Spend time everyday scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps and see how you feel over an extended period of time. Does it uplift you? Does it encourage you? Does it edify you? What are you feeding yourself by spending your time on social media?
Have you taken time to ask yourself the question:
What is social media doing to my heart?
On my Instagram and Facebook accounts, I purposely try to follow people who post Bible verses and inspirational messages, as well as Christian preachers and ministers. I do this because this is what I want my heart filled with, this is what makes me better and lifts me up. If I’m upset or emotional, I will often find a video of someone like Heather Lindsey or another woman preacher that has a video about those topics and it encourages me. If I’m struggling with lack of faith, I will often see a post by Pastor Tony Evans or Steven Furtick, among many others, and their words help to strengthen my faith.
As a disclaimer, I’m not saying those things should substitute praying or reading the Bible for myself- but these things are added bonuses.
I had to delete a lot of friends who posted statuses of themselves constantly complaining, using curse words, gossiping and slandering others, posting immoral videos and memes, sexual pictures, all kinds of things that I consider negative. Why? Because I don’t want my heart filled with that stuff. I know that if I see that everyday, I’m consuming it and I don’t want to waste my time focusing on things like that. It affects me and brings me down.
“Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”
The Bible tells me to guard my heart, so that means I have to take care of it and protect it from anything that will come against the type of person that I want to be. It’s my heart’s desire to be pure and to follow God wholeheartedly, so exposing myself to drama or negativity on social media will in one way or another mess that up. The verse in Proverbs says everything we do flows from our hearts. Once something enters my heart, that becomes a part of me. My heart is who I truly am on the inside, and so I need to have my guard up.
You may think to yourself, “Well, I don’t follow drama or negativity on social media so I’m fine..”
Maybe you have an awesome friends list, but let’s reflect for a moment about all the stuff that social media is used for. Everyone posts their “highlight reel”- meaning- everyone posts the GOOD stuff in their lives: happy vacations, new babies, promotions, weddings, and any other amazing life event you can think of.
Let’s say a great couple you know of just bought a new house in a wonderful neighborhood. Your best friend just finished medical school. Your neighbor just went on a trip to an exotic location. One of your close friends went out to an awesome concert that looked like a great time, but you got no invitation. These are things we see all the time on social media. How is it making everyone feel?
An overwhelming amount of people I talk to (who are very honest) say it makes them feel jealous, it makes them feel like they aren’t doing enough with their lives, and they feel pressure to rush and make things happen, then post their every move. I won’t say that I don’t feel the same at times. If we can all be honest, I think we can admit we have felt that way at one point or another because of social media. Social media can cause us to feel not only jealous but perhaps even slightly depressed because of constantly looking at images of what seems to be a picture perfect life that everyone else has.
So, what do we do about it? What is the answer to this struggle? I believe there are many.
1.Don’t buy into the lies
NO ONE , and I mean NO ONE has a perfect life, so do not let anyone’s pictures fool you into thinking that. Every success story has some type of struggle attached to it. Your friend just finished medical school? Great news! Celebrate him. You probably have NO IDEA how many countless nights he stayed up late to study, how many days he couldn’t socialize with friends or family because he had to focus, and how much discipline and self-denial it took to make it that far. All you see is a smiling picture, but you DO NOT know what it took to get there.
Your friends, a married couple with a new baby, just got their family photos taken. The baby looks so sweet and angelic. What a beautiful family they are. Meanwhile maybe you are single and wondering when will it be your time to start a family…so your heart gets sad looking at them. However, you didn’t get to see all the pictures of the baby crying and screaming at the photo shoot, you don’t know the patience it took for them to get the perfect pose. You aren’t at their house when the baby gets sick and wakes up at 3 am crying. You didn’t see the fight that may have happened in the car on the way to get the pictures done. Sure the pictures of the family are perfect, but in reality the family itself is not perfect.
2. Learn to be happy with YOUR portion.
Be happy with YOUR life! Every success, every answered prayer, every new life event, comes with its own set of trials. You don’t know what everyone is going through behind the scenes because they aren’t showing you. So don’t dwell on what you see. Dwell on yourself and what God is doing in you. If you’re single and see only the married or engaged on your timeline, don’t let it get to you. Understand that God loves you as you are and you have amazing things that He is doing for you in this very moment. God doesn’t want you to waste your time coveting others, so spend your time focusing on Him and HIS will for you.
If you’re struggling with finances and it upsets you when you see people on expensive vacations, focus on getting out of debt. Focus on the promises of God for your life and how God says He is your provider. If you seek Him first, everything you need will come after that. Staring at people’s vacation photos is not going to help you. Make a decision to be content no matter how your finances are right now, and know that they will not always be that way.
3. Take a social media break
If you feel like social media is bringing you down, or you are spending too much time on it, do yourself a favor and just CUT IT OFF for a time, or forever if you don’t feel the need to get it back. Recognize that your emotions, your mental health, and your productivity in life are more important than social media.
While listening to a radio show recently on 91.9, I heard of an experiment done with a group of teens. The teens were not allowed to be on social media for a month or so and then reported on how they felt afterwards. When the experiment was over, all of the teens reported that they generally felt happier and more at peace with their lives.
This should come as no surprise. Teens, adults, no matter the age, social media affects us in both good and bad ways. It’s up to you to decide if it’s effecting you negatively. If it is, I encourage you to take action.
How do you know if you should take a social media break?
If you’re a believer in Christ and spend more time on social media than praying or in God’s Word, then I’d strongly encourage you to do a social media fast and get back to focusing on God. Scrolling through your timeline will not fill you, and it will not get you where God wants you to be. What will take you further is the disciplined time you spend with just HIM.
If you’re just bored, or even depressed, and go to social media as an addiction, I encourage you to find other hobbies that will actually edify you. Take your issues to God the Father. Seek out a life coach or counselor. Spend more time with family and friends in real life, and ignore the urge to constantly post about it. Spend more time with your kids and get off your phone. Your kids need your attention more than you need likes.
Likes are a form of fake validation. You can get addicted to likes, which is a symptom of constantly desiring approval from man. Man cannot validate you. Only God can truly validate you, and you are already worth so much because you are His son/daughter made in His image. Why seek man’s approval when what really matters is who God says that you are?
Social media is not the answer to anything. Although we can use it for good purposes, it can easily become an addiction and it needs to be dealt with properly. I encourage you to use it in a healthy way, or limit yourself to it.
I leave you with some verses to reflect on…
2 Corinthians 10:12-
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Lamentations 3:4 – I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Philippians 4:8 – 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.
Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Proverbs 27:8 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.