Social media is an amazing opportunity to connect with other people. Sadly it is also a new tool used by the devil to ensnare unsuspecting believers into temptation, jealousy, and discord. Early in the morning as I sit on the commuter train going to work I notice the vast majority of people browsing social media on their phones. No one is talking, no one is looking around. Ear phones plugged in with eyes fixated on mostly phones. For the first time in human history we are able to spread ideas and connect with others around the globe with lightning speed. The instantaneous nature of social media platforms gives us the dual power of bringing both blessing and curses on people. Consequently we must learn to walk in wisdom on a daily basis. No other generation in human history has been given the ability to reach so many people for both good and bad purposes.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11 the Apostle Paul warns us not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes and devices. In other words the enemy has certain strategies he uses in order to divide and conquer believers. If the Apostles walked among us today, they would warn the church of the following spiritual dangers faced posed by social media
Humans have always struggled with comparison and jealousy. However platforms such as facebook, and instagram have taken comparison to an entire new level of jealousy. Recent studies have confirmed that over use of social media leads to unhealthy comparison with others.God created us with the desire for deep meaningful relationships. The use of social media is not inherently bad; however when we lack authentic healthy relationship in our own life we tend to create an idealized version of what life looks like for others. The enemy will fool us to believe that our lives are less romantic, boring, and uninteresting compared to our peers. He will constantly remind us of how unaccomplished, and less appreciated we are if we allow him. If we begin to find ourselves feeling this way, it is time to take a step back and realize that instagram and facebook is not real life. Our online profiles create a false image of a perfect life free of trials and tribulations.When we find ourselves overly engaged with the online world, perhaps it is time to take a break and do something healthy outside preferably with people.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” When God is our primary standard we can begin to let go of the false expectations that we place on ourselves. Comparing ourselves with others is not wise, and will ultimately lead down a road of unhappiness, regret, and disillusionment with others.
In past generations people took photos of their children, loved ones, and other events and tucked them away in photo albums and scrapbooks. As a young child I remember looking at old photo albums with my parents. Sparingly we would bring out these photos to share our most treasured memories with family and friends. In the digital media age the importance of photographs have taken on a whole new meaning. People now go on vacations, and do certain types of events simply to get a viral photograph posted on social media. Our personal lives are no longer part of a personal photo album. We are a generation that has lived our lives publicly through our online persona. I can’t count how many times I have felt inferior to someone else simply because I did not achieve the desired likes on my pictures. If one is not careful they can begin to believe the lies of the enemy that somehow people are not liking their pictures because they don’t like you as a person. This leads to a constant feeling of inferiority and low self worth. On the other extreme comes the temptations of narcissism and selfish behavior.
We must remember that we do not know the true thoughts and intentions of others. In order to keep our heart pure we must always assume the best, and take anything posted online with a grain of salt. Furthermore we can guard against feelings of inferiority by checking our own motivations in posting certain types of photos and comments on social media.
Social media is a great place to discuss ideas, and at times even challenge systems that oppress others. The online community has given a voice to millions of people worldwide who would otherwise been kept silent in past generations. However it is also a place where unintentionally and sometimes intentionally division between people is encouraged and celebrated. The Apostle James warns us that the tongue is a fire that pollutes the whole person. In our day and age, not only is the tongue a fire, but the things we type on twitter, facebook, and instagram can have the same impact not only on others but on our own soul.
We only need to browse the comment section on most news articles to see the division that is being fostered between various factions, and political groups in our society. Unfortunately even well meaning Christians who wish to defend our worldview and faith get caught in silly controversies that has no positive value on our spiritual health, nor the health of the reader. Sometimes the best way to approach a controversial topic is not through the online community, but in a personal settings. We must come to recognize that oftentimes inflammatory articles, and even news events can be used as bait by Satan to discredit our witness among non those outside the church. Always ask yourself whether you really need to post that article, or comment on that controversial thread. This is why the Apostle Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8 to be self controlled, lest we be devoured by our adversary. Getting our point of view, even if it is correct is not worth the damage done to our ability to be a witness in the life of someone who needs to know the love of Christ.
We don’t have to do this alone.
Multiple studies have shown that people are increasingly feeling isolated and alone. The people of God must continue to buck this trend by regularly gathering together, and building authentic community with other people. Through the Body of Christ we are able to build one another up in encouragement, and serve one another as God intended. Although social media has its place, God ultimately created us for real relationships with other people.
Finally the scripture tells us in Ephesians 6:11 “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”. As we navigate the minefield of social media we can be sure that God will give us the ability to overcome the tricks of the enemy. More importantly he will give us victory in a world that seeks to cause division, jealousy, and discord. When can be confident that he is our priceless treasure worth far more than any amount of likes or validation from the world.