I promise I know how to spell the word “disintegration”.
This title is hyphenated for emphasis, so that it reads the same way preacher Mark Christian enunciated it during his sermon on Easter morning. It refers to a loss of cohesion and unity in a whole, a separation of individual parts that used to work together. In this case, the parts it referred to were the metaphorical bits and pieces of personality that make up an individual.
A few hours after Easter church service, I came across a meme on Twitter (as one does) and, after deeming it comical with a silent snort (as one does), sent it on to a friend. Except that I accidentally selected the wrong message sending it to my “Storms Clan” family group chat. This particular meme is pictured below:
It’s got all the workings of a quality viral post: relatable content, random references to pop culture, and credentials from the original poster, so we have no doubt of their expertise in their field. Surely “feelboss” knows what he’s talking about. He’s the boss!
I sent the meme on to the appropriate contact and apologized once again to my family for sending them accidental memes. Later, my mother gently chided my meme-sharing habits for the attitude behind posts like the one above. “Everyone has private thoughts, that’s normal,” she said, “but sometimes I can notice you ‘dis-integrating’.”
Most people who know me know that my social media site of choice is Twitter. I like to think I can be pretty funny, and as an aspiring writer I enjoy conveying concepts as succinctly as possible via the written word. Occasionally I’ll get compliments on a Tweet, and it all goes straight to my head. However, after again hearing about dis-integration, I began to question how my digital personal compares to the irl Nathan (irl = “in real life”, for anyone not hip to the lingo). The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could differentiate between two me’s: the one who speaks and the one who texts.
I don’t know what it is about being behind a screen that makes me bolder or lowers my filter for thoughts as they slip out of my mind. As my wise mother said, everyone has private thoughts, and that’s completely fine. If they weren’t private, we’d probably all be in a lot of trouble. However, holding on to some private thoughts for too long develops them into secret thoughts, the ones that, in this age of technology, we can instantly share with specific individuals or group chats (which I’m convinced are a plague to humanity, but that’s a topic for another blog post), trusting that they won’t be spread around. Now, I have a healthy degree of distrust in technology, exemplified by the tape layered over my laptop camera in case anyone comes a-hacking, but I don’t really worry about what issues these secret thoughts might develop in my mind when they become a pattern.
In the age of self-deprecating memes and nonchalant jokes about mental illness, negative thoughts easily become habitual as they are slowly ingrained into our heads. “I’m a good writer!” becomes “I’d rather write and avoid face-to-face conversation” which becomes “I’m too socially awkward to be out in public”. When I allow myself to disintegrate, I become two-faced and hypocritical, usually without even realizing it! I can even encourage disintegration in others by constantly sharing pictures like the one above.
Perhaps I simply need to ask myself how I want and need to act, across the board. Whether I’m behind a device or irl, who can I commit to truly being one hundred percent of the time? A social media comedian? A sarcastic, surly child? A good Christian? That last one seemed like the right Jesus-answer, but writing this, I found that I still needed a better one.
In Mark Christian’s Easter sermon, he also referenced 1 Corinthians 15:1: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I have preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand”. That’s what I want to be: firmly planted on the gospel truth of Jesus, not so that others see me, compliment me, pity me, or anything else that my disintegrated selves might desire, but so that others might see past me to the God of the universe. I’m rarely, if ever, a clear conduit that others might see Christ through, but I trust that if He is allowed to be integral to my being, He will make Himself evident.