Technology is ever-changing, constantly morphing into something newer, better, smarter, faster. Just when you think you’ve got something cool and hip, another version comes out, and suddenly you’re the loser with an iPhone 4 while your mom rocks an iPhone 5. (True story!) But whether or not Siri is whispering sweet nothings into your ear, whether or not you’ve got the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire, or a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, we can at least all convene on one common technological advancement: email. Everybody emails, right? Yet with all the geekiness surrounding us, some of us still cannot grasp the basic dos and don’ts of electronic mail.
At work this week, the worst email don’t happened right before my eyes — and all I could do was sit there with my mouth wide open staring at my computer screen. Without going into details, a high-up, super important, VIP leader of the company sent out an email to about 3,000 employees in a particular division. Well, one of those employees chose to forward the email to some colleagues, but accidentally clicked Reply All.
Yep, the reply went to all 3,000 of us, including that high-up, super important, VIP leader.
The gist of the email? Oh, it’s painful to even relay this. She basically asked how much money said leader makes to have time to send out these emails. And then went on to dog him and other leaders at the firm.
Now you get the mouth-wide-open response, right?
Email 101 (taught by Professor Taylor Swift): Never ever, ever, ever click Reply All to mass emails. Especially not at work. Like ever.
As I stared at my laptop screen, slowly regained the ability to talk, and joined the growing buzz of colleagues discussing the email fiasco, I sighed. That Reply All button will get you every time.
It got me thinking about how many times we Reply All in life. Those moments when you’re having a conversation with yourself about personal stuff — emotions, private issues, things you’d normally keep to yourself. And then suddenly you find yourself blabbing about it to people around you… and sometimes regretting it. With social media this is even easier to do. Just a few keystrokes and a click, and suddenly your 1,000 Facebook friends know everything you’re thinking.
Lately I’ve been feeling a little pressured to “be quiet” about dating. The pressure isn’t targeted at me alone, but at the entire Christian single population. It seems the church would rather us just keep quiet, keep to ourselves. We’re made to feel ashamed if we ever talk about singleness or dating. We’re made to feel like my colleague likely felt the moment she realized she’d clicked the infamous Reply All. But, did we really do anything wrong? We’re just sharing how we feel.
“Just keep that stuff inside,” they say. “Don’t talk about it so much. You seem obsessed. Talk about other things.”
The blogger in me is annoyed to hear those statements. The woman in me is sad. The friend in me is outraged.
Why can’t we talk about it?
A phenomenon I’ve encountered in Christian circles is that dating is somehow wrong. Dating (or talking too much about it) makes you promiscuous, a whore, a slut, a heathen. As Christians, we should focus on God and on marriage. Dating around lets “the enemy” in. We should wait for that one person we’ll spend the rest of our lives with. And in the meantime, let’s not talk about it.
To put it mildly, this mindset ticks me off. I’ve never actually been to a psychiatrist, but I can say with 99.9% assurance that bottling up your emotions isn’t healthy. There is freedom in conversation. And that conversation can include Christian singles.
I’ve always been pretty open about discussing my single life, particularly since I’ve started this blog. And I can honestly say it’s liberating. Speaking from your heart, speaking your mind, speaking to others who have been there or who are there now — it’s all good. And it’s all good for you.
So is there such a thing as oversharing? When it comes to our emotions, hopes and dreams as singles, is there danger in the Reply All?
I suppose to some extent there is. You never want to be that freak that tells everyone everything. You don’t want to walk around spitting out random sentences about how lonely you are, how much you want a boyfriend or girlfriend, how you cry yourself to sleep at night while holding a stuffed dolphin named Nancy. And you definitely don’t want to overshare on a first date. Red flag alert!
But don’t let anyone tell you that being single is something you should be ashamed of, or that wanting to be in a relationship is a bad thing. Because being single is awesome. You’re not somehow “broken” just because you’re not married. And longing for a relationship simply means you’re normal. We all want love. It’s just about getting there in a healthy, rational way.
This blog post is a stretch, I know. But it’s just a glimpse into how my mind works. One minute I’m laughing (and gasping in disbelief) at an unintended Reply All sent by a colleague, and the next minute I’m fired up about how Christian singles are expected to just keep quiet about dating and relationships. Regardless of how I got here, I’m glad we’re talking about it.
Because the conversation is important.
Because the plight of the single person matters.
Because the pressure to keep silent about our emotions and desires isn’t okay.
Because the stigma that if you’re not married something is wrong with you is completely false and, frankly, irresponsible.
So speak up! Join the conversation. For once, Reply All! Then go home and think and pray and do all the quiet stuff, too. But don’t ever feel like there is something inherently wrong or shameful about dating.
Because there simply isn’t.