Let's Talk About Social Media

Dear Christian Sister,

I started spring cleaning last week. Yes. I know it’s only January. But Christmas is over and I live in Southern California. It may as well be spring already!

My list included purging my closet of clothing and emptying storage boxes, some of which held things I’ve been moving with me since college! It was time. I also cleaned out and organized my pantry. I planned my meals for the week to use up canned and dried items with a 2020 expiration date.

The list also included a social media clean-up. I went through all of the accounts I follow on Instagram and Facebook. I unfollowed some people who I haven’t seen or spoken to in years. I unfollowed some “influencers,” authors, and other cultural accounts, keeping in mind Phillipians 4:8.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Growing up, my mom had this verse written on an index card and set it at the bottom of our computer screen (picture here a big, heavy desktop. Back in the dial-up days). It served as a reminder to be careful what we looked at, what we said, and what we did while using the computer. That idea has continued to come to mind years later as an adult when I use my own laptop or smart phone.

This verse is such a needed reminder, especially in this age of digital communications. There is so much information, literally at our fingertips, which can be a great thing. We get world news and can communicate with friends and family on the other side of the planet, almost instantly. We are all more connected to one another than ever before. When you stop to think about it, it’s actually amazing! God has created us to be creative. He allows us to learn and grow! It is a blessing to have knowledge and make new discoveries.

But this wealth of information & technology also comes with bad things, things that do not bring glory to God. God in His grace and love has allowed us to learn and obtain knowledge, but He also grants humans the free will to use it in the way we choose. So much of the content out there is not edifying or encouraging to the Christian. Much is rooted in sin and sinful desires. It is easy to stumble upon or seek out things that we should not see and fill our minds with ideas that are inconsistent with the Christian faith. It is easy to get into arguments with others. We’ve all seen how people speak to one another online. It can get pretty nasty. Even with amazing new discoveries and technology, the sinful heart of man is revealed.

We compare our lives to others. We start to think that we need to look a certain way or buy certain products. We seek fulfillment from and give praise to the created, rather than the Creator. Often, we can see friends (or even strangers) posts and have negative feelings or thoughts about someone who you actually love & respect; your sister or brother in Christ. We start arguments and say things we would never say in-person. It is very easy to judge people by what they post or hold ourselves to a cultural, social media standard, rather than the biblical standard.

We get sucked in and we start to believe the lies the culture propitiates. We become more obsessed with ourselves. We treat others with resentment and condescension, rather than love.

Now, I am not saying that we should only follow, watch, listen to, and support exclusively Christian media. I am not advocating that as Christians, we should build ourselves a bubble and never venture out. I actually think that isn’t biblical. I think that it is important to be aware of what is happening in our world and in the culture so that we may be a light. We are called to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, not to keep it to ourselves.

But the point I am trying to make is that when we look to the world to find our identity, our acceptance and belonging, we will never find these things. When we fill our heads and our hearts with cultural ideas and values, we suffer. The integrity of the Gospel suffers. We tarnish our witness to the world. It is one thing to be aware of what is happening in our culture, but it is another thing entirely to be so consumed by the culture that we no longer look different from non-Christians.

As Christians, our identity is in Christ and because of His death and resurrection, we are accepted into the family of God, brothers & sisters, fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). We are to guard out hearts with ALL diligence (Proverbs 4:23). This verse is often applied to dating or romantic relationships, but also speaks to how we should protect our hearts from the world.

Here are a few tips to help you break your dependence on social media and focus on what is encouraging and glorifying to God.

  • Purge! Take a look at who and what you are following. If the account isn’t edifying and doesn’t glorify the Lord, unfollow!
  • Discern! Before you respond to a post or leave a comment, ask yourself, Is it your business? If not, keep scrolling! (Sheologians has a great podcast episode on this! It was their idea and it has been so useful in my life.)
  • Consider! Think before you post. Is what you are posting glorifying God or self? Is your post true, right, honorable, and pure?
  • Fast! Consider a fast from social media or technology as a whole. It could be for an afternoon or a whole day, but stop scrolling for a time and devote that time to the Lord instead.

If you are struggling with social media, you’re not alone. Pray about it. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment. Talk to a friend or mentor you trust. If you are struggling with finding your identity in the culture instead of Christ (here’s what I have to say about identity), dig in to the Word.

Maybe even write Phillipians 4:8 on a card or stickie note and place it near your computer screen.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

If you have any other good tips for dealing with social media, let me know in the comments!