Tumblr. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Facebook. Vine.
There are so many different avenues to get your face, life, and thoughts out for the whole world to see. There is something really exciting about connecting with so many people, but I think there’s also a hidden drug in the midst of all this “self” content.
Has your day ever been made or broken by likes or comments? Does your self-worth swell and blossom with every new follower? In less than a decade, we have become a like-obsessed society, myself included.
After speaking at schools and conferences I end up with lots of new young followers through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m honored that anyone would have a desire to see pictures of the chalkboard in my house or the thoughts I share in 140 characters. But I’ve also noticed how few young people utilize the privacy settings available. Even though I live a fairly public existence on-line, I am very careful and cautious about the personal information I do share. The majority of my teen friends on Instagram typically have a thousand followers. When I asked them about their account, they could all tell me the precise number of followers and photo likes.
Has Instagram become a self-esteem meter? Are we, in essence, asking Instagram to tell us that we matter?
The world of “likes” can be a dark place for any age. When we seek the approval of our peers to the detriment of our contentment, that’s a dangerous place to be. So do we toss it all out the window in hopes of finding a cure? Maybe. I definitely admire people who take a step back from Social Media or who have never wandered into the format. But personally, I find value in being able to connect with my friends and family who are so far away. I love seeing pictures of weddings I miss attending. It’s one of my favorite ways to send my brother a laugh and let him know I’m thinking about him. But I also know that comparing myself to others is a real option when we are all checking out the “best-foot-forward” images of our idealistic lives.
So here’s my challenge to all of us. A few questions to consider before you post:
1. Why are you posting this picture? I try to ask myself this each and every time I hit “post.” I let this question lead me to really consider my motives. Is this true, noble, lovely, or excellent? (Sometimes it’s just funny, and that’s cool too.) Am I looking for an emotional shot in the arm through likes and comments? Am I seeking emotional empathy through a website?
A lot of times I will sit with a photo for 20 minutes and then decide not to hit post. In a world that tells me to post everything, sometimes I just have to put my foot down and say NO.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
2. Is this humor at the expense of someone else? There’s laughing WITH someone and then there is laughing AT someone. I post funny and ridiculous video clips on my brother’s timeline all the time. It’s our little shared love language. But I’m also careful not to let that humor spill over into being mean. Screaming goats = funny. Celebrities embarrassing themselves and then ripping apart their behavior = unkind.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
3. Am I posting out of anger? If we are to be known as a people of love we should really be slow to post. May our words (typed or spoken)bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following.
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29, MSG
4. Have I checked my security settings lately? I had to throw this out there. Be careful about geotagging your location. With whom are you sharing your daily routine and schedule? I don’t want to become someone overtaken by fear, but at the same time, I want to be smart and protect the privacy of my family. Who can see your pictures? Why do you need them to see your pictures?
“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise…” Ephesians 5:15
5. Am I looking for social media to boost my self-esteem? Even if you won every Instagram #amIpretty beauty pageant and received 400 likes on your next post, my guess is that the high would only last for so long. The likes of others can never fill us up. Genuine peace and contentment come when we love ourselves without the approval of others, but true self-worth is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of our Creator. How He sees and love me should matter most of all.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
There’s only one like worth seeking, and it’s not found in a hashtag.
“Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10