Did you ever meet or know anyone who just wasn’t into social media? Perhaps this person is largely ignorant about it or simply doesn’t want to take the time to keep up their various accounts. This person may be illiterate enough in the world of social networking to think that a request from a relative to follow them on LinkedIn is spam because they don’t have a clue what this suspicious LinkedIn site is, or maybe he or she would tell you that they would rather hear real birds twitter outside their window than spend their days “tweeting.” Whatever the case, this person just isn’t that into you, dear social media.
Now, this mysterious person we are speaking of is not your grandmother or some hippie pretender who wants to “unplug” from the world of social media and create a utopia where cell phones are banned. No, this person is me, and, until several weeks ago, I perfectly fit the description above.
However, I am pleased to report that I am now an enthusiastic user of Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and I am finding that all of them provide a connection to friends and the world at large in unique ways. Suffice it to say, I appreciate the fact that I am no longer illiterate about what is mundanely familiar to nearly all of my peers.
I originally joined sites like Instagram and Twitter because of a communication class at school but am choosing keep the accounts up even after the assignments are finished. An interesting aspect to my initiation into the realm of social media was that my professor asked all the students to do an analysis on how the church could use platforms like the ones I mentioned above. I thought this was a very relevant question, especially when put into the context of my own life as a believer and the lifestyle of the body of Christ as a whole. Just from some casual searches on the web, I can see that there’s a good deal of opinion on the issue, so I thought I would throw in my two cents on what a Christian view of social media might look like for millennial believers:
Firstly, as I ponder the question, what comes to mind is how brave am I when it comes to being authentic on social media? I don’t think anyone would question the fact that people can use Instagram and Facebook to create a façade rather than reflect an accurate portrait of their lives but, while I was aware of this growing up, I am realizing more and more now that I will need courage to be myself and stand for what I believe both in my own output and my responses to other people’s. For instance, as a young Christian woman, my willingness to post a Bible verse or defend a Scriptural principle or refuse to engage in a certain kind of talk on Facebook says a lot about how solid my convictions are. If I can’t stand up to a computer or IPhone screen and be me and say what I truly believe, then there’s not much hope for me in the real world.
Secondly, I believe that Christian millennials should not be afraid to unplug and have real experiences with people and with God instead of just talking about them or reading about them on social media. If we are truly to walk the walk with integrity, we should be reading our Bibles daily in addition to posting a verse on Facebook and be dialoguing with the Lord while still maintaining connection with friends via Snap Chat or the Messenger app. This is something that I have been convicted about lately (even as I write this) because, if my daily life in God and my relationships with people are not where they should be, I want to know that I am not depending on any kind of escape or outlet to take the place of the intimacy I should be having with others.
Lastly, I think the heart of the matter is to occasionally ask “why am I doing this? (i.e. posting this picture, sharing this article, writing this anecdote).” Now, I don’t mean that we have to stage an interrogation in front of the mirror every time we want to post a cute picture of our pet kitten, but I am suggesting that social media is a tool that we can use to enlighten, encourage, and benefit others. Being intentional about what we do and why is always a good rule of thumb for every area of life, so why not with the kind of content we are putting out there on social networking sites? Our friends and followers will greatly appreciate a healthy self-awareness, something that often seems to be lacking in some of the postings we see today. At the end of the day, it’s just Biblical to respect others with our words and use them for a good cause, no matter if they are spoken or written, so it doesn’t have to get any more complex than that for Christians.
But it not just for the sake of others that we should be self-aware about why we are using social media: it’s for us, too. For example, I am aware (and hopefully will become more so) of certain unhealthy tendencies in myself and how they relate to social media. From pictures of myself, to that perfectly crafted post, to the number of “likes” I receive, I often find I am doing/desiring it all for selfish, narcissist reasons which do not need to be fed. The more I know myself, the more I begin to realize why and how I am using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and I wonder if it would be enlightening for you to stop and ponder your motives as well.
All in all, I think social media is a tool to be enjoyed and also, as an insightful article from GotQuestions.org (which helped to inform this entire article) points out, it is possible for Christians to be “willing to let God use our participation for His glory.” The Lord wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives, so asking Him for His opinion and exploring His Word concerning principles for your social media habits can only aid you in your journey.