Last Tuesday, the high school group at the church I work at discussed the question “How do we honor God on Social Media?” We concluded that although Social media is not inherently bad, sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook confront us with some unhealthy desires that pull us away from the gospel of Christ.
A few months ago, I experienced these unhealthy desires while posting a photo. Here’s what happened:
>>One of my friends took a picture of me that I thought was cool
>>I spent an embarrassing amount of time editing it on my phone
>>I posted it only to be let down by the number of likes it received.
>>My letdown was then compounded by the next posts in my feed of dumb selfies that received over 200 likes.
It’s not a stretch for to say that you have experienced this same thing. What a tragedy that we get trapped in living our online lives fueled by unhealthy desires! Social media tempts us to give into unhealthy desires, which turn us into addicts.
1. Social Media tempts us to create the most perfect version of ourselves.
I would like to know the average amount of time an Instagram user spends choosing the perfect filter, adjusting the exposure, cropping this, brightening that, and meticulously crafting the perfect words and hashtags to describe their pictures. It would be an embarrassing answer, but it’s telling of a greater, tragic truth: in situations we can control, humanity seeks to appear as perfect as possible. Social media provides the perfect avenue for us to show the world that we indeed are “perfect”. The Good News: For us, Jesus lived a perfect life that we are incapable of living. Philippians 2:6–11
2. Social media tempts us to have an unhealthy desire for others’ approval.
How easy is it get caught in the “get as many likes as possible” game? An underlying motivation in most people is the truth that we are seeking for others’ approval. We all want to be liked and on social media we are given a very tangible vehicle for testing how many people like us. There is a temptation to put ultimate value and worth in how many followers we have, how many likes we get, or how many times our tweet is favorited. As soon as we work for man’s approval, we are no longer servants of Christ. The Good News: Jesus shows us how much he approves of us by dying on the cross regardless of how “cool” we are. Romans 5:23
3. Social media tempts us to want what others have.
The public nature of social media gives us an instant accessibility into the lives of our friends. And as soon as we look at another person’s profile or page, the comparison game is destined to begin. Questions like, “How many followers to they have?”, or “What cool things have they been up to?” or even “How pretty is their girlfriend?” send us into a spiral of insecurity, bitterness, and destruction our self-esteem which fosters inside us an envy and jealousy that can have a real affect on the way we interact with our friends. The Good News: Jesus promises us that in him we have everything we need. 2 Peter 1:3
Four Suggestions to Honor God on Social Media
1. Post about others more often than you post about yourself
According to asapSCIENCE, 80% of all social media communication is self-involved. How would social media change if that number was only 25%? I’d like to find out.
2. Don’t say anything on social media you wouldn’t say to your mom
Would you be embarrassed if I took your last tweet and read it aloud to your mom? Some opinions, thoughts, rants, political views, and gossip topics are just not meant to be shared in a public online setting.
3. Posts encouraging, appropriate and productive things, without being overbearing
I can’t even begin to count the amount of posts I see about some ridiculous worldstar hip-hop backyard fight, or a stupid meme about “betches”. As funny or entertaining as they may be, why not post an encouraging article, an interesting and inspiring thought, or raise awareness of an issue or humanitarian crisis the world is facing?
4. Consider “fasting” from social media from time to time
One of the healthiest things a person can do is disconnect from social media for a period of time. There’s a clarity that comes with living in the moment, experiencing the world without feeling the need to document what you’re doing to share with your high school acquaintances online.
This topic is part of a series about how evangelism is more than a conversation; it’s a lifestyle. Social media is tricky because we face a constant temptation to allow that evangelism lifestyle to get lost in translation when we post. As we become aware of these temptations, I would contest that Christians could be seen in a completely different light than the rest of the world. Join me in resisting the temptation and doing social media differently!