Was there ever a better or worse thing invented?
For me, it all started with MySpace. I was in high school when I signed up for my first account and, oh man, was my profile awesome. I had the glittery theme. The perfect profile picture. Every single band I’d ever heard listed under my favorite music. My Top 6 friends carefully chosen. (Wasn’t that horrible?)
Then when I started college it was Facebook, because at the time you had to be in college to have a Facebook account. Soon after that came Twitter, then Instagram, then Pinterest (which still makes me miserable and rocks my world at the same time). I never jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon, but that one’s pretty crowded, too.
Social media has been a blessing for me because it has helped me store memories and pictures, find recipes and gift ideas, share funny moments, build a writing career, and most importantly, helped me keep in touch with friends and relatives I don’t see often. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, earn a living, and relate to one another.
But in some ways, it has also been a curse.
This morning, the first thing I did when I woke up was check Instagram and Facebook. In doing so, I found out I’d been unfollowed by one of my Internet “friends.” I also noticed that everyone else seems to be on their game. They’re all taking awesome vacations my family can’t take right now. They all have cleaner, prettier homes. Their cars are newer. Their wardrobes are more stylish.
Surely none of them have massive debt hovering over their shoulders. Surely none of them are worried that they’ve passed their own chronic illness onto their child. And I bet none of them are second-guessing their career choices or living in fear every day of what’s next.
Within ten minutes of waking up this morning, I had myself convinced that everyone I know is wealthier, healthier, and altogether more peaceful.
All because of social media.
Now, I realize nobody’s life is perfect. I know that in my head. But after scrolling through everyone’s pretty, curated pictures, my heart feels otherwise.
Raise your hand if social media has ever made you feel
- Lonely or left out
- Behind (in motherhood, homemaking, family, career, or life in general)
Have you ever started your day on the wrong foot because of something you saw on Facebook, something you interpreted negatively and internalized?
Or how about at the end of a long day, after you’ve worked, fed kids, done laundry, swiped crumbs off the counter, walked the dogs, cleaned the litter pan, wrapped the Christmas or birthday gifts, or anything else you do in a day? Have you ever settled on the sofa to rest for a minute, logged in to Instagram, and seen that So-and-So’s kitchen (with granite countertops, of course) is not only pristine, but that she has also baked gluten-free cookies for the school’s bake sale tomorrow, even though she has three kids compared to your one?
Even if you have a healthy self-esteem and you know your identity is firmly rooted in Christ, have you at least been tempted to think this way? To compare your situation to someone else’s, even though you may be in entirely different seasons of life?
It’s so easy. And it’s oh, so dangerous.
I know to Whom I belong (Colossians 3:1-3). I know the Lord tells me to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things. But when I’m sitting in my messy living room and the baby is crying and the bank account is overdrawn again, it’s so much easier to look around at the mess.
Social media, when used for the wrong purposes, invites a spirit of ingratitude into our lives.
It becomes yet another tool the enemy uses to lie to us and invite us into jealousy, self-pity, and hopelessness.
We’ll never get out of debt. I’ll never be healthy again. Our home will never be satisfying. We’ll never be able to travel again. I’ll never be able to feed my family organic, grass-fed, gluten-free, sugar-free homecooked meals. Or get in shape. Or get organized. Or publish another book. Or get invited to the party. Or afford clothes like that. Or…
When I catch myself thinking thoughts like that, I feel ashamed.
I’m learning to get better at recognizing those moments of ingratitude and insecurity so I can stop those thoughts in their tracks before they become strongholds.
But it’s a process. It takes daily awareness.
Lysa TerKeurst covers this topic pretty extensively in her book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. She writes:
“I’m not who that guy says I am. I’m not who that girl says I am. I’m not who social media likes and comments say I am. I’m not who the grades, to-do lists, messes, and mess ups say I am. I’m not who the scale says I am or the sum total of what my flaws say I am. I’m going to stop flirting with the unstable things of this world so I can fall completely in love with You. I am loved. I am held. I am Yours. I am forever Yours. The more intimacy like this that I have with God, the more secure my true identity is.”
Sometimes I’m not even who I say I am. I get myself so convinced that I’m not good enough, all because of the things I may or may not accomplish in a day. I willingly step right into the comparison trap whenever I observe what others are doing and assume I should be doing the same. But I should be walking where God leads me, not where social media leads me.
This is ongoing. It will be a daily battle, just as we are to renew our minds over and over again (Romans 12:2). Just as His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He knows it’s a process for us, and He offers Himself afresh each day. He won’t abandon us in our struggle to learn who we really are.
On days when social media shifts my focus, here’s how I shift it back:
- Disconnect. Turn off the devices and take a break for the rest of the day or week. Sometimes I’ll delete apps from my phone so I’m not as tempted to check in regularly.
- Revisit a project. Instead of obsessing over what other people are doing, I feel much healthier when I focus on my own household or professional projects, such as reorganizing the kitchen or working on my next book.
- Go outside with a book. Getting outside with a favorite book or Bible study is revitalizing. It helps me refocus on what’s important.
- Exercise. I’ll be honest: this one has been a challenge since I gave birth. It’s not that I haven’t recovered; it’s just that I haven’t jumped back into a good exercise routine yet. Sometimes I strap the baby in the carrier and wear her around the house while I do countless loads of laundry (thank you, cloth diapers!) and vacuum the floors. Let me tell you, baby squats are intense!
- Quote Scripture. A few years ago, I typed up a Daily Confession List that I try to speak consistently over myself, my family, our home, and our future. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m too often reluctant to put down my phone or turn off the TV so I can do this instead. But speaking God’s Word over our circumstances is a much more accurate fulfillment of my role as a wife and mama than scrollling aimlessly through Facebook or Instagram.
On days when social media steals my peace, I try to take a step back and create the white space I need to remember who I am. My worth doesn’t rest in my likes, comments, or followers. It doesn’t rest in the appearance of my home or self. It doesn’t come from my bank account or professional status.
It comes from Christ alone.