Times have changed. When I was a teenager I was a young punk. I got in so much trouble. One of the greatest regrets of mine was getting in a brutal fist fight two weeks before my graduation (I must add that I was the victor so it was kind of worth it). Subsequently, the school had no choice but to suspend me. My suspension lasted long enough to make me miss my graduation ceremony. I got my diploma, but I didn’t get the joy of walking with my classmates and I was not allowed to return to the school to say goodbye to any of my friends.
All of this went down in 1997. In 1997 there was no such thing as the Internet, cell phones, texting, or social media. Being yanked out of school so abruptly, left me longing for my friends. In 2003 something called MySpace came onto the scene. This was the first opportunity that I got to reconnect with old friends. Facebook quickly replaced MySpace as the number one site for connecting with friends.
The rise of social media was a great thing for me. Suddenly I wasn’t so sad about being yanked out of school! I was able to connect with my friends, share some thoughts, pictures, and memories. It was great!
Not too long after joining Facebook, I noticed something rising up inside of me. I didn’t realize it, but I was starting to get jealous of the lives that my friends were living. I saw people in nice homes, possessors of great college degrees, great bodies, awesome vacations, and what appeared to be the perfect life. What was wrong with me? I didn’t go on my first vacation until I was 33 years old. I didn’t have the perfect body. My house was not that great. I didn’t get my first college degree until I was 30 years old!
For years what seemed to be a good thing, eventually turned into a very bad thing. To top it off, the social media bug was hitting my wife as well. On Facebook she saw the perfect wife and mom with perfect kids. Social media made her question how great of a mom, or wife that she was. Now I am not writing to brag about my wife, but she is the greatest wife or mother that I know. So, what was causing her to doubt her identity as a mother or wife?
What caused her to doubt herself was what we eventually coined as ‘fakebook!’ Fakebook had devoured the two of us! What do I mean by fakebook? Simple; Facebook is fake. The lives that we see portrayed are simply fictions for the most part. We are seeing the best of everyone. People don’t want us to see the real side of their lives, so they put on a front.
When I talk about people, I am not just talking about everyone else, but I am talking about myself as well. We are all guilty of faking it on Facebook. How many of you have taken pictures over-and-over again just to get the perfect shot? How many of you have taken a selfie over-and-over again to get the perfect smile? Maybe you fixed your hair, or added makeup? How many of you have cropped the dirty laundry out of a picture or quickly cleaned crumbs off of the floor in order to not show off your filth? I could go on and on, but you get the point.
What drives this insanity? It is quite simple. We are posers wanting people to think that we have it all together! We desire to receive affirmation from others. We are driven by the amount of ‘likes’ that we get or how many comments that we receive. We have a strong desire for others to think highly of us. In short, it is pride on our behalf.
Social media can be a great tool to connect with others, but increasingly I’m reminded of the harm of social media as well. It seems that almost weekly, new reports are coming out stating how depressed we are becoming as a society because of the “fakeness” and perfect lives that are supposedly being lived by others in our circles.
What if we find ourselves depressed about the lives of others that we see on social media?
1. Understand that what you are seeing is not reality.
2. We are not to find our identity or worth on social media. We find our identity and worth in Christ alone. What are you finding your identity in?
3. We may be part of the problem (part 1). Are you content with your life? The Bible tells us that everything that we have is a gift from God. If we aren’t content with the stuff that we have, or the way that we look, then we are telling our Heavenly Father that the gifts that He provides are not good enough and we want more!
4. We may be part of the problem (part 2). Let’s work together to stop pretending that we are something that we are not, ultimately recognizing that we could be hurting others due to our phoniness!