The invention of social media has changed our world considerably. You can’t turn on the TV, turn the page of a newspaper, or check out a website without seeing the icons of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and more. The connections that you’re able to make with people around the world with a few taps on the screen were unthinkable fifteen years ago.
Some of my closest friends in life were connections that formed through social media. I’ve met people in person from Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! I remember the days when meeting someone from Myspace were traps to run away from, yet with tools like Skype and others, you can generally get an idea of the realness/actual existence of a person (you can still be ‘catfished’ though LOL!).
In the midst of those positives, and others not mentioned, the life-sucking feeling for validation and self-promotion both run rampant on social media. It shows itself in many forms; from the stupid things people do in order to go viral, to people actually stealing content from others to display as their own in an attempt to gain followers.
I can list the things done in the name of validation forever, but I felt inspired to write this piece after reading the story of someone who ‘quit’ social media after pretending for so long. She gained half a million followers, yet many, if not all her posts were contrived to paint a picture, or were sponsored. Take a read after you’re done with this post –> 100 SHOTS, ONE DAY OF NOT EATING: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SAY WHAT REALLY GOES INTO THE PERFECT BIKINI SELFIE?.
You may read this and say to yourself, “I’m so glad this is not me, and I have a life outside of this.” I’d say the same thing in full agreement, yet I’d caution you that the social influence self-promotion and the need for validation can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.
There was a season of ‘selfie-taking’ (I hate the word selfie 😧😒) that took place in my life. I didn’t post a pic EVERYDAY, but as I look back, I see that I didn’t really have to do the amount that I did. A friend here and there would make mention of it, but I didn’t see it as being too much. I also remember a friend pointing out how similar my selfie pics were, and I looked back and saw that she was right:
The crazy thing is, I remember posting a pic where I had a pimple and imperfections that some people would freak out over in their lives, just to explain that our validation doesn’t come from looking perfect or having the right pose. Yet, taking selfies is so common, that it doesn’t look weird for you to post a ‘good morning pic’ or a ‘just because’ pic on a consistent basis.
The point I’m making is that the ability to be influenced is far greater than we give credit for! I never thought that I’d say to myself, “You could’ve taken less selfies than you did.” I never thought I’d look back and say, “Why did I take that pic, what purpose was that for??”
As the reader, you may go far beyond the mere influence of seeking validation, and truly feel the rush of approval when your likes and follows are all sky high. You don’t do videos because they’re just funny to you and you wanted to, but in order to increase the possibility of going viral. You may pose in pics for the purpose of getting a reaction from the huge amount of ‘friends’ you have.
I know how cliché it becomes to tell you to find your validation in Christ and not in people, yet clichés get their power from them being true in some ways. The human heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and the need for self-promotion and the existence of pride can make social media the platform to express those vices.
These issues come from vanity as well as insecurity, and we must examine ourselves and our motives for what we do and why. The desire to be valued as a human being exists because we have inherent value. But seeking to earn that value is where we mess up. Be grounded in the love of Christ and know the value you have. It’s not earned, it’s in you because God created you with it. Use social media, instead of being USED by social media.
Make a practice of checking yourself, as well as taking a break from social media. Live life in fullness, not everything has to be recorded or displayed.
There’s a reason why the two greatest commands are to love God, and then love others as yourself. You won’t love someone you don’t value. So think of where your value is towards God, yourself, and others. Make sure it’s in the right place. Now that’s valid.
Check out NY rap artist Army and his song Valid. It came to mind before I started writing this post!