Social media became prevalent around us so quickly that we hardly even noticed it happened. We’re on social media at work, at home, and everywhere in between. And it can bring plenty of good into our lives.
But as with most things, excess can be trouble for us. Having recently realized some ways that social media can be “unhelpful excess” in my own life, I want to share five ways social media changes me (hopefully in a way that impacts the way we all use it).
Social Media Makes Me Me-Centered
Social media, at its best, is an online conversation where I get to connect with others, even those who I love but live far away. Social media at its most common, however, is me putting together an impressive persona.
Social media not only exacerbates my desire to be exciting and impressive to others; it also gives me an avenue to try to satisfy this desire like never before.
Being immersed in this online scoreboard-for-life causes me to be more self-centered over time. The vanity board I have online can make me desire the same look-at-me attitude in real life.
Social Media Makes Me Forget To Focus On Real People In Real Life
I can put so much time and energy into maintaining online relationships and a persona that I fail to put time and energy into the real, physical people we see everyday—family, friends, neighbors, or church.
That doesn’t mean that online friendship is bad, but it does mean that I should never neglect the people in my life that are actually, physically in my life.
Taking more time away from social media leaves me with more time and energy to talk with the friends who live near me, to pray for people in my family and church, and build relationships with those who are geographically in my life.
Social Media Makes Me Forget My Primary Callings
In an age where we are connected to the whole world, I often forget that God primarily calls me to invest in those who are my neighbors and in my local church (remember that most commands given in the Bible are directed in the context of neighbors and local churches.)
My primary calling is to love God, serve my family, serve at my work, and serve in my church.
Stephen Altrogge has written a great piece on being crushed by too many callings through Facebook—a problem of which most of us suffer. Social media can be an avenue that distracts from from primary calling, creates envy for others’ callings, or exhausts me from too many competing callings.
Me, me family, my church, and my neighborhood would all be well-served by less engagement online and more engagement in person.
Social Media Can Ruin My Mood
It could be someone posting something unbiblical. It might be a ridiculous tweet about politics. It might just be a random inane Facebook post about nothing in particular. Any of these things have the ability to ruin my moods, making me sad (at best) and angry (at worst).
Engaging people on Facebook or Twitter about a disagreement is rarely fruitful. 90% of the time it devolves into an online shouting match. Nothing gets solved. No one’s opinion ever changes.
Both people walk away angrier as a result. Even reading a contentious “discussion” can ruin my mood. That attitude is one I can bring home, making me shorter with family and friends.
Social Media Can Ruin Relationships
We only think about how social media keeps relationships alive—and it certainly can. However, it has severed just as many as it has maintained. It’s easy for me to say things online that I would never say in person. I can simply throw a tweet out about the day’s news cycle and never give it a second thought. It’s often written far more harshly than I would ever speak it.
I shoot flaming arrows into the internet and relationships get burned. Perfectly good friendships become battlegrounds for political disagreement. People I would potentially have an opportunity to witness to are, instead, placed on the other side of a mile-high wall of political and personal hostility—harming any chance of friendship in the future.
We need to take stock of the ways that social media affects us. It may be a place for us to exercise our own vanity. It might distract us from the people for whom we are called to care. Facebook and Twitter might be a place where we argue and harm relationships and friendships over politics or petty discussions.
Social media might be a part of our lives that is beneficial in small amounts but harms our moods in excess.
Let’s make sure that our witness is stronger, online and in person. For many, this means shutting social media down more often. As with anything in our lives, let’s be honest enough to ask the question, “is how I am using this bringing glory to God, or not?”