In a world that provides so many avenues for sight, I fear we have raised a generation haunted by the sensation of invisibility. It’s no surprise to me that this has birthed what I feel to be a nationwide loss of identity, as well as a deep searching for the answer to the question of “Who am I?” Followed by a barrage of avenues that are leaving a trail of more confusion than clarity in vision.
I believe it was the famous actor and comedian, Robin Williams, who coined a phrase that in my opinion could be paraphrased, “loneliness is being in a room full of people and still feeling unseen.” Another well-known actor and comedian, Jim Carrey, confirmed such a truth, when in his famous speech he said, "Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.” Oddly enough, these two widely adored and comically loved people, were said to both struggle with depression throughout their private lives through a very public persona. So, I listen when such admired and well-loved people seen by all the world speak from experience of not being visible.
Robin Williams had millions of followers, fans and dozens of connections and relationships with a variety of people in the industry. Yet he died alone, via suicide.
Jim Carrey movies continue to make generations of people laugh out loud, yet for years he openly admitted to battling with depression. He was even medicated on and off for years of his career.
So why, are two vividly seen individuals discussing invincibility?
We were made with a deep need to be seen and I whole heartedly believe it was intended to be on a spiritual level, we somehow just got it mixed up with physical sight. I fear we have taken our misplaced voids of sight and plugged them into a computer trying to fix our focus.
There are thousands of social media platforms where people can connect, share their thoughts and lives, and be seen, yet suicide seems to be one of the leading causes of death in our nation. Many suicides, according to multiple statistical websites say that “depression” is usually the leading cause of suicide. When I spent some time researching about depression, some of the main reasons that kept popping up were listed as being abused, getting older, having health complications, the death or a loss of a loved one, gender issues, (aside from possible chemical reactions and or familial genes playing a part). When I took a closer look at these things, I realize that many of them are rooted in identity.
Abuse, especially verbal and emotional, can leave people feeling unsure of themselves. It can make them insecure, codependent and often produce feelings of unworthiness to leave their abuser. Therefore, victims of abuse often get stuck in cycles and patterns, with some never finding freedom from it. Even for the ones who “get away,” they struggle with being known only as a victim or a survivor. They have trouble finding out who they are apart from the abuse and their abuser, mainly because it is the makeup of so much of who they are/were for years.
A lost identity is formed as a result – yet the onlookers say they need to make more connections and go to more support groups.
Getting older can leave us feeling useless, alone, and possibly uncared for at times. Elderly people can face a loss of good health, cognitive ability to show the intellect they once had, and can sometimes be placed in a corner to be forgotten when their lives become a nuisance to their busy families. They lose a sense of identity based of who they were and no longer seem to be. This leaves them searching for their worth in this season of life.
A lost identity is formed as a result. Yet people urge them to learn how to use social media or connect with old friends, get a hobby etc.
Gender issues seems to be one of the biggest avenues in this modern time that plays a colossal role in a loss of identity. From children to grown men, we see people searching for who they are. Confused by the gender God made them. Confused by their desires for the opposite. They even battle searching for the acceptance and or rejection of the world around them that see them.
A loss of identity is formed as a result. While the world tells them what they should or should not do to be proud of this confusion by giving it a name and connecting with a group.
Many of the reasons for depression have roots in identity and in my opinion, identity has a lot to do with how we see ourselves and how we desire for others to see us as well. I find this interesting in a world where billions of people are connected through the click of a button, lives on full display, opinions known on multiple platforms, list of followers and likes are increasing by the second – yet the struggle for identity is increasing still.
Could there be a deeper reason? ...I think so.
I must agree with both genius comedic actors mentioned earlier, in that the sight of others can’t always make us feel seen. Does your visibility in this digital age help you have a better understanding of who you are? Do you feel the visibility makes you feel known and loved?
My guess is no, or the struggle wouldn’t still be there.
Many people utilize social media as a drug while giving it a name that sounds acceptable:
I use it to stay current on what is going on.
I use it to stay connected to old friends.
I use it to share my photos with family.
I use it to voice my opinions.
I use it….
I use it to be seen and to see. Let’s call a spade a spade.
Being seen doesn’t translate to being known and I feel our desire to be seen has more to do with being Intimately known in a way that births feelings of being acknowledged, loved, and validated, but more importantly, feeling certain of who we are and what we were created for.
This is where my thoughts and heart were led to the Passion Translation of a verse that has brought me much comfort in this passing season of lost identity.
Psalm 139:1-7, “Lord, you know EVERYTHING there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you UNDERSTAND my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so INTIMATELY AWARE of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book, and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know EVERY step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. You have laid your hand on me! This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your UNDERSTANDING of me brings me wonder and strength. Where could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face?”
Reading these verses grazed upon the ache in my heart that perhaps we have lost sight for the focus of being seen.
Believer are caught in the crossfire of vision and sight…
The smiles I see on camera of people suffering deep inside.
The moments I see were missed for having had to pull out a camera or make a quick post.
The family dinners I see were interrupted by a notification ding.
The self-esteems I see that are lifted and lost from a stray comment or lack thereof.
The personal struggles I see aired in passive aggressive posts that perforate.
The way we feel loved by our connections, until a real-life struggle leaves us all alone.
The deep jealousies I see grow in people from comparisons and ill- assumed realities.
The lists are ongoing daily, and while they are full of increases, they only seem heavier in depletion.
Perhaps our deep need to be seen, isn’t a mistake, it’s just misplaced. When we are seen by a Savior the social sight isn’t so satisfying anymore. This is because He is the only one who can make certain our identity. The Bible says He knew us before He formed us (Psalm 139:16). Our gender, family, location, appearance, personality…they were all thought about beforehand. They were planned to be the way they are by a God who spoke you into existence. God doesn’t make mistakes. We do, when we try to find our identity in everything but in Him.
Lord, isolate us until we feel fully seen by You. Then send us out into the world to share the visibility, instead of seeking for the world to make us more visible.