Social Media. A motivator? A vessel for more knowledge, insight, and idea curating? Or perhaps, it’s a spirit-breaker? Maybe, a deterrent? A distractor? How about, a source for the lost of one’s true self?
For many of us, there is simply no way around social media. It’s where the world connects, almost seamlessly. It’s where so many innovators have shared their ideas. It’s where entrepreneurs promote themselves, and their brand and business. It’s where creators can get inspired with a simple hashtag search. It’s not uncommon for friendships and relationships to develop, thanks to a couple likes, smiley faces, DM messages—then boom, there’s a connection. It establishes easy assess to reconnect with old friends, share (wanted or unwanted) opinions and thoughts on all things—from politics and social issues to all things beauty and fashion-related. Even jobs will ask for social media links just to further investigate your character, to get a sense of your creativity, and so much more. It’s safe to say that social media has wormed its way into nearly every area of our lives.
For some of us, we can’t seem to escape it, even if we wanted to. In fact, you most likely wouldn’t be reading this if social media didn’t bring you here. Becoming a blogger has been one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve taken on; yet, it has also led to a lot of irritation. On a personal level, I don’t care for social media. I understand the benefits, and I respect the sense of community and connection it creates.
However, social media is commonly (more often than not) over-consumed. It distracts people from “real life.” Constantly, we interrupt moments of silence, down time, family time, date time, friend time, work-break time and so on, with a scroll through social media. We are absentmindedly being poured into (influenced) by others (strangers, celebs who may or may not have lost their minds, friends [or so you think], acquaintances, enemies, corrupt authoritative leaders, and so on). We lose out on authentic quality time and memorable experiences because we’re so focused on what’s “happening” in everyone else’s life.
Unfortunately, like most things that has started out good, or at least with good intent, people have found a way to plant and cultivate toxicity within social media. Many of us immediately associate social media with words like: Messy, petty, identifying it as a common source for falsehoods (fake news), a safe place for bullies, and an even a better place for good people to be condemned for good deeds and strong character. We can’t forget how much negativity social media perpetuates. What begins as inspiring and motivating leaves many feeling inferior. What begins as sharing accolades quickly ignites a fire within to brag and lose humility in blessings. What is meant to build up, instead tears down.
Although many of us are quick to say that social media is just social media and insists that it doesn’t bleed into our “real life,” the truth is, with the amount of time and energy so many of us put into social media, it has become a part of our real lives. It is where a lot of real relationships and friendships begin, grow, and in some cases where it come to an end. It is where business deals begin and knowledge (and misinformation) is digested. It is where people learn how to perfect their appearance, improve their home, and where people consciously and subconsciously decide who they will or won’t be for themselves, their children, spouse, friends, family, etc. It often drives us to stop and think, “That’s crazy, never me,” “I was raised different,” or even, “One day, that’ll be me,” and so on. And, how can we forget the amount of time—I’m talking hours—that many of us lose on social networks. It’s almost an oxymoron. A social medium causing us to be less social with real people, in real time—just a bunch of scrolling, with no real engagement.
Maybe you’re thinking, “yeah, okay, but what’s your point?” or “okay, now what? That’s society for ya.” Well, my response: the point is, protect yourself. Maybe social media is how you make your money—okay, protect yourself. Maybe it’s how you stay connected to people you don’t get to see often in person—okay, protect yourself. Maybe the genuine laughs from meme sharing keep you coming back to Instagram—okay, protect yourself.
People yell about it all the time—fitness gurus, beauty experts and fashionistas, and so forth— “consume what we’re offering to you—the ideas we’re selling you, the products we’re selling, the service we’re offering, the belief system we stand by, while simultaneously telling you to watch out for what everyone else is selling you.” How does that benefit you when you lack the wisdom to discern what’s killing you and what’s keeping you alive (improving your quality of life or feeding your Spirit with good and true things)?
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people to lose themselves and become a slave to the expectations of others. People will waver on their beliefs and values. If the masses express dislike for what an individual shares, said individual will swear that it is a misrepresentation of who they are, that what they shared was unintentional, when it was indeed, intentional. They said it, did it, thought it was a good idea to post it, and now, he or she simply regret the backlash. The unbothered folks are always talking, and the bothered folks consistently front, but are miserable day in and day out. Honestly, it’s a never-ending cycle of spiritual suicide.
What was once created to be a tool, is now a source (often for false or misleading information) and it’s accessible to anyone to spread anything, and society instantly receives it as fact. Well, as my [favorite] pastor Dr. Tony Evans once said, “it can be a fact and still not be truth.” Really think about that. It’s like someone saying, “I was involved in an accident,” which may be a fact—but the truth of situation lies in the other fact that they may or may not had conveniently and intentionally left out—“I was at fault in a car accident” or, “I caused an accident.”
You see, it’s all too easy to be manipulated via social media, whether it’s intentional or not. As annoying as it may be sometimes, it is on us to discern what we read, hear, and see via social media—although it can be tiring after a while—it is the receiver’s burden to carry.
I say all of that to say this: Choose wisely. Choose who you follow and engage with, carefully. Consider how much time you spend allowing randoms and their facts and opinions to pour into you. Ask yourself, have I allowed what was intended to motivate, to stir up envy, jealousy, or self-hate in me? Is what I’m consuming at the speed and in the capacity in which I’m consuming it, uplifting me or is it now influencing me to create a negative, untrue perception of myself? Stop and ask yourself, despite the cordial-friendly relationship I have with this individual, are they speaking in a way that disrupts my growth and development in Christ?
Truth of the matter is, often times we hold ourselves to higher standards in “real life” than we do on social media. We like a post because our friend posted it, but we disagree with the message it sends. We say we’re not here for gossip, fake people, liars, etc. yet we’ve befriended them on social media. We preach positivity, but laugh at the nonsense, bullying, hatred, and negativity spread through gossip networks.
Let’s get real, we’ve got to stop allowing what others share and don’t share via social media determine how we move in this world. All it is, is sharing—we’re all feeding one another bits and pieces—that’s it—bits and pieces. I guarantee you, the real tea, the real story, is what is not being shared.
We see someone (or should I say, we see what they choose to post) and assume we must not be working hard enough. Someone else posts something and all of a sudden, we need a vacation when we just asked God to remove that idle and lazy spirit that we have allowed to temporarily defeat us. Every diet is not worth trying. Every side job ain’t for you, sis. That woman your friend got wouldn’t even satisfy you sir, so why are you covenanting your neighbor’s wife?
Listen. This is not about bashing social media. Social media is what it is—it’s a [tool]. It allows me to share with and learn from people that I wouldn’t get to with in person. It creates a platform for me to share my creativity, my intellect, a small piece of my life, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit with others. But it would be foolish to ignore all of the gloom and doom that so many of us are privy to via social media.
Check it. You can filter it. You can put it down and pick it up as you please. You can spread positivity and engage with what is good. The responsibility of what reaches you, what pours into you is yours. Take it seriously—take yourself seriously, because everyone is not concerned about what they post and how it affects you or anyone else. Some people only mean ill-intent. Some people are simply ignorant and incapable of sharing responsibly. Others intend to lie about their life—to intentionally misled and confuse you.
Satan intends to conflict you. He intends to rob you of your joy. He intends to take what was meant for good and make it evil. So protect yourself. Don’t get caught up in the new age flex via social media. Pay attention to what you give attention to. Go slow enough to consciously acknowledge what seeps into your subconscious. No one and nothing is worth your self-care. You are worth your own protection and care.