Social media is amazing.
Facebook and Twitter have helped citizens overthrow multiple governments, helped determine the outcome of elections in the United States, and it’s helping you become stranger-friends with people all over the globe. It’s connecting people on this planet in ways we could have never imagined. The fact that I can see how every person that I’ve ever known is interconnected socially is crazy. Yes, I could do without the annoying ticker in the upper-right corner that tells me every time someone is listening to a new song in Spotify, but that’s not the point here.
The point is — life changed once I got a Facebook account.
For the better?
In some ways, but not in every way.
Like most good things in life, I only need it in moderation. I had to install boundaries to help keep me sane and accountable. Social media can be a great tool to connect and build up but if I’m not careful, I can find it making me miserable in several ways:
1. Comparison Kills My Contentment
Someone, somewhere is always doing something better than what I’m doing. That is a fact of life. If we continually compare our days with hundreds of our friends, over time we’re going to enter into a race we never signed up for. It’s a race that moves faster and faster with a destination to discontentment.
Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
2. Critic or Catalyst?
In an age of American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and the Biggest Loser, Americans love to be critics. We love to judge other people’s actions. Social media allows us to take criticism to the next level. We can sit back and watch people live their lives and critique away. We hit “Like” when we approve, or we yell at the screen and fire off a rude comment when we disapprove. Being a critic in the virtual world is easy. Being a catalyst in the real world is hard.
3. False Connectedness
If we can fake how we’re doing when we’re face-to-face with someone, then we can certainly fake the online version of ourselves. Our Facebook wall may look rosy, but we may really be going through a personal hell and not one person knows. Conversely, if we get a seemingly random prompting (also known as the Holy Spirit) to ask someone to lunch or coffee, we shouldn’t take this lightly. We are to be encouragers and living water to the people around us. We’re not connected with people just because we observe their lives from afar or communicate with them online occasionally. We should be the initiators in offline face-to-face meet ups with our friends.
4. Consumers or Creators?
We can consume priceless hours on Twitter and Instagram, and if that gets in the way of contributing good, focused energy to the work the Lord has called us to do, then it is a huge failure in the stewardship of our days. In Genesis, God instructed us to work — to take dominion over the land. We are made in the image of God, and God is a creator. Therefore, with our best and most focused energy each day, we should take the gifts God has given us and contribute back to society. If we’re spending large portions of our days checking to see if someone commented or “liked” something, we can become distracted and not finish a task with as much excellence or efficiency as we would otherwise. This directly comes down to the stewardship of our time and talents. For that, we’re accountable to our Creator.
I installed some social media boundaries in my life, and as a result, I felt less stressed. Boundaries are good. They give us perspective, focus, force creativity and allow us to be more appreciative of something.
Something like social media.