I have a love hate relationship with social media.
For the last few days, I have been thinking about social media. The benefits of social media are many and varied, such as connecting with friends and family around, keeping up to date with the latest news and innovations and events, and meeting new people. But social media also has its downside, such as becoming all-consuming, breeding insecurity and shame, and making bullying of people on the other side of the world easier. It is a machine that can influence our hearts and minds more than we realise if we are not careful, while also allowing us the opportunity to influence the world in a positive way. It is a platform that is a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it.
One of the thoughts I have been pondering about social media is the way it lets us be who we want to be. Again, a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it. In an age where everyone is crying out for authenticity, it’s easy to project whatever persona you want, regardless of whether it’s a true reflection of who you are and what you truly believe. We can share a statement or opinion with a few clicks and suddenly, we are advocating for, or fighting against a view or belief. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing if we are passionate about what we are saying and sharing, but do we really believe all that we post and share and like? Are we truly passionate about what we are sharing, or are we sharing it because everyone else is sharing? Are we sharing because we want to share our hearts and beliefs with the world, or are we trying to impress a person or group of people so that they think we are something we’re not? Are we trying to advance our career by pretending to care about something that deep down, we really don’t care about? Are we compromising our beliefs because we don’t want to offend people, instead of standing firm with our convictions, both publicly and privately?
Who are we trying to impress?
And why the heck are we trying to impress anyone in the first place?
Like I said earlier, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love it for how it allows us to connect, but I hate it for the negativity and online poison it breeds. I try to be as intentional as I can on social media and not post anything that I don’t agree with or like. I try to bring some positivity online by doing a daily gratitude post where I post things I’m grateful for, both serious and silly. Why do I do this? I do it because I can. I do this because while I can’t control what happens on your social media platform, I can control what happens on mine and as clichéd as this may sound, I want to help people and make the online world a somewhat better place.
I want to share my faith in a way that is real and honest. I want to be authentic with what I post and not make it about me but about God and others; I want to use my voice to speak life and love to others. I may not have a platform with thousands of followers, but I still have a platform, which means I can still try to be a positive influence for the people who are on my page and are connected to me. As sweet as it would be if everyone loved my social media page and thought I was awesome (my mamma bear thinks I’m awesome, so I must be!) I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I am perfectly fine with that. I am a certain flavour of coffee that not everyone enjoys and not everyone needs to, because I don’t post for affirmation; I post for purpose and encouragement and to build community. I’m not on here to build my career or get approval from people, I’m here to share what I believe is important and what I believe God wants me to share.
So, here’s my question to us: what are we using our social media for? When you post things on social media, is it to help others or yourself? Is what we post and share going to make people want to ask us about Jesus? Or does what we post deter people from wanting anything to do with Jesus? Is our social media page more about advancing the Kingdom, or our own agenda and career? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we can’t have fun on social media, because we can and should, often. What I’m saying is that we need to think about what we are posting and how that will impact and influence others; we need to think about what we can post to encourage and influence those around us in such a way that they want to ask us the faith questions. How can we build community online that invites people in? How can we build others up so much that they start to bring their friends along because they know that when they come to our platforms, they will find love and encouragement and belonging?
I’m still working out how to make social media work for the better and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you use social media. What does your page look like and how can we build community together?