Four Ways Social Media Makes Us Really Bad Christians – Part II

social media makes us bad Christians

Part II of Four Ways Social Media Makes Us Really Bad Christians. Click here to read Part I. 


3. Social media is an idol.

When I’m stressed, I find my first reaction is to get on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I want to scroll and forget, to distract myself from whatever is worrying me. I try to find relief in my feeds and lose myself in the lives of other people so for a moment I can take my mind off of my own problems. More often than not, I turn to social media for relief rather than turning to God. Social media is so instant, so accessible, that it’s easier to turn to rather than talk to a God who’s online profile doesn’t exist. Sometimes it’s hard for me to even put down my phone long enough to read my Bible for a half hour. I am hardwired for instant gratification and the instant, easily-heard audience social media offers me.

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, would probably call this action “numbing.” Numbing is the tactics we use to not feel our feelings, meaning we think that if we fill our time with other things (alcohol, shopping, social media, etc.) the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.

But the truth is a relationship with God demands that we feel our feelings; even the really bad ones. It is only through facing how we are really feeling, whether it be joyful or anxious or depressed, that we can truly be ourselves before God and invite Him to into every single detail of our lives. But if I refuse to turn to Him because I am distracted or numbing myself with social media, whatever it is I’m trying to solve for the moment is never truly healed.


4. Social media gives me value.

Last year as I became more immersed in social media on a daily basis, I really struggled with separating my real worth from my “online worth.” The more likes I got, the more important I felt. Sometimes if I didn’t get many likes on a post I would think about it for hours afterward, feeling anxious that others would think. I also turn to social media for love and validation. I post pictures hoping people will like them and I will get that rush that says, “You are worthy. You are important. You stand out.” I crave likes, retweets, favorites. How often do I turn to God anymore for these things? Not as often as I turn to social media.

In fact, this has become especially true since I began writing this blog.

Once I began writing more I wanted the opportunity to publicize my blog to more people. And how do we publicize anything these days? Social media.

For me, writing characterizes so much of my identity. I am, by nature, a writer. So when I publicize my blog, I’m essentially publicizing something intrinsic to who I am, something very special and important and a reflection of my life. So if I publish a piece on Facebook or Twitter and don’t receive any likes or new readers, it’s as though who I am and what I have to offer does not hold value. The analytics of my blog’s Facebook page explicitly tell me when no one is paying attention. When this happens, it’s incredibly difficult not to wrap up my value as a person in a lack of likes. The same is true for when my blog receives a great deal of traffic.

If social media is a tool to determine what people consider interesting and worthy, how do we in turn not allow it to determine our own worth? If I continue to turn to social media to tell me how I am viewed and valued, the value God places on me every day is lost in the chaos of likes and follows.

Jim Carrey has this great quote:

“I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of so they will know that’s not the answer.”

I can long for my popularity on social media to rise so I will feel accomplished, important, and valued. But the truth is even if I did reach that point I would probably still crave more, never to be fully satisfied. God alone can quench this thirst.

 

What steps have you taken to combat these pitfalls of social media? 

10 replies »

  1. Julia, you are spot on in your analysis of social media. Your last point, that we turn to it for validation, as a way to fill our neediness and emptiness, is especially true. We do use it as a tool. But I think social media is only an extension of what humans have always done, which is, of course, look to other humans for validation. We are created to need each other in many ways. The hard work comes – and you have realized this already – when we take the next step. Toward the God who created us to need each other but to need Him more. I’ve probably said this to you before, but I believe that we are all created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts. We try plenty of other things, but it can only be filled with Him. Only He can complete us; only He is the answer to every yearning of our souls. Thanks, as always, for your thoughts!

    • Thank you for YOUR thoughts, Julie! A God-shaped hole is so accurate, and most days I’m trying to fill it with things that are easier and offer more instant gratification (social media included!).

  2. I deleted my Facebook account months ago. Among the things I started noticing in myself is that I’ve been using it to look at other people’s posts and compare my worth to them. So instead of gratitude I question God why my life’s not “better” yet.

    I don’t miss much after deleting it since my friends generally told me what’s going on via text/email. And there’s definitely more gratitude in my prayers, but I also noticed how my prayers have had more humility in them. And that helps me recognize my sinfulness and don’t deserve anything from God but death, but He sent His Son for me anyway; I’ve got all I need from Him, how much “better” can my life really get?

    I still struggle to put down my phone/computer sometimes to read my Bible, even with just my Twitter account. But I think having less distractions in general is a good thing especially if I’m looking to spend more time with God. Thanks for your thoughts Julia!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Rob! I think your experience with this is really a testament to the truth of social media but also the truth of setting it aside and eliminating its distraction.

  3. Well said!! Your points are so valid. Thank you for your thoughts! I personally have decided, after fasting Facebook and Instagram for two weeks in early January; to forego both all together. I no longer feel the burden, inadequacy, discouragement or stress; that I was experiencing because my overuse/ dependence of these two forms of social media; primarily Facebook. Now, this could indeed be because I have instead filled my time more wisely with God. Intentional time now spent in scripture, devotions, gardening and writing. My focus is on God. My time invested in God; my rock and salvation. As a result, I feel joyful, positive, light and more connected to people than ever before.

  4. Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with God, wheatear is good or bad I noticed that I have been neglecting Hod in all ways.
    I respond to social media quickly and when it comes about motivation I tent to scroll down on the screen of my ipad or Mobil just to forget about God’s right path to live.
    I noticed that indid the phones, the iPads, and so on, have help us a lot, nonetheless these items have also separated us from God. The evil has been very very clever when it comes about distracting us from Jesus.
    I just want to say I guess that, it must be a must to try to control ourselfs as the bible says, and think for a moment if our salvation is been joupardized by spending too much time not only in social media but in things in life that are not important. The apostol Paul says that we should learn how to live with contemp heart.

  5. Thanks for the great aritcle. Made myself to think for awhile.
    I was thinking about deleting the Facebook app (and deleted several times in the past). But after a while i delete the app, i see myself finding my value in something else. Social media was not created as idol, but I elevated the value of social media higher than God.
    So i think it is important for us to do everything for God.
    I have stopped talking to God for a while and your articles reminded me of his love.
    Thank you so much and will look forward to read more of your articles!!

    • Thanks for the message! I hope that you find it easier to talk to God soon, even if it’s just a thank-you for something that happened during the day (sometimes that’s all I can muster).

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