Facebook. YouTube. Instagram. Twitter. TikTok. Snapchat. Pinterest. Twenty years ago, who could have dreamed that these names would become as much a part of the younger generation’s world as Woolworth’s, Sears, Texaco, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Pan Am, Kodak, and Polaroid were to the older generation’s? For people like me who grew up in the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s, we’re still wondering what happened to Tab colas, Magnavox vcrs, Blockbuster video stores, and Jordache jeans. But that’s a whole other story.
Yes, our brave new world is one built upon social media as keyboard warriors can be found in every nook and cranny of the internet. They are out there right now posting pictures, creating videos, espousing their opinions, commenting on the opinions of others, tweeting, retweeting, and seeking “friends,” “likes,” and “shares.” According to digitalmarketing.org, almost 4 billion people — that’s one half of the world’s population — use social media, and users spend an average of 144 minutes per day on social media sites. While it’s understood that the numbers vary not only with age levels but also with different parts of the world, an individual average of almost two and a half hours per day spent on social media sites is nothing to ignore. We’re talking about a worldwide phenomenon here.
Like everything else in life, Christians don’t get a free pass in regards to behavior when it comes to social media. The apostle Paul’s God-inspired words to the Christians of his day still hold sway over our day, and he couldn’t have been any clearer on the issue. In Colossians 3:17, he writes: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (N.K.J.V.). Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, he writes: “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (N.K.J.V.).
So, Christian, can you spend time on Facebook in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can you post your pictures on Instagram or your videos on You Tube to the glory of God? Can you do your “likes,” “dislikes,” and comments in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can you share your links to the glory of God? These are questions you need to ask yourself every time you pick up your smart phone or sit down at your computer.
It is with this in mind that I’d like to offer a simple checklist list of seven things that you should be on guard against anytime you enter the realm of social media. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, and its items aren’t even in any particular order, but I trust it will at least get you to thinking seriously about how to apply your Christianity to social media. Ready? Here we go.
#1: Don’t make your social media life more important than your real life. If you frequently catch yourself thinking in the middle of a great day, “I have to get a picture or a video of this because my followers will love it,” you might have a problem. Also, if the person you portray yourself to be on social media bears very little resemblance to who you really are, you might as well be playing a leading role in a fictional Hollywood movie.
#2: Don’t base your self worth upon how many followers you have or how many likes you get. When your feelings get hurt by the fact that other people have more followers than you do, that indicates that you are basing your self worth upon the wrong criteria. Likewise, thinking less of yourself because your new post didn’t create much buzz or response should be a warning alarm that you’ve lost perspective. Remember, Christian, you are a child of God! And nothing that ever happens on social media can change that.
#3: Don’t seek the world’s approval. This one plays off the previous one. The temptation each Christian faces in regards to social media is: “How much like the world am I willing to become to win the internet?” In case you haven’t heard, God’s standards rarely align with the world’s standards, and that means that taking a stand with Him and His written word (the Bible) can create some backlash for you in regards to dislikes and comments. Some people will even unfollow you. But it’s always God’s approval that you should be seeking, not the world’s.
#4: Don’t spend time on social media that you should be spending doing other things. Jesus wants to be the Lord of our time, and He has a list of things that He wants each of us to get done each day. Can this list include spending a couple of hours on social media? Perhaps. I hope we all understand, though, that time spent on social media should never take the place of time spent doing all the other things that Jesus wants us do.
#5: Don’t feel like you have to vent your feelings about every single thing you read or watch on social media. One of the benefits of social media is that it gives every individual a voice. But you, as a Christian, will use your voice the most effectively by being selective as to when you use it. If you start coming off as the world’s leading authority on everything, people will resent you for it and tune you out completely. That’s why you must pick your spots wisely when you have something to say.
#6: Don’t showcase your lewd or crude behavior. It is amazing how some Christians who wouldn’t dream of coming to church scantily clad think nothing of posting pictures of themselves on social media wearing next to nothing. Equally as amazing are the number of Christians who take to social media to show off their partying and carousing. At best, such posts destroy any credibility these professing Christians merit to be God’s voice to a lost world. At worst, they even cast doubt as to the reality of these peoples’ salvation.
#7. Don’t gossip. The Bible verses that condemn gossip are numerous. One example is Proverbs 26:20, which says: “Without wood a fire goes out, without a gossip a quarrel dies down” (N.I.V.). Gossiping has long been a problem, even among Christians, but the platforms of social media now allow tidbits of gossip to run faster and farther than ever before. Therefore, Christian, you must exercise great self control to ensure that you don’t add to the problem.