One interesting behavior I’ve noticed increasingly, admittedly due to social media, is the tendency of the living to treat the deceased as perfect. It goes beyond respectful tribute to the point of near deification. A mother who was forgotten, an acquaintance who was ignored, a friend left in the shadows of life, a father/husband who was never respected and treated with disdain… they all suddenly become patron saints in the ever-increasing need for public recognition and affirmation.
Why has the need for dramatic representation seemingly grown exponentially with social media?
The more we have the more we realize that we will never be fulfilled. It is compounded and put on display for the entire world to see as our individual platform grows steadily through various outlets. Conversations that were once confined to family or close confidantes are now tossed into the open in order to fulfill this unending desire to be known.
We are lonely.
Americans have been sold on this idea that consuming greater products and gaining more wealth will somehow bring fulfillment. A recent conversation with one of my closest friends went something like this: “I automatically know I will not get along with someone, if one of the first questions out of their mouth is ‘What do you do?’”
Often, we jockey for importance in a game of “Who has the biggest [fill in your favorite analogy]” from the beginning of a friendship or relationship. Meanwhile, we fail at ever truly knowing a person. There seems to always be an agenda in our interactions… the businessperson builds superficial relationships to advance a career… the religious person builds superficial relationships to evangelize… the potential partner builds a romantic relationship with the purpose of receiving self-fulfillment…
We are still alone.
Maybe we are doing this all wrong. Perhaps, the reason we search for such significance in the life of those who have passed is because we subconsciously realize how worthless our lives of consuming have become. We not only consume products, we also consume people in how we treat them. Instead of real friendships, we have a roster of people who have set purposes in our lives.
Maybe… in a world distracted with meaningless consumption… we are meant to give.
Maybe that is the answer.
“Give, and it will be given to you… for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” -Luke 6:38