One of the teachings of Jesus that I always liked was his persistence that the way of God is always the way of using the weak to shame the strong.
It’s so scary to be weak. We all have our stats super publicized all the time, people know how much traction our general ideas and personhood are getting. It’s weird to be alive in real life and also digitally too. But that’s always been the case since the time that humans began writing things down and sending their ideas on to folks ahead of their physical meat self.
(“sending your physical meat self” probably means something different in the Snapchat era than what I’m talking about though, fyi)
I want to be excited about sharing my ideas. But I don’t want to be part of the churn. The way I’ve interacted with people digitally over the last few years is just been swimming with the current. My own current is weird. My social flow with digital friends is all over the place. People coming in and out and then forgotten for years then touching base with this person who I used to know as a physical person but now they are just a profile pic and some posts in the feed when something notable happens — or when nothing at all happens.
On twitter, when I started that over a decade ago now, it took me forever to figure out how to get some traction and making it a creative and expressive place for myself. I finally found my groove, but then I realized it gets really boring to talk in sentences that “pop” in the twitter space. You have to adopt either a “burst of insight” tone, where some particular point really amazes you so boom here it is read and digest and pass along to signal that you also get this point; or the other way to tweet is an outrage “fuck you” rant to some person or idea. Then sprinkling some jokes in as they come unless you are legitimately hilarious all of the time.
My digital persona is weak. And, for the first time in my life, this isn’t leading to anxiety. It’s a weird sort of peace. I can see that the undeveloped and unfinished part of my online identity is both true and false. It’s true that I’m undeveloped as a person. I have a lot more living and growing that I want to do. But it’s also true that I have a lot more things together than what might come through digitally.
I am surrounded by people that are on the whole really great to be around. Physically. I feel close enough to actual humans (not handles) right now that I can feel that sort of sadness and fragility that you feel when you’re struggling alongside other humans. I think that we are meant to crave that, some part of our brains even on an evolutionary level knows that we need to focus in on those who suffer and offer at least our presence. I’m not like having kumbaya moments with my boys or anything, in fact I try to avoid a lot of serious conversations. Maybe it is something I will get better at going forward, but my cringe reflex is very low and yet I still do think about these people and continually find myself in a position to depend on them and be depended on by them — which is (I think) community.
It’s hard to experience another’s suffering when it is just part of the FEED. You kind of have to look in someone’s eyes when they tell you that they feel like it’s all falling apart. Your heart just stops right there. You can’t escape it — there’s nowhere to cringe and nobody to cringe to, you are in that fucking moment. You can’t scroll past a human being eight inches away from you.
It’s so strange that in the Christian tradition, the weak and rejected have always been the ones to lead the charge for a new way of interacting with the world. Revolutions are started on the fringes. If you feel weak, then you are probably in a good place with the universe right now. Stay weak so you can always be strong.
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares us to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure, yeah
Under pressure, uh