Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Social Media (12/01/11)
TITLE: The Pretender
By Ruth Thoutenhoofd
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Half the meals I cook for them taste something like the food in their country of origin because I want them to feel at home. I drive them to school and pick them up. I take Abby to her academy where she gets help with her homework from a professional. I talk to them about their day and give them lunches that they like. I talk to their teachers when they have trouble at school. I work hard to fill in the gap created by having left their parents so very early in their lives. I get paid to do it, but I think they know I also care for them very much and they are happy to be in our home.
So you would think they would come to the family room or kitchen where I usually am and want to talk to me about things in their lives or maybe watch TV - hang out. That’s what my own daughter did. It never happens.
Instead, they go into their room and close the door, sometimes locking it against the world. There, they “talk” to their friends. Curled up in their quilts, their phones in hand, or their laptops beside them, they spend all their free time texting or on their country’s version of Face book. Even in the car their thumbs are busy, flying over tiny keyboards, telling their friends everything and nothing. It is, emotionally, their whole world. Most often I feel like an intruder when I attempt a normal conversation.
Removed from their parents very young, they have little true attachment to them. Their conversations with them are often defensive or rebellious, and usually about money or grades. At times, they claim not to be loved by their parents. (I understand that, when I hear the stories of their early childhood, though I know it probably isn’t really true.)
So they turn to other young people with the same experiences, and they parent each other. Their attachments to each other as a group of friends are desperate, clingy, and fickle. Romances blossom and die, sometimes in weeks. They don’t realise how lonely and needy they really are, because they are in constant contact. Social media makes it possible. But used as it is, it is about as helpful as alcohol would be. The “friendships” don’t fill the deep need in their lives, and I watch sadly.
Confiscating the tools would be cruel, like removing them from their parents all over again. So I pray, and watch God allow even more problems in their lives, and I tell them He wants their attention. On the rare occasions when they do talk honestly with me, I listen. And I pray some more. I pray that they will find a new, true attachment – one with their Creator. I pray for wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. I pray for the love of God to somehow make its way from me to them; that it would penetrate their minds and hearts in spite of the very real “drug” that pretends to comfort them. God is able; I am not.
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