I work in social media marketing, which means that I am online all day every day. I follow along on social media accounts, create posts, analyze likes and comments and shares, and pray that the content I create will help businesses grow, sell more products, and gain more customers. I have used Facebook for personal use for years and was so happy when I could chat with people on Messenger rather than use my lame email address (which we all have- admit it). So when people began to say that social media is damaging society, I struggled with that statement. How can something that connects you with people from all over the world, no matter where you are (even the backcountry of Wiarton) be bad?
No, I am not going to make this into a blog about the pros and cons of social media, so please keep reading. This is about living authentically, even when it is so easy to show people the perfect versions of who we think we are and how our life is going.
I recently took a trip to Florida and found myself posting about the sun, waves, alligators, and time spent with friends. No matter how many likes or comments my images received, however, I felt empty. Yes, I had a great time, but it wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t the whole story.
My community on social media didn’t see a breakdown at the dinner table because I was feeling utterly overwhelmed and heartbroken. They didn’t see the internal struggle I had when I began to feel overcome with anxiety and depression even though friends who are like family surrounded me. They didn’t see the headaches that followed me around or the early mornings spent alone in prayer and worship because I was already nervous about what the day would bring and how I would feel. Yes, I had a great time and all of the moments of happiness and joy and laughter filled my heart, but they weren’t the only emotions that my heart and head were trying to process. So why did I only share the good stuff, and not the bad?
Now, I am not saying to post your entire life story online. Yes, there is a time and place for sharing your journey and the good, the bad, and the ugly, but there is a responsibility that comes with it as well. Posting cryptic messages that only bring worry and concern are best to be shared in person with loved ones, counselors, or mentors. That being said, we need to be real and authentic. How?
Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is easier to compare ourselves to others than those around us. Instead of congratulating a friend on their engagement or posting a string of excited emoji’s on a family members pregnancy announcement, many of us internalize these moments of joy in someone else’s life and say, “Good for them, but what about me?” Yes, it is hard to see someone living a life that seems to be filled to the brim with abundance and blessing, but do you know the full story?
That new mom who posted a photo of her sleeping baby may have spent three hours trying to get the baby to fall asleep after having an exhausting day herself. That pastor who posted about their vacation may be taking time for themselves after serving others endlessly. That guy who posted about a new job may have been forced to find different work because he couldn’t afford unexpected medical expenses. Just as there are two sides to every coin, there are two sides to every story even if only one gets seen.
Social media is an incredible tool that allows us to stay connected, communicate with each other, and check-in on how people are doing. It is only a useful tool if we use it authentically. Yes, consider the effects of the “highlight reel” before posting, but also know that your value and worth is not dependant on someone else’s “like count,” filtered beauty, and one-sided story. Acknowledge that everyone has struggles and that everyone has difficulties they are facing- whether they show them or not, and that we are all just trying to figure out life together.
Part of living authentically is knowing that we have all been created equal, yet we are all on a different journey. God doesn’t play favourites. He doesn’t measure the likes, comments, and shares and determines your value from them. He determines your value from His authentic self who called you into being. God is always true and does not waver, so believe that He did not hesitate when we created you.
Your authentic self is more valuable than you realize. Who God created you to be is a part of His PERFECT plan. Instead of basing your value on the things of this world, base them on God. He is the only one whose “Likes” matters, and you have them in endless supply.