Only 20 years ago, Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist. The Internet had a dial tone and a 10-minute wait time to get online. Email was considered high tech, and cell phones were three times their current size!
Fast-forward to today, where technology changes on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Here, we are saturated with images and media from people we know and people we don’t. Everywhere we turn, there is social “noise.” Peer pressure that used to be relegated to the halls of school is now constantly around us in the form of social media.
This doesn’t make social media “bad.” Social media is amoral. It has no morality of its own, but can be used for good or for ill depending on who uses it—and who consumes it. Believers in Christ have a responsibility to walk in wisdom regarding social media, being aware of this invisible “peer pressure” and ready to counter it with God’s truth.
How do we do this? Below are three ways social media puts pressure on us, and three blessings God gives to counter them.
1. Insecurity: Social media has been known to cause a drastic increase in feelings of insecurity. Because the images we see are edited and tweaked to present “best face forward,” every time we open an app we must decide whether to give into insecurity or trust the truth of God for our identities. Insecurity about your body, hair, clothes or lifestyle may increase the more time you spend on social media, where it seems everyone is able to accomplish the perfect #ootd or #relationshipgoals.
Security: In contrast to the insecurity social media can cause, Christ offers eternal security! If you’re walking with Him, He has not only secured your eternal destiny—He has promised to be with you here. Today. Your identity is not about what you’ve achieved, but what He has achieved on your behalf. Because of Him you are perfectly righteous in God’s eyes, guaranteed an identity that can never be taken away.
2. Inadequacy: Another invisible peer pressure of social media is inadequacy. Closely tied to insecurity, inadequacy attacks not our identities, but our accomplishments. We look through those pictures, videos and statuses and they all tell us to do more. Be better. While it’s good to be diligent in our endeavors, we should do so for the right motives. If we’re pursuing achievement just to keep up with what we see online, our hearts aren’t in the right place.
Enoughness: Jesus offers an alternative to the lifestyle of constant pursuit. Instead of inadequacy, He offers enoughness. Through Christ, we are made completely sufficient for the things He calls us to do. And if He has not called us to do something, we shouldn’t do it until He does! When we add to our schedule just to prove our adequacy, we feel overwhelmed. But when we say “yes” to God, He provides the strength to accomplish the purposes He has given.
3. Jealousy: Another way social media pressures us is through jealousy, or envy. We feel pressure to keep up with our peers by buying better clothes, getting skinnier or finding a boyfriend. When we don’t have these things, we become jealous and insecure—or even materialistic. While there’s nothing wrong with a cute wardrobe or dating, once again this comes back to motives of the heart.
Peace: Jesus’ solution to envy is peace with Him. He is the Provider of all things good! Your job, your home and your finances all come from His hand. Comparison blinds us to His blessings and keeps us from recognizing the depth of His love.
Social media is not sinful. But it should be handled with wisdom. As you use it, take time to check your heart—are you pressured by insecurity, inadequacy or envy? This is not God’s will for you! Let Him lead you to the best use of your apps—for His glory, and no one else’s.