Friday, March 21, 2014

Reflections: Social Media

To reflect is to give back or exhibit as an image, likeness, or outline, or to think quietly and calmly to express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection.  Well those are two of the many definitions from the Miriam Webster dictionary.  Reflections don't always come from a mirror, glass, or looking into a body of water, at least for me they don't.  I see myself in the actions of others. I see myself in the lyrics of a song, or a scene from a movie.  I am constantly looking at things and trying to learn from them, applying them to my own situation.  When I title a post with "Reflections" it will be me talking about a situation I have come across recently whether I saw it in a movie, heard it in a song, or saw it someone else's life and talking about how it made me reflect on something going on in my own life.  I see everything as a learning experience and this will be me getting those thoughts out so I can remember the lessons I have learned go back and reflect on them. 

Social media has been a part of my life since middle school.  Oh my goodness I was all about some myspace.  I was pretty much obsessed.  Why did I care so much about myspace you ask? Well, I was an 8th grader trying to be as cool as possible and it was a way for me to be in control of something.  I could make my profile look like I had it all figured out.  Coolest music, cool editing on my photos, sweet layout, and what was it all for? It was all an effort to try and show others that I was awesome. I determined my coolness on how many comments I got on something how many fried requests I got.  I was such a dumb middle schooler....oh but wait, how am I different now? When it comes to how I use social media, I am not any different at all.  I am worse actually.  I have Facebook, twitter, instagram, you name it...I got it.  Social media can be an awesome thing.  It is a great way to keep in touch with long distance family and friends and it is an awesome marketing tool for business.  Small businesses can reach so many more people now because of the explosion of social media.  It is kind of awesome.  But Social media can be negative for sure and most of you know this.  

I was drawn to this topic because honestly, I was being very judgmental about some peoples posts. I then had to look at myself and see that I am no different.  I sometimes get involved in silly debates that I would never get involved in face to face, just because I can hide behind the computer.  I am guilty of taking the occasional selfie (gosh that word is annoying) and what is a selfie but a way to get a quick confidence boost.  But yet to get all those likes and comments you make sure it's the proper lighting and you edit any flaws so really people aren't complimenting what you really looked like when you took the picture.  It is so ridiculous. 
But what I really want to address is something directed towards Christ followers.  There are things I think we really need to be careful of.  (I want to go ahead and say that I am not trying to call any one out specifically or make anyone feel bad. I do not know the heart behind what people post and I am not claiming to I am just writing because I am reflecting on my motives and heart behind what I post) It may be really tempting to post a picture that someone took of you leading worship, or post a status that talks about a good deed you did for someone but I think there are a couple things we need to ask ourselves before we post anything....

Is this uplifting or encouraging?

This on is a hard one for me.  First thing I want to do when I have had a bad day or if somebody really annoyed me is vent about it on Facebook or Twitter. But as Christ followers we are to be peace makers.  I mean that comes straight from Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" Matthew 5:9

And in Ephesians, Paul directly speaking to the church says
 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Yea now I am just thinking about how long it would take me to get rid of all the negative crap I have posted on the internet through the years...kinda scary. 

then the other question...

Am I posting this to bring glory to God or myself?

No I am not referring to posting pictures of your children, or of your puppy (that was for me because I do that about everyday) I understand we all have family that wants to see those pictures.  I am talking about what I referenced before like Pictures of us doing mission work or leading worship or posting a status about a good deed we did.  We could definitely argue that it is for the glory of God, "people will see me leading worship and maybe it will motivate them to come to church?" "when people see this status they will see the love of Jesus that I showed to that person"  

Sounds good in our heads but it is actually kind of dumb.  

The love of Christ should be showing through us constantly, we shouldn't feel the need to post something we did on Facebook.  If we live a life of love, situations like that should be an every day occurrence not a "oh I did something nice today, I gotta post it on fb" 

Jesus addresses this on the sermon on the mount as well.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" Matthew 6: 1-4

He also addresses the same thing in Matthew 23

Christ speaks to the disciples the a crowd about the Pharisees, "They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long" (v5) 
(phylacteries and fringes are referring to religious garments).

"...the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (v 11-12)

If we truly believe God is all-knowing and all-powerful...than why should we feel the need to share with everyone good things we do.  God sees our good works and rewards us.  If we are truly following Christ than that should be all the reward we need.  This is something I am struggling with really bad.  My whole life has been focused on pleasing people, if I can let go of that people pleasing need I have and just love them and love God I could live a life more free than I could ever imagine.  I have a feeling I am not the only one in this boat.  If this is something you are struggling with as well, let's pray for each other. Hey look, a positive thing about social media :) 

I will leave you with this...

John 16:24 
"Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

We can never overcome this struggle by our own strength.  We need His help. We just have to ask.

The image I used in this post is not mine. I could not find the original source but I found the photo here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Cost of looking Cute

I have an absolute love for fashion.  I love clothes, I love fashion jewelry, I love handbags, clutches, and all kinds of accessories.  It is a horrible thing to love that stuff, because that is all it is....stuff.  It doesn't love me back and most of the time I get tired of things pretty quickly.  Since  moving 6 months ago, I have gotten rid of 6 garbage bags of stuff.  I am not talking about kitchen size garbage bags, I am talking the giant black garbage bags you rake leaves into. That is a lot of stuff.  After all of that, I still kicked my husband josh out of our master closet to make room for all my stuff.  Having a love for clothes costs a pretty penny, but  I love a bargain, so a majority of those clothes I got rid of were from forever 21 or stores similar.  This way I could buy like 5 or 6 shirts under $100.  What an awesome deal right!? Or so I thought...that awesome deal I thought I was getting for so long was not such an awesome deal for everyone involved in the making of these products.  The reason I was getting such a "good deal" on these products was because the workers making these products were not getting paid a fair wage or not getting paid at all.  Not only are they not getting paid but the working conditions are horrible.  People make cliche statements constantly about child labor and sweatshops but we really need to see the reality of it.  It happens, more than we realize even in here in the United States.  Though not everyone works under these conditions involuntarily for the most part it is because they have no other options.  They work long hours in horrible, and unsafe conditions just to make about $30 a month so they can maybe feed their family.
      I recently saw a video that argued that sweatshops are actually beneficial to the poor.  I will say that this professor did make some decent arguments, but this is a perfect example of the problem with our world.  He makes companies that outsource their manufacturing to other countries sound like heroes when they definitely aren't.  He does state that their motives are not necessarily in the right place, but just because sweatshops are providing a tad bit of income does not mean they are "beneficial." Not only are these people not paid fairly, but they are not treated fairly at all. Some of them undergo severe physical abuse and are exposed to very harsh chemicals.  These places are a safety hazard and I can only imagine that working in one of these places would be damaging to one's self esteem.  This article quotes the National Labor Committee and states "women sewing NBA jerseys make 24 cents per garment that will eventually sell for $140." I can't imagine how long it takes one of these women to sew of those jerseys and all she earns is 24 cents? That is insane!  But you can't just fight for these sweatshops to be shut down and be done with it, where would all of the workers go then? As stated in the video they would have absolutely no income and that isn't what we want for them.  So what is the solution? Yea you guessed it...fair trade. When different fair trade certified companies enter a community, it does a lot more than just provide jobs that pay a fair wage to workers.  It improves the community as a whole.  In this video you can see how one fair trade organization helps communities all around the world.  
     We may think that we can't make a difference, but as consumers we are way more powerful than we think.  Us purchasing products from companies that comply by ethical, sustainable, and fair trade standards, helps these businesses grow, allowing them to employ more people.  Yes, i know...fair trade products are a bit harder to find and a can be a bit more pricey in compared to the prices of stores like forever 21 but think about the people involved in the making of the product.   I also would like to add that "cheap" clothing stores are not the only ones guilty of using sweatshops and child labor.  In this article you will see brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, and Calvin Klein have all been involved in some sketchy situations regarding sweat shops and have found loop holes to get out of these accusations. I love a lot of these brands, and have some of their items in my closet but I found this on the blog Delightfully Tacky (which is awesome by the way) and am saving it as a great reminder...

    I love shopping, I love new clothes, I love feeling "cute" but is my love for a full closet compromising my moral and spiritual convictions? YES! That is why I have been trying to make some serious changes in the way I shop...first off shopping less, and secondly shopping with others in mind.  

P.S. You can definitely look and feel "cute" wearing fair trade and ethical items you just have to know where to look, I will post more on that later :)