Creating Identity | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
February 2012

Creating Identity

By: Alexis Williams

I grew up in the time when internet was just coming onto the scene. AOL showed up on CD-ROMs to be installed on our desktops. The sound of dial-up was cool, not annoying. The best parts were the chat rooms. There was a chat room for every category of person you could possibly imagine (and some categories you probably don’t want to imagine). You could get online, sign into a chat room, and be whoever you wanted to be. You could talk to people that were from all over the nation…at least they claimed to be. We weren’t smart enough to be nervous about what was said over the chat, because it wasn’t really real…and we would say things in those chat windows that we would never say in “real” life. My best friend (at the time) and I would sit in my den for hours talking in the chat rooms as one person. Half of the fun was creating an alternate story for us. Two pre-teens, pretending to be more experienced than we really were, creating an ideal physical image to describe, and gathering information from others. (Can I get a LOL if you know what “a/s/l?” means?)

Now we live in the Facebook world. Facebook with its pictures and status updates must mean that people are more honest than they were back then, right? Nah. There are still people out there pretending to be someone they are not, even those of us being “honest” are pretty selective about what goes forth into the universe. We choose an identity for a Facebook page and often we become something that we couldn’t be in the “real” world. Maybe some people become who they wish they could be but lack the boldness. Or maybe some people become who they think their friends want them to be. I don’t know. I just know that there are often times when I see someone’s status and I am shocked that they would say that, based on who they are when we are face to face.

[Warning: There are still people on Facebook and other sites that are pretending to be someone else in order to prey on the innocent. Please use as much privacy settings as possible and encourage those around you to do the same…especially minors.]

This goes way beyond the internet, most people are so careful to only present a certain facade to the world around them. So why do so many of us feel the need to be something other than whom we truly are? What is so scary about being real and vulnerable, and ugly, and beautiful, and raw? We keep to the superficial because it’s simple and safe. But the reality is that we are depriving the world of our light, of who we are truly created to be. Why be something we are not when God, who is infinitely creative, made us to be who we are and that is so much more interesting than average?

Discussion Question: How can the Body Of Christ, as found in worshipping communities and small groups, become the safe place for people to be real?

See more devotions from Alexis and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.