual places having actual conversations. But I felt like since he didn’t care about my online life, he didn’t really care about me. I didn’t see the error of this thought process: Who I am on the Internet is not Actually Me. (I’ll be addressing this problem another day as it’s a doozy.) I wanted him to like the Perfectly-Crafted, Humorsly-Self-Depricating, Online-Version of Morgan… but he didn’t care about her because, well, she wasn’t real. She was a shade of who I really was, and he liked the real me. And yet that wasn’t enough. Who I was online was a growing, hungry monster and he wasn’t feeding it, so I wasn’t feeling it. I ended things because my ego couldn’t handle it. I needed him to approve of me— in real life and online.
I now see just how crazy that all is. Like, an actual crazy person might read this and think “wow, that’s messed up.” It is. My online persona was so important to me that I couldn’t fathom sharing life with someone who didn’t care about it. What’s even crazier is that it didn’t seem crazy at the time but instead totally justifiable! I could no longer separate my online life from my real one and so it felt like a denial of some deep part of me that he didn’t follow me on Tumblr. Do you understand how insane that sounds?! And yet… I still want people to like and envy and adore my perfectly crafted online existence. That was years ago, and how much different do I treat my social media now?
You see, idols aren’t necessarily bad things. In fact, they’re often good things (which makes them sneaky and hard to miss sometimes.) But idolatry happens when we take good things (or bad things) and make them Ultimate Things. Anything we worship, love, and adore more than God himself is an idol, plain and simple. I broke up with a boy once because he “wasn’t that into the Internet”and this is the story about how I realized I needed to break up with Internet because I was too into myself. This is the story about how I became an Idolator of Self, of Approval, and of Pride.
And List Guy… if you’re reading this: I’m sorry. But you’re probably not reading this. Because you’re probably still just not that into the Internet. And I commend thee for that.