Are You Hurting Your "Friends"?

Recently, every speaker and every conversation around a table end up at the same place these days…social media. The conversation is rarely uplifting, very authentic, and usually, by the end of the conversation, people are shaking their head in agreement.
But then, just as we get done labeling social media as the antichrist, we (I include myself here) in the next moment are scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We know it brings us negative feelings. We are aware it creates envy. We know it causes us to say and do stupid things, and yet we return to it…again, and again, and again.
Studies show that social media releases the same chemical in our brain that drugs do. It can be addicting. It can never fill a void…and it must be continually fed.
Drugs. Social media. Screen time. Pornography. All these things release the same chemical in our brain that causes us to want more and more while at the same time increasing our depression, our insecurity, and our emptiness. Is it just me or does this have the handprint of Satan all over it? He is the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The things I mentioned above steal our time and rob us of joy. Some of these things literally kill us or sadly, cause some to kill themselves. And most of these things are destroying families, callings, and our land.
As I sit around a table and listen to people talk, they talk about how social media makes them depressed or jealous. However, they all recognize that the highlight reel of their “friend’s” life is made up moments that don’t encompass their entire lives. We know this, and yet it still bothers us. We know that most likely five seconds before that precious family photo, someone was crying, someone was yelling, and the fake smiles turned to frowns the minute the camera stopped snapping. And what about all those trips? Yes, your “friend” is traveling somewhere it seems every other month, but maybe you don’t know how in debt your friend is because they are trying to outlive their means. And then there is your “friend” who continually posts selfies because deep down inside, she or he is hurting and looking for attention from somebody…anybody…because he or she is completely broken. Do we take the time to reach out beyond the screen?
I don’t know about you, but I feel like Facebook and Instagram have turned into a larger-than-life “My kid made the honor roll, and yours didn’t” bumper sticker. I rarely see parents post about the child who fails a class or gets suspended or expelled, but I always see every single award ceremony and school event.
What did we do before social media? Were we lonely, depressed, and jealous because we couldn’t share our worlds with the world? Did we compete with people we don’t even know, but consider a “friend”? Is there anything godly about continually posting every moment of our lives, including those that are posed, and if you are honest, a little fake? Are we causing people to stumble, and in some cases, fall into pits of depression and anxiety? Is it our responsibility to care about how others see our lives? As Christ followers, yes, it is. Jesus commanded us to love God and love others. If we really loved God, we wouldn’t be insecure and feel the need to compete. If we really loved others, we’d use a little self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) before we post something and consider all those “friends” on our list.
Romans 14:13–14 in The Message translation says it well, “Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything, as it is in itself, is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.”
Paul was telling people, “Listen, I know as believers you can eat whatever you want, but if by eating what you want causes someone else to stumble in their walk (or worse not get to Jesus because they can’t get past the food thing), don’t eat it in front of them (maybe ever).” Social media is the same. Just because you can say or post whatever you want, if it affects someone enough to cause them to stumble (be jealous, sad, anxious, suicidal, angry) DON’T do it. If you dig deeper into Romans 14, you’ll see that Paul was addressing the issue of the weak and the strong.
Let’s be wise about what we post (and don’t post), and if you feel the need to post your highlight reel, make sure it includes the best moments and the worst moments. Because then, and only then, will your posts be helpful and authentic.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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