A lot of my friends have been fasting social media lately. To be honest, I wasn't comfortable with that. I'm in a few different group chats with various lovely ladies as well as social apps and platforms and to be honest, their absence created some boredom for me. I mean, I know I could have just picked up the phone or texted them, but there's something about social media that has created a false sense of importance in my life. Maybe even in yours.
And I had to ask myself the question, why?
Why was I bothered? Why was the absence of second to second video messages or hearts or dings such a big deal to me? When had it become a big deal?
In this day and age, it would be difficult to find someone who isn't connected on some sort of social media. Although these sites do have their many benefits, it's easy to get too caught up in them. So we have to make it important to figure out the right ways to have a health relationship with social media. An unhealthy relationship with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can create false senses of reality within your your friendships, your self esteem and your perspective on life. Yeah, that statement seems far fetched, but did you know that, according to TIME magazine, 28% of iPhone users check their social media before even getting out of bed in the morning. Talk about a false sense of importance!
We're all aware of that social media can be (medically) addictive. It's not far fetched. It's reality, but when we care more about the appearance of reality, rather than the actual thing, it's not just a danger to our social lives, it can also be a danger to our spiritual lives as well.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" -2 Corinthians 10:5
It's not productive or God-centered to focus on things that are not real. In truth, what we are really searching for as we scroll is a sense of connection, identity and worth. This is why I think I had an irritation at my friends who fast for weeks at a time. We don't live in the same cities and their absence from apps made me feel lonely and disconnect. I felt social media was a convenient tool to keep in touch and stay relevant in each other's lives, since we can't connect often in person because of our distance. Notice I said, "feel". This wasn't at all the case, however. One friend, in particular, called me just to tell me I was on her mind. She was using her time to refocus her attention on her family and to plug into her new surroundings without being distracted by images and updates of the home she had to leave behind. Keeping up with me would always be a priority, so she decided to call me instead of an impersonal text message or casual IG comment. Imagine my embarrassment! All this time, I was thinking about the pictures of her move and her family that I hadn't seen and the pictures and video of my family that she hadn't seen. But I was on her mind, which is more special than any notification could ever be! So if we dig deep and welcome some truth, there are many things we are searching for that social media cannot give us, because we already have it!
1. Truth Isn't Created through Social Media
Like in my situation, if we look to social media to determine who people are or what they really think about us, we will be mislead. We cannot rely on social media to know truth. In order to know truth we must know God through Jesus Christ. We see this in John 14:6, when Jesus tells his disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
2. Our Worth Isn't Established on Social Media
Identity is lacking in our generation. Too many of us are looking at the lives of others and comparing who we are or where we are with what we see in someone else's feed. It's easy to do and common. And if we aren't careful, social media will find ourselves playing the one-up game. Never intentional but definitely possible. Why? Because if we place our worth on the approval of other people, then we will never find inward satisfaction.
"Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." -Galations 1:10
Basing our worth on fake feedback of the cyber world will only leave us perpetually stuck in a trap of performance. But God’s security, acceptance and value over us is not based on anything we do. It is abundantly available to us, free of charge and no maximum of likes can ever compete with that!
3. Social Media Isn't Meant to Provide Us Love
Heart emojis and little red hearted likes have dulled the true meaning of love. If we swipe to social media to feel loved, eventually we could find ourselves lacking more than just self esteem, but actual self respect and self love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 defines love in a way that contradicts a lot of what we see on our social media platforms. Love, according to scripture, isn't about getting what feels good or giving to others so that they will give back to us in a consenting exchange of butterfly feelings or ego boosts. Rather, the Bible's description of love is the opposite of many of the false statements made on social media regarding love. If we are going to truly know love we must look to the word of God and not our apps.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
4. Precious Time is Waisted on Social Media
Most of us enjoy social media because it connects us quickly around the world with people we otherwise wouldn't have the convenience of connecting with. That's why I love it! I can see my friend's travels in South Africa, I can view the pregnancy progress of my cousins in Ohio, I can see my old model mates in New York and in Europe and I can share my world with others, as well. All good things. But if we allow it to, social media can deceive us into taking for granted that the information on our phones is more important than the people we are spending time with.
For instance, when we go out to dinner, it's the saddest thing to see an entire family sitting together, but each person glued to their phones - connecting socially when they should be connecting with the people they are physically sitting beside. So, whether we are with our kids, our spouse, our friends or our various family members, we must value time as a special gift, not something we need to pass through.
Psalm 90:12 says it like this: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoy social media and there is not sin or crime in engaging in the fun and convenience that it offers, but everything in moderation! social media can be a great tool to connect, learn, create and promote yourself and your brand, as long as you use it the right way. If you feel like you might be too addicted to scrolling through your feed, consider these 3 tips that can help you have a more healthy relationship with social media.
Call Your Friends! Make really person-to-person connections. Challenge yourself to leave your phone on silent when you are out with loved ones. Instead of fulfilling your need for connection via the internet, turn to some real, non-virtual socializing.
Be Selective About Who You Follow . Not every opinion or statement is good for us to read let alone think on. Protect your thoughts by cautioning who you give yourself permission to follow. Not everyone posts to encourage your or edify the body of Christ. If what they are saying or pictures they are posting are contrary to the purity, truthfulness and love of God, they probably aren't leadership material, therefore no one we should be following.
Don't Feed The Troll! And by troll, I mean you! Yeah, that ugly side that all of us have, yet none of us want to admit. That ugly part that loves to hate, easily becomes jealous and secretly compares because if we aren't guarding our hearts, it's easy to fall into the pit of comparison which can lead to jealousy and an ungrateful heart.
So as I am writing to you, my phone is dead and I am better able to give you all my undivided attention. Maybe I'll let it lay blank for a while. It's Saturday afternoon and I have two little girls to cuddle with and a sweet husband to hold hands with. None of which anything on social media can compete with. I'm learning ladies ... I hope you are, too!
Love authentically, ladies! There is nothing artificial that can make up for genuine love and real connection!