For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” — Galatians 5:13-14
Love others as yourself. This is easy, and hard. If you live to love other people, there has to be a “you” to do the living and the loving first. I am blessed to be a “you” at all; to have been given a body that inhabits the world; to have some sort of heart and mind; to walk a lovely, wondrous, scary place called earth equipped with feet and senses. And I am blessed that there are others; lucky to live among a rich range of people much different than me that help make my “you” so much fuller.
This blog has been many things over the years, pretty random and unbridled. In December 2012 it became a sort of Christmas thing, and in 2013 it’s going to take on something else. Part of my story — part of my “you” — is that I’m one of those young suburban twenty-somethings, so I’m in this process of what I think is “growing up,” and I often think that that’s unique (since I’m the only one on the planet who seems to be mysteriously changing, of course), and that I’m entitled to some amount of sarcastic little quip-complaints about it. It’s totally valid, sure, but I keep boring myself. And if there’s one thing I have learned in creative writing graduate school it’s that if you’re boring yourself, you’re boring everybody else. And boring everybody else doesn’t get you very far if you’re trying to love other people all the time. Because love is exciting, people.
So then the next option is to make my life super exciting and tell everybody about it, an aim for which the internet is the absolute perfect tool. But can we all take a second to admit how actually terrible and stressful that is? For me and you and everyone involved? We are all talking so loud and trying to prove ourselves so much we can’t hear each other, or ourselves. Looking at so many pictures and rarely really seeing each other. No matter how hard we try or how well-intended we are or how much we retweet, there is just simply not enough time and space in the world to give to the amount of information (relational, social, factual, and otherwise) that we encounter online.
In rethinking my web zone — Do I have one at all? Should I quit Facebook and Twitter and everything? Go off the grid and just use land lines and snail mail and smoke signals? — I’ve wrestled with a big question: how do I use a thing that so easily and so often serves as a tool for shameless self-gratification and self-promotion as a way to love others as myself?
No different than any question I ask of any thing, but it’s trickier sometimes. You see a jug of bleach and think “Don’t feed this to any babies”; you see a knife, and all you have to do is not plunge it into anybody’s torso, and everything will be okay. With the internet it gets a little grayer. A knife is a concrete thing, you know — an easy example because I hold it and I hurt someone, or I use it to make them toast. The options are physical and simple. The internet is numbers, waves, super smart geek stuff that I do not understand at all. Remember learning simple machines from fourth or fifth grade? Pulley, lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, screw, and wedge. You don’t see Google in there anywhere. This means that judging the amount of work that’s really going on in the interwebs is far more difficult than anything before.
But I’m not worried about how much work is getting done. I’m worried about what kind of work. How do I make my online actions loving? The answer to my question is just another question: who is operating the machine and in which direction? A wedge looks an awful lot like a knife if you’re driving it down into someone’s heart. Guns don’t kill people, people do. Etcetera.
The only answer is to use this thing for shameless others-gratification and others-promotion. If I’m all about other people, and I’m writing a blog, then my blog should be all about other people. So then, it really is a simple machine: two posts a week. On Mondays I share something (organization, product, place, experience, pick a noun — this space is pretty open-ended) that I think is cool and worth talking about. On Thursdays I feature guests, people I know somehow who I think are doing something cool and worth talking about, and get them to share themselves.
Love is exciting people. Love alerts others to more good in the world. So that’s what this is all about: I’m trying to tell you about some good things that are going on on planet earth, because — I’ll just say it once here and never again, I promise — I love you. It’s weird, I know; I know you’re gonna pull the but-we’ve-never-met-or-hardly-spent-any-time-together-ever card but so what, I do. This is for you, and I hope you’re excited.