How many likes did I get?
How many notifications are popping up?
Who commented on my post?
How many followers do I have?
Let’s face it.
We like Facebook (and Instagram and Pinterest and Twitter and…).
Sure, we like connecting with long, lost people, but really, for most of us, we like what we can get out of it too. The longing for community and the deep desire to be known and accepted comes out in our addiction to social media whether we’re thinking about it or not.
I’ve read enough of other blogs on the vices of social media to know that addiction to these sites is widespread (as in, it’s not just me who feels constantly drawn to “check-in” 🙂 ). As a result, social media often gets a bad rap (especially among Christians) and people feel guilty for wanting to connect in that way.
I’ve been there too (feeling guilty that is).
While I agree with some of what’s being said, I think that pointing out the “addiction” and creating “guilt” is only treating the symptom and gives no prescription for the real source of our “need”.
We need community.
We need to be known.
We need to be accepted.
These longings aren’t wrong!
In fact, they are a crucial part of our internal design by our loving Creator God.
He gave us these desires so that we would actually connect and build rich community with each other.
The downfall is that we settle for less.
We settle for some likes on Instagram.
We settle for some followers on Twitter.
We settle for some comments on Facebook.
The Tragedy: We hinge our happiness and entire mood on them. It’s like a sugar high followed by the “drop-off”.
We want to be known to the core, and loved despite it all, but, in complete contradiction to this desire, we have a problem being authentic and we hesitate to engage others where they are at in their own journey,
which would draw us both into more meaningful community.
For some of us, we will post on Facebook about a really trying day, but when our neighbor asks how we are doing, we reply with a paltry, “We’re doing good.”
When push comes to shove, our ability to be “authentic” is only “skin deep”, if even that.
I’ve been guilty of posting how my day is going on Facebook before even telling my husband (or just hoping he would read it instead of having an actual conversation with him). I admit that sometimes, it seems more pressing to post a cute photo of the kids on Instagram instead of sending it to their Daddy at work, or their grandparents, or other people who genuinely are involved and care about their lives.
This Is Tragic!
And I know I’m not alone in this manner of thinking and acting.
It may seem innocent and not that big of a deal, but we need to realize that is has a slow, devastating effect on our need for community.
When we become accustomed to trading genuine for less than mediocre, we’ve been tricked into thinking that our social media community is as good as it gets, when, in reality, God designed us for So Much More.
It’s like perpetually eating McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when we could be eating around our family dinner tables enjoying grilled goodness and summer produce. There’s no comparison, but we cheat ourselves when we choose the lesser.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that social media is inherently bad for us or that we should all delete our apps and our accounts. I think they can be used to foster genuine community, but they simply cannot replace it. If the only place we are sharing our hearts is on social sites (or if we aren’t sharing them at all), perhaps we should step back and re-evaluate our engagement with community and what exactly we might be missing out on.
I know it to be 100% true that how deep we are willing to be genuine about our lives when we are face to face with people is directly related to the richness and joyous depth of benefits we receive from community.
The more authentic we are, the fuller our lives are.
God created our marriages for rich depth.
God created our churches for rich depth.
God created our friendships for rich depth.
When we settle for social media as our only outlet for authenticity, we are being robbed in a desperately tragic way.
Test my theory and intentionally choose to get involved in genuine ways with other Christians. Maybe you aren’t surrounded by Christian friends that you can trust right now. You can’t allow that to be your excuse to be stripped of something precious God has given you access to.
Perhaps your journey to authentic begins with reaching out and engaging someone else. Maybe it means being courageous and volunteering at church to hold babies in the nursery, shake hands at the door, or teach a kids’ Sunday school class (trust me, it’s not as terrifying as you might imagine!). Whatever your next step is to intentionally grow towards rich community, you will be blessed abundantly more than that momentary “high” you get when you receive another “like” on social media.
Are You Ready For MORE?!