I decided it was time for a break. It seemed as if my entire life had come to revolve around this digital, hand-held device. But it wasn’t the phone itself that was appealing to me. No, it was what it offered. It offered the allure of high praise, the possibility of connection, and my personal drug of choice: validation.
It presented me an opportunity to write a narrative about myself to friends, family, and strangers alike through the medium of carefully edited photos and well put together captions. I could be who I wanted to be. I could convince those peering into my profile that I was living a life of adventure, wanderlust, and whimsy (for those wondering what ‘whimsy’ means, it comes from the Bob Goff book of life). I could convince people that I had a lot of friends and was really popular. I could trick people into thinking I was on cloud nine, constantly walking through fields of daisies, without a care or worry in the world.
But while I could possibly trick others, I could not trick myself. While my profile exhibited an exciting and abundant life, my real life felt far from it. I painted a picture of my outward life that did not represent my inward life.
To put it simply, I was a fraud.
Truthfully, my life was fairly mundane. Most of my days consisted of me doing homework, working a desk job, wasting time on YouTube, reading a book, or hanging with some friends.
Furthermore, what social media didn’t capture was the days I felt lonely. It didn’t capture the moments where I hurt people and felt hurt by others. It didn’t capture the extremely embarrassing moments I’ve had. It didn’t capture my immature qualities and insecurities.
It didn’t capture my raw, unedited humanity.
Which is partly why I began to worship the platform of social media. For a couple hours a day, I could lose myself in a narrative in which I could be a different character. A character which was admired, affirmed, and “liked”. As a result, I became addicted to the dopamine hit I would get from every like and follow.
So I did the only thing I knew to do: I deleted my social media accounts and got as far away from it as possible.
I decided to detox my life and remove myself for as long as I needed so that I could come back down to planet Earth and do some work on my soul. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In my absence, I spent a lot of time in reflection and prayer trying to figure out how and why social media affected my life in such a negative way. Subsequently, I learned many valuable lessons, of which I may or may not write about in future posts, but there is one lesson that was more valuable than all the rest. There may be a different and more vital lesson for others to learn individually, but here was my big lesson to learn:
Real connection, real joy, and real life are neither manufactured nor measured by likes, retweets, or follows. Real connection, real joy, and real life come only as a result of being defined daily by love. A love which must be defined by the life and love of Jesus.
This is it for me. I don’t care how novel, clichè, or simple it may sound. The remedy for my need for validation, my incessant coveting, my envious desires, and my constant comparisons is none other than the life-changing, soul-shaping, deep, and abundant love of Jesus!
When I allow myself to be defined by His love, I stop worrying about what people think. I stop comparing myself to others and start accepting myself. I stop envying and coveting other people’s lives and start being more grateful for my own. I stop judging other people based off their profiles and start seeing them through the loving eyes of Christ. I stop painting a false narrative of myself as the main character and start seeing Jesus as the real hero of the story.
Because the love of Jesus defines who I am, I stop living for a like and I start living to love.
Because the love of Jesus defines who I am, I stop thinking about how I can make myself look better and start focusing on making known the riches of God’s glory and beauty.
Because the love of Jesus defines who I am, I stop looking for happiness and connection through a virtual world and start looking for it in the life that Jesus offers.
I hope you know how much Jesus loves you; that He gave up his life for you so that you may be forgiven and redeemed and made new; that His love for you doesn’t waver according to how “bad” you are, but that His love is unconditional and never-ending.
The real problem was never with social media, but with my sinful, idolatrous heart. I began to let a social media profile define who I was instead of letting the love of Christ define me. Accordingly, I’ve come to realize the more I receive Christ’s love, the more I love Christ, and the more I love Christ, the more I love others, and the more I love others, the less I worship myself.
Once I understood that, I was able to enter back into the social media world with a redeemed perspective and a fresh lens.
If you came here looking for more practical tips for social media, there’s a lot of articles out there that can help you more than this. But if you find yourself lost and feeling like a fraud, then I hope my story helps you see how extravagant the love of Jesus is and the implications it has for each of our individual worlds. Even our virtual ones.
If you want to keep up with my blog and join me on this journey of diving deeper into the love of Christ, then feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on social media.