Beyond the Byline: In the world of technology, are we trying to be who we aren’t?

By Melanie Mizenko - [email protected] | March 29th, 2016 6:45 pm

During one of the Easter services I attended over the weekend, one priest’s homily had a punchline that made me laugh. It also gave me some pause.

The joke goes as follows:

Jesus and Moses were out on a golf course, Pebble Beach, to be exact. It was hole No. 8, roughly 427 yards. Moses hits the ball from the tee to the fairway with a 5-iron, no problem. Jesus, quite sure of himself, takes a 9-iron and swings, only to send it into the water.

“I’ll get it,” Moses says. He walks to the water, taps his stick down twice and parts the water hazard. He retrieves the ball, taps the stick to close the water and drops it in front of Jesus, advising him to use a better club.

Jesus tells him, “No, no, bad shot,” and the shot happens again — same thing, into the water. Moses yet again retrieves the golf ball. By the time he returns, the foursome behind them are coming up to the tee and Moses, now slightly irritated, urges Jesus to change the club.

Jesus again defies his request and swings, only to have the same thing happen for the third time.

Moses stands with his arms folded, now embarrassed because of the crowd, and says, “I’m not getting it.”

“No problem,” says Jesus, who walks on the water to get the ball.

Someone in the foursome then exclaims, “Who does he think he is, Jesus the Christ?”

Moses, flustered at the miracle, replies, “No, he is Jesus the Christ; he’s trying to be Tiger Woods.”

Do we spend too much time trying to be people we’re not? With social media’s photo-sharing app filters named “vintage” or “classic,” are we really finding true happiness in life?

We beg for “likes” on Instagram using hashtags like #noregrets, #TagsForLikes, #follow4follow or #like4like. I know I’m guilty of doing it — struggling to find a balance between a sans-filter life and watching my phone notifications blow up with likes on the recently posted photo. I find myself grappling with telling my 20-year-old sister to put the phone down as she’s taking dozens upon dozens of selfies while we’re in a car, or letting her go and be a 20-year-old.

As I get older — and really, I’m not that old, 24 going on 44 — I look at those gossip websites with those click-bait headlines telling me to see what 13-year-olds look like today, compared to what 13-year-olds looked like 20 years ago. I often cry inside for what this world has become.

I remember in college I had a professor — thanks Dr. Michelle Schmude — who warned us about what we put on our social media sites and how posts could come back to haunt us. Immediately, I can remember going back to my Myspace and Bebo — (Who remembers them?) — and the earlier days of Facebook, cringing while I looked at those awful raw and unfiltered photos adding to the guilt of incriminating statuses forever on the Internet for anyone doing a Google search to see.

And now thanks to Facebook’s “on that day” feature, we can erase old embarrassing statuses, photos or likes that you don’t want bosses, friends, the new boyfriend and potential new family members to see. I erase more statuses than I’d like to admit, thank you very much.

It’s taken a cancer diagnosis for me to put down the camera phone — unless you have a flat tire in Upstate New York — and see things through my eyes instead of my 5.7-inch camera screen.

Throughout the diagnosis, I’ve been an open book for coworkers, family, friends and anyone else who wants to hear me talk. Sure it’s not pretty like a filtered sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s gruesome and real. It’s part of who I am and I’m not ashamed to hide it. Sometimes it takes a diagnosis to see yourself from the inside out and accept everything as it comes instead of trying to make something perfect.

Being yourself — being true to physical and emotional scars — opens your heart to lessons and meetings that would otherwise not happen.

I try now to live life everyday, as it comes, in the present. I try to no longer view myself through a moon-colored Instagram filter.

Sometimes — without fail — I’ll spill wine on a white blouse, or be like my mom, Susan, who I love unconditionally, and end up “eating off my sweater” and be OK with it. Sure, emulate and honor the person or celebrity you want to be — mine is actress Jayne Atkinson — but do it with fault. Realize they took the right steps but faltered as well.

It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to get B’s instead of A’s. As long as you do your best and not someone else’s best.

If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you’ll miss out on the person you were meant to be: a survivor of life.

8/1/2014 The Times Leader AIMEE DILGER The Times Leader AIMEE DILGER

By Melanie Mizenko

[email protected]

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko