The Thing About Social Media

I’ve been mulling this one over for a while (the post, about a month; the topic, years). I love social media, and it’s obvious from my sidebar that I use it fairly often. But the thing about it is that it’s so. fragile. I don’t mean that you can break it. No, I mean that the way you use it can help or hurt, lift up or tear down, and you have to be careful. Not only does the poster have to be careful, but the reader does, too! While it can be such a blessing if handled correctly, the internet is a place where we have to guard our hearts and minds against all things damaging, and I’m afraid social media is rapidly becoming a cause. There are right and wrong ways to use it because it’s a reflection of who you are and how you treat others, and it’s a reflection of how you spend your time.

It can be bad.

My three biggest complaints against social media are these:

Social media can be damaging to self-esteem.

Whether you’re the poster or the reader, if you spend too much time scrolling, you can start to feel uncomfortable with who you are. With endless feeds of perfectly filtered selfies, perfectly posed family pictures, and posts about those perfect moments in everyone’s lives or friends congratulating friends on their accomplishments (plus, so much more). These are all great things! But what I’ve found is that after spending about 30 minutes, regrettably sometimes an hour (way to much time for one sitting, in my opinion) scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that I can get bitter and jealous, and that’s not healthy for anyone. On the side of the person posting, it can be hard not to want to constantly put yourself out there in order to boost your self-esteem in a very superficial way. It’s can be an endless battle of self-esteem. Post a picture, get more likes. Write a post, get some comments. See someone else’s post get more comments, strive to do better than they have. Not to mention the rise of cyber bullies. It’s simply not healthy for some people.

Social media can be a waste of time.

I don’t think I would ever be able to count the hours I’ve spent scrolling and scrolling until I realize – hey, it’s been an hour and I’ve gotten nothing done! It’s a huge temptation to veg on the couch, skip out on homework or chores or unfortunately sometimes human interaction, and just stay up to date on social media. (By the way if you’re skipping out on human interaction, and see your friends hanging out on social media, it can automatically revert back to that self-esteem problem). I’m guilty on all counts. What’s worse is that it can take you away from spending time from God and spending time with the most important people in your life. It’s often an excuse to skip Bible time and ignore other humans sitting right next to you, and that’s just plain sad. Don’t miss the blessings around you because your hand is glued to your phone and your face to the screen.

Social media can be a platform for complainers.

One thing I can’t stand to see is a feed full of complaints that do no one any good. It’s sad to see people complaining instead of taking action. Complaining instead of making lives better. Complaining instead of confronting. Complaining instead of encouraging. If you’re going to use social media, please understand that there are many people who actually do read your posts. While (and I understand this) it feels like no one is actually going to see what you post because you may be alone in a room just pressing “Post,” you’re probably friends with hundreds on Facebook and followed by at least fifty more on Twitter and Instagram. They’ll see, and take that as a reflection of who you are as a person; whether you know it or not, someone will be discouraged by this – it’s not loving. It’s not worth it to take to the Internet to share our every feeling becaus all of your business is not all of my business. Take to prayer instead.

But it can be good!

Social media can help you keep in touch.

I’ve been able to keep in touch with family and friends who I probably wouldn’t have even recognized by now if it hadn’t been for social media and its widespread influence. I love that. I get to see pictures of my distant cousins, aunts, and uncles’ families and updates on surgeries/sicknesses/deaths so I know to pray for particular people (and there are those specific prayer requests every once in a while). I get to see those brand-new babies and their parents, those new pets for Christmas, and people’s true joy. I get invited to Bible studies, to sing hymns with brethren, to gospel meetings, to birthday parties. You can find your friends who are literal countries away simply by typing their names and clicking “Add friend” or “Follow.” And that is truly a blessing – it’s what social media really is meant for. It’s meant to be life-sharing and heart-touching, not negative and discouraging.

Social media is a tool to spread the gospel.

It’s amazing how many thousands of shares you can receive on Facebook and Twitter (sometimes Instagram)! Imagine if everyone used social media as a way to help, encourage, and share the gospel. You could open someone’s eyes to the truth with just one post or one photo because the gospel is more powerful than the Internet. It can reach people you wouldn’t even imagine (in fact, I’m noticing that right here on my blog). There are a lot of ways to do this: Facebook event invites, article shares, encouraging posts, retweets on Twitter, Bible verse tweets, Bible verse pictures, an encouraging comment or “like”…I could go on for a while, but you get the gist. Social media is a tool. It can be used for God’s glory if you put your mind to it and use self-control (and take a few breaks).

Despite the cons, I stick with it.

Yes, that’s a detailed list of cons, but I don’t want to make social media sound evil and terrible in and of itself. It isn’t when used the right way. The right way is to understand that it’s not just a place to vent or get your entertainment, it is a tool. Sure, I have to deal with those cons, and I have thoughts of deleting all of my social media several times a week. But then I think about that family and those friends and those souls who need encouragement or the gospel, and I realize I can help. I’m just one person, but sometimes one person can make a difference in just one other person’s life, and that’s more than nothing. One person encouraged can lead to another and one person saved will lead to more – it’s a chain reaction. It takes self-control and patience, but I’m glad it’s teaching me to have those virtues.

I know we all have problems and worries and fears. But I don’t think social media is the place for them; prayer is. Prayer is the place for these concerns. It will clear your head far more than a subtweet, back-at-you selfie, or negative post. It will lead to real results rather than in-the-moment satisfaction.

No, social media isn’t evil. But those temptations are. Make people smile today – encourage them, humor them, enlighten them. But most of all love them.

 

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