I know that science talks about dopamine. It’s a brain chemical. It makes us feel good, sometimes in an addictive kind of way. I know that it’s a driving force in social media design. Every “Like” is intended to help us feel good, to send a burst of dopamine to the brain. Many of us (because I understand from the inside), are aware of the likes, are excited by the bursts of being known.
However, this focus on being “liked” is deadly to sustained thinking, to quiet reflection, to the writing I do, to the reading we do, to the conversations we have, to the life we are called to live.
As we read about the life of Jesus, he received lots of affirmation and lots of condemnation. But he was calibrated to one voice for his affirmation.
At the beginning of his ministry, after his baptism, before his temptation, he hears this: “You are my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”
What difference might it make before our temptations to know that we are hearing, “You are my beloved”?
What if we gave up affirmation for Lent?
We could do it simply by posting nothing. We could post something and walk away. We could schedule a social appointment. “At 9am, after I do the other things that matter, a read or a run or a conversation or a write, I have an appointment.”
Because no one would really notice if I don’t say anything until after 9 am. Or whenever. Because the people I scroll past don’t notice anything. I am aware, but no one else is aware of my lack of awareness.
And even as we think about moving away from social media affirmation, what if we began to understand that God is affirming us? What if, by your very existence, before you do anything! What if, as you serve and encourage, God says, “Well done!!!!” even before we are done.