Micah and I have began to share some personal news with our friends and family over the last month. As we have shared, I have had so many people say things like “oh I can’t wait til you announce on social media!” and I quickly said, “Oh, we’re not going to do that.” I wish I had snapped a photo of their faces. What I’d said was such a foreign concept to so many friends and family members but for us, it just felt like a cultural expectation that we feel no desire to fulfill.
Now, hear me say, I write this with zero judgement for those who choose to share as much or as little with the world via social media. It’s totally your choice. But I do see a trend where our culture is becoming one that “does it for the gram” and I’m not buying what they’re selling. And I’m a firm believer that when we fall into that pit where everything that we post is for the approval of man, we’re missing the point.
I signed up for Facebook in Aug of 2005. I was a freshman in college and at that time, Facebook was only for college students and to even sign up for an account, it required an email address that ended in .edu. Facebook was fun! It was the way that we connected with our friends at other schools. It was a fun way to connect with others on our campus. But somewhere along the way, sin has creeped in and sold us the lie that we find our value in the amount of likes/comments/engagement that is found on social media.
A few years ago while working for Verizon in Cool Springs, Luke Bryan came into our store. For the record, he was the most down to earth guy I’d ever met in his cargo shorts, fishing shirt and hunting boots. He came in because he had dropped his phone getting out of his Bronco and stepped on it while out on the farm, fishing with his son. Told ya – super down to earth! That day I posted a photo with Luke. My sister in law, Kelly, is a huge fan and thought it would be fun to share. That photo, still today, has more likes/comments than anything else I’ve ever posted – more than our engagement announcement photo, more than family photos, more than anything. That night, my then boyfriend/now husband Micah said, “Wow! No one ever likes the pictures you post with me that much.” And right then, for a split second (because Micah could really give two snaps about social media engagement), Micah felt that thing that we have all felt while scrolling through the socials – he felt less than. And I think that’s the problem.
We get so caught up in posting our best versions of ourselves for the public that we are causing others to question their own worth. Recently I was discussing this with some girls that meet at my house for small group and one made a comment about how she only posts photos when she is in full makeup and is dressed cute. The others agreed. She continued, “Like, I’d never post a group photo of us sitting here in our sweats” and I asked, “But Why?” Your own thoughts can probably fill in the blanks of what came up in that conversation.
So I’ve started putting together some thoughts on how we can collectively take steps as individuals to combat this comparison culture that we have fallen prey over the years. I’d also like to say that we are not responsible for the way that people respond to what we post. We are each responsible for our own actions/responses and that’s that. But sometimes I think it’s worth questioning the motive behind our actions and see what sin we might be missing underneath the surface.
Here are some initial questions that we can ask ourselves before we engage social media:
- What is my reasoning for posting this on social media? If it’s for attention, for man’s approval, or for selfish/prideful reasons, I think it’s safe to hit pause and really pray about that.
- Is this post showing my true self or the best filtered version of myself? The only way that we can change the culture of only sharing our best made up versions of ourselves for the world is to individually decide that we’re going to be real with each other – in person and across social media platforms.
- Is this necessary to post? Could it cause someone pain? Am I doing this because culture says I should? Could it cause someone to stumble? Am I being petty? Simply taking a second to ask these questions not only allows us the opportunity to be honest with ourselves but it also allows the Holy Spirit to sanctify us in the process.
- Do I care more about sharing my opinion on this issue than how I am coming across to those on the other side of the aisle? Do I care more about being right or being kind? Is my witness for Jesus being tainted because I’m more focused on making sure my opinion is heard?
This is only the beginning. But it starts with us.
As I said before, this is not meant to shame or condemn anyone for anything they choose to post on social media.
But I do think that this is a worthy conversation. I do think it’s worth internally asking ourselves the motive behind what we post and if it’s coming from a healthy place. I think it matters. And I think for a long time, we’ve missed the point.