When Miley Cyrus deleted her Twitter account and left two million followers to wallow in her wake, she claimed that the service pushed her to live, not for moments, but for people.
“I’m done trying to please…” she rapped in her YouTube explanation, “I’m living for me.”
An icon of the tween generation, Cyrus set an example that was met with either cries of disappointment or cheers of praise for her reasoning.
But is it, after all, such a bad idea to live for others?
Cyrus seems to think so. The Internet, she reasons, has sabotaged her ability to enjoy her own life and the simple but genuine moments it includes along the way. By sharing these personal events and thoughts with a worldwide audience, her life became another show, one where she was pressured to perform for her fans while avoiding the wrath of tabloids.
So should other tweeting tweens disconnect from the social to spend more time loving life?
The answer is: it’s not about life. It’s about joy.
Foremost, Cyrus should be living for God, rather than people or moments. The Bible teaches that it’s a mistake to believe that we can live for ourselves and find happiness. Many Christians are well aware of the J.O.Y. mentality (Jesus, Others, Yourself), which teaches life’s most basic priorities.
For Cyrus, the horror of having a personal life dissected by tabloids made her question if sharing with others is worth it at all. The pop star reevaluated who she was living for and what she was tweeting for, deciding to quit Twitter all-out, giving up a valuable account in return for personal privacy.
Like a child who was called names at school and runs home, slams the bedroom door and cries, “I’m never going to school ever again,” negative experiences can affect our judgement. It’s learning how to protect ourselves against insults or other threats that allow us to live normal lives. On Twitter, that protection comes in the form of locked accounts. Either-or decisions are juvenile responses to any dilemma, often made in the heat of emotion.
Regular people sometimes withdraw their social presence online, disbanding their accounts, because it’s either one more thing to worry about, it’s frivolous, or perhaps like Cyrus, they’ve been hurt and they don’t feel welcome anymore.
Like it or not, the social web is increasingly becoming a more crucial fabric of life. To exclude yourself is to rebel, to hide, to shy away. Now days having a Facebook profile is like having a social security card. It’s standard fare. Life online is becoming just as important as life offline.
Cyrus, like many Americans, needs to find out how to balance the two effectively. Extremes come in two forms: completely secluding yourself from reality or obliterating any online social presence altogether. Such decisions sever our ability to learn and live in an increasingly technological world.
The Latin phrase “carpe diem” teaches us to sieze the moment, but it’s of little importance if we don’t know what we’re seizing it for.
If we’re grasping at every moment to live it first for God and then for others, there’s no greater purpose. If we’re seizing the day to savor it for ourselves, then living for moments and “living for me” will never bring the satisfaction we long for.