03 Aug The Counterfeit Community of Social Media
It is evident today that in this Information Age social media plays a large role in many of our daily lives.
On average, we spend 20% of our waking hours on social media, equivalent to one out of every five minutes. There’s no denying that social media is powerful and has captured the minds of our church family. As believers, there are several questions we need to be asking ourselves as it relates to social media such as “Is social media bad?” “How did this ‘addiction’ to social media begin?” and “How can we handle and use social media in a way that is profitable and not destructive to our souls?”
The answers are not that easy to give; they are actually rather complicated and different for each person. For us to begin to understand how we should or should not engage with social media, we need to first look to what is written in the first chapters of Genesis.
What we find in Genesis 2 is that even in a world without sin, God recognized man’s need for community. God declared that, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). This was the first time that God said that something was “not good”, and it was the only time that it was said before sin entered the world. The question that we might be wondering is if Adam was in the presence of God, why would he need anything else? In Genesis 2, Adam was standing with and communicating with the Creator of the universe, but God said it was still “not good” for man because he was alone.
“We are in desperate need for authentic and genuine community, and that is how many of us have become so attached to social media.”
Even in a world without sin, Adam needed community—authentic, genuine community. If community was necessary for Adam in a sinless world, it is even more necessary for us in our broken world. We are in desperate need for authentic and genuine community, and that is how many of us have become so attached to social media. The need for community we have allowed social media to fill is an illusion. We may think that if we have hundreds of likes on Facebook or Instagram that we are loved or that if we have hundreds of friends or followers that we are known, but we are deceived. It is an illusion that is momentarily feeding our soul and is then quickly leaving us dry, lacking, and lonely.
The reason we use social media is to fulfill our desire to belong. We have allowed ourselves to believe a lie. We have tricked ourselves into believing that we will be fulfilled by the amount of likes or followers that we have, but the truth is that we will never be fulfilled or find complete hope or satisfaction in those empty numbers. The only true fulfillment is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“The types of relationships that Christ died for are not found in the confines of your Instagram or Facebook accounts. These relationships are only found through Christ in a community of fellow believers.”
In Ephesians 2, Paul directly discusses the identity of a people group that we can relate to today. Paul is speaking about not only whom we are as a people, but about whom we can be through Jesus Christ. What Paul wrote is that Christ died so that we would not only be reconciled to Him, but Christ died to reconcile us to each other. Christ’s blood was shed to tear down the dividing wall of hostility and to unite us to Him and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. What we must understand about social media is that we are not genuinely or authentically united to our followers. If someone likes your picture that does not mean that they know you, and they especially do not know the inner workings of your soul. The types of relationships that Christ died for are not found in the confines of your Instagram or Facebook accounts. These relationships are only found through Christ in a community of fellow believers.
Here are some questions to help you wrestle with how you use social media:
1. What is your motivation for using social media? What are you using it for? In what ways are you possibly being self-serving and self-promoting?
2. By your use of social media, how are you benefiting others and promoting unity?
3. Do you have the kind of relationships that Jesus died for? Do you have genuine community that is under authority?
Ultimately, social media itself is not bad, but it is powerful and can easily feed us lies about the community that our souls desperately crave.
This post was adapted from the Decade 20 talk on Social Media by Will Plonk. Decade 20 is a gathering in which we seek to challenge the 20-something cultural narrative with an honest look at Jesus and the Bible. The next Decade 20 will begin with a teaching on sexuality at 7:00pm, August 8, at our Downtown campus, and will be followed by a shag on the lawn at 8:30pm. Come join us for dancing, refreshments, and live music!