Where do I even begin with this one?
A while back I watched The Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary on the impact of social media on our human psyche. There’s been a lot of talk about what social media is doing to us over the years. But what I particularly liked about this film is that it featured the people who helped build some of the popular sites. It cemented some personal and professional choices I’ve made concerning social media over the last few years.
The statistics are damning. The generations who are growing up on social media are dealing with immense mental and emotional turmoil. The generations who’ve preceded them aren’t doing that much better either.
As believers, we have the additional consideration of our Christian values which should be the overarching guide on our social media presence. I don’t think there’s only one way to do social media right as a believer. But I do feel there are principles that can guide us to find what’s best for us in various seasons of life.
Know Your Treasure
How long can you go without checking any of the social media platforms you’re on?
How long can you go without engaging with God?
That right there tells you where your reliance is.
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we tend to worry more about the approval we’re getting online than we do the approval we’re getting from God. Our social media FOMO is more than our FOMO for Jesus. That’s a very dangerous place to be as a Christian.
Of course, your flesh wants the gratification of the social media high. There’s a whole science behind why that is and the dopamine addiction tied to it. But your spirit needs to soak in the presence of God more than your flesh needs that dopamine rush. Because it is God who sustains you, not your newsfeed.
Pause Before You Post
I’ve seen way, way, too many social media posts from Christians that should have been prayers instead. I understand why the world would use social media to ventilate their issues but we have the Holy Spirit. Why aren’t we going to Him first? What do we hope to find on social media that isn’t readily available in His presence?
We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking things out with God first. Then, if anything needs to be posted online, it can be done from a place of sobriety.
And I don’t mean those religious prayers we tend to make over things like food. If you have a thriving relationship with God, He’ll likely shut down any foolery you may be about to engage in before you even type a letter.
Season Your Speech
Do we want to be part of a trend or do we want to make eternal impact? The latter demands that we bridle our tongues and allow God to lead us on when to be silent, when to speak and how to speak.
One of the things I find astounding is this growing habit of Christians calling each other out on social media. Replicate those scenarios in real life and I highly doubt we’d walk up to a complete stranger in the middle of the street and rant about the issues we have with them the way we do online. If you don’t know someone well enough to have their number or access them in person, then maybe you’re not the best suited to issue correction to them.
I’ve heard it said: you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. To that I’ll add: you don’t need to add your commentary to every “hot topic” you see online. Some things are better said later, said differently, said in person or left unsaid entirely.
Bring Back The Love & Honour
Isn’t it amazing how clear the Bible can be?
It is possible to be firm and respectful online. It is possible to draw boundaries and be kind while at it. It is possible to exude Christ in the craze of social media.
And pro-tip: if you’re going to feed the trolls, let it be with love.
I’ve seen social media used for a lot of good. Even benefitted immensely from it. I think of it as a tool like a knife. Inherently knives are not good or evil. The intent of the one who wields it determines its use. The same applies to social media.
We can make it a force for God as Christians. But we have to give it its rightful place – servant, not master.