I’ve been looking at them their whole lives. It’s hard not to look at them. After all, they are begging me to do it.
“Look at me! Look at me!”
When any of my five kids say these words what follows is something they are proud of; a new skill mastered, a funny-ish trick, something they want to show off for approval. If it is something dangerous I will tell them to stop. Normally, though, it isn’t anything dangerous. So I’ll either laugh or say “That’s cool” or “Good job” and then normally go back to whatever it was I was doing before they gained my attention. I don’t mind these interruptions at all; I love my children and want them keep me in the loop whenever they learn how to do new, interesting things. Kids will be kids.
The “Look at me!” phenomenon isn’t a kids-only thing, though. At least it isn’t anymore.
There was once a time when a person could have an amazing meal without taking a picture of it for the sole purpose of letting everyone know how amazing it was. Looking at a friend’s or family member’s vacation pictures used to be done in person a few weeks afterward and you never saw the vacation pictures of a guy you knew in elementary school who you wouldn’t recognize if he walked right by you at the grocery store. Good (or bad)news about jobs, kids, church, or health was once something we shared with those closest to us. And we used to make actual verbal statements without feeling the need to check back every few minutes to see how many likes, comments, or retweets they received. (Full disclosure: This paragraph was written by a guy who is going to share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter–and who hopes others will do the same.)
Social media has caused us to revert back to the childhood habit of saying “Look at me! Look at me!”
Is there anything wrong with this new national pastime; this attention-seeking obsession?
John the Baptist would have a good answer for this question. You remember John the Baptist, don’t you? He’s the man Jesus said was the greatest ever to be born of woman. He pointed people in the direction of Jesus and preached so boldly that he lost his head.
John’s followers once pointed out to him Jesus had gotten into the baptizing business and that all men were coming to Him. It’s possible these informants thought John would jump up and start yelling “Look at me! Look at me!” in an attempt to regain his lost popularity. Instead, John gave them a lesson in who was most important and in doing so gave us a memorable statement we can use when we are tempted to exalt ourselves, our families, our churches, our…whatevers.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The “He” is Jesus. The “I” is John the Baptist (and me and you).
A child saying “Look at me! Look at me!” is usually cute and endearing. An adult saying “Look at me! Look at me!” can sometimes be arrogant and idolatrous.
I’m not saying we should stop sharing pictures, thoughts, or good news. By all means–share away! What I am saying is those of us who follow Jesus must guard our hearts against the strange temptations offered to us by the technology we control.
This will require less “Look at me! Look at me!” and more “Look at Him! Look at Him!”
He must increase, but I must decrease.