3 Social Media Myths (That we unfortunately believe)
Our world feels like it’s at social media saturation point. Yet, it also feels like there’s a lot more advancing in this digital age. No matter what we think we believe about social media, it is undeniable that it’s shaping our every thought and act. Jessie Faeber Founder of Belle, a Christian organisation aiming to inspire and equip young women shares myths that this generation are accepting.
Value is determined by others
Psychologists have concluded time and time again that our self-perception is shaped by our social context. The relationship between our perception of what others think of us and how we perceive ourselves is seemingly tangible and irrefutable.
This year I conducted some research into the effect of Instagram on the self-esteem of teenage girls. Take a look at some of their comments:
‘‘You can post good selfies and feel great and get lots of likes and it makes me feel like everyone likes me’
‘People put comments saying you’re not worth living and it takes a toll on your self-confidence’
‘If I don't get likes I know the picture is ugly so I just delete it’
What is also terrifying is that ten thousand people google every month, ‘Am I Ugly?’, evidence of the yearning of young people to seek self-affirmation via digital means. Social Media, no matter the platform, creates a digital self which requires affirmation through attention and attraction. There’s nothing wrong with displaying ourselves and our lives in the digital sphere, but we cannot rely on attention and attraction (i.e. the amount of likes we get or online traffic we create!) to sustain us because this creates a fluid and fragile identity crisis. Our value is deeper and more concrete than just our physicality.
Our value is inherent in the fact that we are the sons and daughters of God himself. Our value is inherent in the fact that God designed our lives: our appearance, our passions and our character individually and uniquely from all other beings on Earth. Our value is inherent in that fact that we are masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10), and in the fact that there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less.
Perfection is possible
Facebook tend s to be a platform for sharing our latest accolades and achievements, whist Instagram is a platform for sharing visual representations of our lives. In conversations with the ‘Insta-famous’ (those who are paid to post seemingly perfect images online to sell a particular brand or item), the following became apparent:
‘Online it looked like I had the perfect life… yet I was so completely lonely and miserable inside. I hid it from everyone.’
‘I think there’s a big difference between sharing content to inspire and sharing content to show off and it’s something so commonly confused by influencers as its addictive to get a kick out of making people jealous.’
The Social Media sphere is innately linked with comparison. The issue is that, although a picture paints a thousand words, it doesn’t necessarily paint reality. Our digital self is not an accurate representation of our real self, especially when it’s coupled with editing processes and filters. Yet, the digital world breeds comparison, jealousy and envy which leads to feelings of imperfection and insecurity. You only need to check out the recent BBC news stating that the pressure to look perfect hits at girls’ confidence.
It’s scary to think that even those people influencing us the most on Social Media aren’t always presenting an accurate representation of their lives, simply the highlight reel, and people are consequently on a treadmill of desire to reach such perceived, pixilated perfection.
God doesn’t call us to be perfect. God calls us to come as we are. God calls us to be authentic, real and genuine. God sees our backstage as well as our front stage: and he loves both intimately. God sees our heart, not just the image we present. God sees into our soul: how beautiful is your soul?
"Life with God is about living life to the full. Relationship with God is an adventure in itself. With God, we make the ordinary extraordinary."
Life must be a series of adventurous events
Social Media leads us to strive to be everywhere at one point in time. We are living under the impression that every moment should be glorified online. We are living under the impression that we must lead an edgy, adventurous lifestyle. Social Media promotes a ‘not yet’ mentality, consistently comparing what we don’t yet look like, go on holiday, own and/or eat. However, paradoxically, we aren’t living in the moment.
We are called to cultivate intimacy through rest and contemplation. Yes, this may be ‘easier’ from a mountain top (that must be Instagrammed with a super catchy quote), but also in quiet contemplation from the messy, normality of inside our bedroom walls. Don’t miss out on the joy of present by constantly striving for the ‘not yet’.
Life with God is about living life to the full. Relationship with God is an adventure in itself. With God, we make the ordinary extraordinary.
Social Media presents an opportunity for us to be counter-cultural in our approach to identity. As children of God, we are enough as we are, where we are: our value doesn’t have to be determined by Social Media. Who we are is determined by our Creator and that is what satisfies the soul. Let God’s words be knit together in a unique, authentic tapestry displaying the true beauty of who you are.