“Kris has a dragon on on her shirt!” Tom shouted across my eighth grade English class. I simultaneously sunk low in my shirt and seat. A tiny one inch misplaced reptile had landed me in the not “IT” group. Entry into that elite group was relegated to those who could afford an alligator, IZOD shirt. Perhaps this is why I still hate reptiles. My fate was sealed. What a shamed 13 year old couldn’t articulate that day stole the joy from the Sears shopping trip with my dad. It was a celebration with a double scoop of ice cream because his business was doing better and time together, before an inevitable separation and divorce, ripped my fragile world apart.

Madeline was the IT girl in junior high. She was everything I wasn’t. Her life, hair and thighs that allowed light between them clear to her skinny ankles and Adidas clad feet. She had cool friends who clustered together by twos. I didn’t know how much I was the object of the IT group’s amusement but felt it with every whispered turn of their backs as I walked through the metal framed classroom door. By that time, I’d moved to oversized t-shirts and a green army jacket. 

Selfies were around long before smartphones that made us socially unsocial. I know this because Siri told me so and Alexa confirmed it. Our selfies cost some coins and happened in half curtained photo booths. We’d spin the chair full force to top height. Because after all, who wanted a shot of your head and nostrils at a precarious angle — RIGHT?? Your InstaKodak moment captured your zits, half closed eyes and food in your braces. No delete, no filter and no refund.

We are in a social media world that has augmented self and virtual reality. Our post worthy perceptions, immediacy, expectancy of the invite, and 24/7 realization that the party went on and tag – you’re not IT. We have a longing for belonging. And even if these are diametrically opposed to who we inherently are, the need for acceptance and worth overrides core beliefs. 

My two daughters grow up in this world as do entire generations of kids whose parents thought call waiting was high tech. Coffee was for adults, came in cans and was never iced. We wonder why our kids won’t take a family pic but will use a filter to moon pie their eyes, freckle their cheeks and backdrop them in Paris. Here’s the truth. They have a hunger in their hearts to know who they are and where they belong in this world. Social media creates a “FEEDing” frenzy with an insatiable craving. With more sugar highs than a venti something, generations are swallowing lies and ingesting worthlessness. 

During college, I was working at a clothing store when Madeline came in. As I rung her up, she started talking and asked if I remembered her. I must have said yes, because she apologized. Yep, didn’t know why she treated me the way she had, but she was sorry. Pretty big thing to do at the time.

Every day, our children will be wounded and with the veil of anonymity, there’s no empathy or compassion. In a selfie world, to each his own. Stay with me here, let’s be the change. Don’t stand down when your kids are lost. Hit your knees and pray. Then rise up and LIFT THEM UP. Put your phone down and listen with your eyes. Model Jesus’ love and compassion. And in doing so, you will feed their souls and fill their hungry hearts.

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