Some of us could qualify for a 12-step program because we’re addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, and there are others of who are altogether terrified of social media. Many have a love/hate relationship with social media (this includes me). We check our Twitter feeds throughout the day and post pictures of an idealized version of our lives on Instagram but complain about how these and Facebook eat away at our productivity.
However you feel about it, we must recognize that social media is a powerful tool whether it is used for building God’s kingdom or in the hands of someone intent on evil.
In 2011, Egyptians used Twitter to create an enormous grassroots movement that has now been dubbed the Arab Spring. This week, the masses have flexed their social media muscles by speaking out and putting an end to a book deal with juror B37 from the Zimmerman murder trial. As I am writing this, Rolling Stone magazine is defending itself from outrage over their cover story featuring the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The hashtag #boycottrollingstone is trending heavily with the goal of pressuring Rolling Stone into pulling the issue before it hits market shelves. So far, CVS pharmacy, Walgreens, and several other chains have decided against selling this month’s Rolling Stone.
It is continually surprising to me that these social media tools have become integral parts of shaping culture. Unfortunately, they’ve also been used to terrorize individuals and spread gossip. Cyberbullying has become a significant problem in schools recently, and with youth’s access to smart phones and personal computers, it’s not likely to decrease.
So, how can we use these tools to bring about awakening in our spheres of influence, while not letting them pollute our minds with gossip and rob us of joy by comparing our lives to an idealized version of someone else’s?
Consider God’s Word from James 3:9-12-“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
The writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). For this reason, I often simply put verses from the Bible as my status updates on Facebook. I have a lot of Facebook friends who are not believers, and I pray that God might use something as simple as a status update to touch their lives.
If you find yourself sucked into the idol of comparison, coveting someone else’s perfect life on social media, remember that they are not likely posting their difficult moments—you’re only seeing the good times and not the trials. And if you continue to be drawn in, take a break for a while—a week or a month. Remember to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1). This chapter goes on to teach us that peace comes from gratitude and prayer.
Jesus teaches, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). We must also guard what goes into our minds, just as much as we must filter what words we use.
Ask God how he can use your online presence to encourage others to enter into his presence today.