I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but I have suffered an addiction of another kind. Out of nowhere, it snuck up on me like the abrupt discovery of a fast-moving cancer. Deceived by its socially acceptable nature, I initially didn’t think I had a problem, until it was undeniable. I have a social media addiction.
Just a few years ago I was the man who didn’t have any social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, instagram etc.). “I don’t need one,” I’d argue. From there, I transitioned into the man clinging tightly to his flip phone. Who cared if the rest of the world tweeted, face-timed, or Instagrammed? I was content in my cave next door to the Flintstones. Then I tasted the 21st century, and liked it.
I upgraded to a smartphone, dabbling in Facebook. Then things slowly started to snowball when I began blogging. That’s when I dove into the deep end like Pastor E.A. Adeboye: signing up for Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and Pinterest all in the same day. Soon I found myself looking like the rest of the world, with a shining device in one hand, scrolling through feeds.
We have become a nation of social media addicts, carrying the objects of our addictions wherever we go. And the responsibility of self-control lies with the individual; we have to police ourselves.
This is no small feat, according to Adam Alter, a New York University professor who said: “…when you get a like on social media, all of those experiences produce dopamine, which is a chemical associated with pleasure.” We are not solely up against our own willpower, but a chemical change in our brains.
I have discovered that God is the only remedy strong enough to free us from technologies’ trappings. In Him alone, we find benefits no social media platform can offer us.
Social media can never offer the full truth
We live in an age of relativism, which means that all truth, morality, and knowledge are dependent on the individual’s experiences, and there are no absolutes. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Internet. Social media has become a hodgepodge of differing philosophies on everything from sexuality to politics. If we look to social media to determine what truth is, at best we will be confused. We cannot rely on social media to know truth. In order to know truth we must know God through Jesus Christ. We see this in John 14:6, when Jesus tells his disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Social media cannot offer us worth
I need to update my status, post a pic, and comment on that photo. Don’t forget the hashtags. Did I get any comments today? Who liked my pictures? How many shares? Like a cyber junkie these thoughts began to compete for real estate in my brain. And now if I am not careful, social media will become my go to when I have free-time, downtime, or no time at all. Like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the sound of a bell something keeps luring me back; and I am not alone.
We congregate on our platforms like teens in high school asking with every update, picture, and post, “Do you like me?” Playing the one-up game, we compete to see whose vacation, latest accomplishment, and foodie pic is better than everyone else. And depending on the response we receive, there is the potential to become a little puffed up with our cyberspace letterman jackets.
If I’m honest, I will admit, likes on social media are a confidence booster, but it is fleeting. Basing our worth on the inconsistent feedback of our cyber relationships will only leave us perpetually stuck in a performance trap. God’s security, on the contrary, is not based on anything we do. It is abundantly available to us, with no strings attached.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10: 29 – 31.
Social media cannot love us.Social media cannot love us
Heart emojis have dulled the true meaning of love. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 defines love in a way that contradicts a lot of what we see on our social media platforms.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.”
If we turn to social media to feel loved, eventually we will find our love tanks on E, empty. Paul’s description of love is the antithesis of a lot of what we see on social media. If we are going to truly know love we must look to the word of God and not our phones. He will love us if we never post another picture, update our status, hashtag, or tweet.
Social media takes away precious time. Social media takes away precious time
Although social media can make our world smaller, enabling us to connect with distant friends and loved ones, it can also drive a wedge in our relationships. If we allow it to, social media can deceive us into believing that the information on our phones is more important than the person we are spending time with. Whether we are with our kids, our spouse, girlfriends, or our Father in heaven; we must value that time as special and deserving of uninterrupted attention.
Some ways we can do this is by imposing no-device zones in our homes, having device-free dinner times, and simply turning our phones off. We must be intentional in order to prioritize the time we have with those we love the most. Psalm says it like this: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Social media can’t fill us with hope. Social media can’t offer us the wisdom we need
Social Media has also become a great way to readily access information. If you are looking for a great restaurant, ask a question on Facebook. If you need a new hairstylist, look on Instagram. We can even find new careers on social media.
The information found on these platforms also delves into deeper topics like, faith, race, and morality. We can find information on whatever we desire to know more about. And whereas this is a useful tool, we must remember that knowledge “puffs-up,” but wisdom, which is the application of knowledge, comes from God. Just as it says in Proverbs 2:6-8: “All wisdom comes from the Lord and so do common sense and understanding.”
Social media can’t offer us Christ-like character
When it comes to character, the book of James gives a vivid description of just how it is cultivated in our lives.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James: 1:2-4
Since social media most often entails the highlight reels of our lives, maintaining our platforms doesn’t afford us an opportunity to grow in Christ-like character. On the contrary, character is developed in the unseen parts our lives. It is in the countless prayers we plead over our loved ones, the service we give without thanks, and the forgiveness we offer when it is undeserved. This is the character that social media cannot give to us.
Social media can’t offer us God
If we truly had a revelation of who God is, it is possible we would have no desire for social media at all. Scripture describes Him as light, living water, hope, peace, truth, a provider, a wonderful counselor, omniscient, omnipotent, merciful, just, loving, and so much more. If we had an awareness of all that He is, we would be lacking nothing.
Somehow this truth has been lost, leaving many to believe the lie that social media is something we cannot live without. If this is a reality for us, the only way to view God as greater than the temptation of social media is to spend time in His presence. Through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation on scripture; we realize there are several good things God gives that social media cannot. Time we spend with God is always time well spent.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
• Yusuf can be reached on 08023423396 or email:[email protected]