Curator: a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.
Synonyms: manager, guardian, keeper, steward
In this digital age of Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, we have all become curators of what we see. In the art world, a curator carefully selects pieces to put on display for the public to view. In the same way, we have control over a variety of platforms to exhibit chosen words and images to our audience. These displays eventually become extensions of ourselves, a collage that reflects who we are or, perhaps more accurately in some cases, how we would like to be perceived. It is our privilege to assemble these snapshots. They tell our stories.
Social media is a fun way to share what is going on in our lives, to document events and to create connections. The snapshots and words that we select to display are our version of the story we wish to tell with our lives. I wonder if, through all of the filters and pins and hashtags, what we’re really trying to do is point to what is meaningful to us, hoping that others will enjoy it as well. Maybe we’re attempting to knock out all of the mundane gaps of life and assemble a pithy highlight reel of the high notes. Maybe I’m totally wrong. Some people might argue that social media acts like a mask, that it allows us to hide behind the screen and prop up a proposed version of ourselves. On the flip side, though, social media is a collection that makes up the narrative we choose to tell about ourselves.
Inspiration and authenticity
It is a study in perspective. This concept ties deeply to the way I live out my faith. If social media is about connection, if story is fundamentally about connection, and if the way I live out my faith is based on connection to God and to others, then isn’t it all inherently bound together? Instead of curating only through social media, I’ve been trying to think about how to expand this concept into real life. I want the two arenas to complement each other. My daily question to myself is: how do I curate inspiration and authenticity, both through the screen and in real life? What beauty am I offering beyond, say, Instagram, into the tangible? What do others see when they see me, my life, my story?
Of course, our faith is not a performance, but we have been called to be ambassadors of Christ. My personal challenge is to creatively explore what it looks like to curate an authentic life of unconditional love motivated by the Holy Spirit. Getting lots of likes on a post is great, but, in conjunction with that, what value am I offering to others when I interact with them in daily life? We all have so much to give. Time, conversation, space, an armload of gifts and talents – there are endless ways that we can curate an authentic life to inspire others in ways that a tweet just can’t on its own.
The actual plot
Curating authenticity begins with using your space and time as an asset and choosing to see story in the small things. When you start to see value and potential in the small, mundane moments, eventually you will begin to appreciate how small, yet essential, your story is in comparison to the grander one to which we are all intimately bound. We’re all linked, and our stories bounce off each other. Social media is a way of condensing these small moments but the real beauty, the actual plot, unfolds away from the filters in the raw moments of truth. The relationships we build take shape based on what we choose to curate with our lives.
Better than Instagram
Your story is important, but it is also very small. Just like all of our individual stories are connected under one platform such as Instagram or Facebook, all of our life stories, our faith stories, are joined together as part of the whole and they make up a larger story together. What we must ask ourselves, as individuals and small groups and churches, is this: what we are displaying for others to see? Are we curating spaces of love and acceptance and authenticity, or do we display closed circles, a sense of shame, or an unwillingness to share our stories with transparency or wrestle with honest questions? There should be something magnetically attractive about our homes and our communities. Our real lives should look better than they do on Instagram.
I do not say this to induce guilt. Rather, I want to encourage us to expand our vision and explore our stories on a deeper level. This isn’t about something you need to do; it is about who you want to become. It is about living out a meaningful story. This could mean taking a risk or envisioning a new way to live out this next chapter of your life. It means inviting other people in. It means paying attention to the prompting you may be ignoring. It means praying in bold faith. Where do you need to take the next step?