No doubt this has been an intense two months to say the least. First it was the Harambe Gorilla incident, followed by the horrific death of the 2-year old in Florida, (both accompanied with heartbreaking parent shaming), then the Orlando Nightclub shooting leaving 49 people murdered, the graphic video of Alton Sterling being shot point blank range, followed by an even more tragic, live video of Philando Castile and then the senseless attack in Dallas, with 11 people shot and five Dallas Police Officers murdered at a protest I thought about attending. It is a complete understatement when I say, this is just too much!
Watching all those graphic videos, various news commentary, protests, posts and retweets, over and over again took my mind and emotions from sadness, anger, and despair to helplessness and hopelessness. And while this was the toll it took on me, it wasn’t until the Philando Castile live video that I realized these were the same effects it was having on my children.
My oldest son Kahlil told me about Castile video before I knew it existed. He was supposed to be getting ready for his 6:30 am football practice, but instead he was on Snapchat. He came in my room and said, ‘Hey Mom, did you see that video of the guy being shot by the police?’ I immediately thought he was talking about Alton Sterling, but then he showed me. My heart dropped… damn, another one?
I asked him what he thought and although he didn’t say much, I could feel his sadness and confusion. I tried to explain to him and his brothers the full scope of it all, but it wasn’t until he said, “Mom that could have been Taylor in the backseat with Dad!” that I literally broke down in the process. I started crying and got so choked up, I could barely talk. You never want your kids to think, what if that were me, or Dad or my cousins? Or could that they be next? Who wants to live in that kind of fear?
I don’t think people realize the mental trauma that can be caused by watching those videos along with the comments, disagreements, arguments, racism, pain, suffering and violence that are usually associated with them. All of them! Reading comments of parents shaming other parents instead of encouraging them, reading text messages from young people telling their parents from a bathroom stall that they love them for the last time, watching live videos of people being murdered over nothing, and seeing people run for their lives while police officers who are trying to protect them fall beside them in death on live television is traumatizing! And some of my friends have gone from stages of trauma to absolute terror.
While I don’t want to become numb and naïve to what happens in the world or, on the other hand, think that tragedy is a step away, I refuse to think, or have my children think that this is the life that God has promised them. So my answer to preserving our hope and faith, while protecting our sanity, is to unplug! Don’t get me wrong, social media is not the root of all evil. But this world has become so noisy with information overload, that I think you can admit, sometimes we just need a break from it all!
It is my goal & desire to get my family back on track spiritually! We need to re-focus on God and what His Word says about the life he promised us and really spend time as a family, enjoying ourselves. It was our routine that each of us had to read the Bible for at least 30 minutes a day, but I know personally I haven’t even done that for a while. And if the first thing Kahlil did was log on to Snapchat at 6:30 in the morning, instead of praying or making sure he was ready, reaffirms that we’ve strayed too far.
So for the next 30 days, we will be lingering in His Word, memorizing & meditating on Bible verses, riding bikes to the park (without stopping for a selfie), going swimming (without posing for Instagram), reading a book (without tweeting it to the world), playing a family game of basketball (without announcing the score on Facebook), baking a cake (wait a minute, I need Pinterest for this!), playing board games, watching family movies & reminiscing, calling people I haven’t talked to in a while (instead of texting), and countless other activities…all void of media interaction!
As for me and my weekly blog posts, well I bought a timer! LOL! The Internet has a way of sucking us in and taking far more of our time than we intend (or maybe can admit to!) So I am going to set it for an hour a day and when it dings, times up, log off! (After all, I gotta lead by example, I can’t be telling my kids to stay off technology and then they see me on it!)
Unplugging from the noise and plugging into what really matters, I already know that our hopelessness and heartache from all those tragedies will be restored with God’s Hope, Grace and Love!! I’ll be praying for you as well!
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.