Social media is a great tool for connecting people, but it can often be a negative experience for many of us. We asked Adrienne and Fern from the band Daughters of Davis to share their thoughts about social media and how we can use it in ways that honour God.
What do you think the challenges are of being on social media?
Fern: Both Adrienne and I met our husbands online, which makes me very grateful for the internet, but in all other ways, I’d quite like to live back in a time when there wasn’t so much pressure from social media and emails demanding you answer them yesterday! I’d love to go back to the time when we would wait on post – you’d write a letter and it would take days for the reply to come, so there wasn’t all this urgency that fills up your life with so much busyness.
Adrienne: If I’m really honest, I rarely come away from using social media feeling better than I did before I went on. I often find there’s always someone who happens to look better than you or is having more fun than you. It’s hard not to come across a barrage of advertising and posts by friends who seem to look perfect or look like they have the perfect life. As a Christian, you want nothing more than for everyone around you to be doing amazing. However, it’s easy to start making comparisons and questioning if you stack up.
So how can we deal with feelings of jealousy or comparison when they rise up?
Adrienne: Social media can be so great for connecting us to our friends and keeping up-to-date with what’s going on, but I think it can also bring some insidious challenges to how we feel about ourselves. It’s important to remember that you only really see the highlight reel of peoples’ lives on social media. People don’t tend to promote the mundane parts of their lives, only the exciting and interesting parts. And photos of models are often extremely enhanced and filtered, so they really need to be viewed as a created media rather than a snapshot of true reality. Have you ever wondered if it hurts God when we look at another and wish we looked more like them or had what they had? God created a variety of shapes and sizes, personalities and quirks...and all differences should be celebrated. Somehow our view of what’s good has been condensed down to a very narrow view that only fits the media mould. But God looked at creation and said it was all good!
If we’re serious about following the Bible, I think we also need to be serious about not letting feelings of jealousy and envy rise up in us as we go online. Envy can damage your self-esteem and really affect how you live your life. I find this such a personal challenge. Having grown up experiencing a lot of bullying, it doesn’t take me long to resort back to feeling I am not of much worth, and all the ‘amazingness’ of everyone’s lives online can easily compound that. But I’m learning to realise that I’m in control of how I think and what I allow into my thoughts and heart. I love Proverbs 4:23: ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’ (NIV). I think that guarding your heart is an essential part of the Christian walk. It’s about learning to filter and keep check of the thoughts that can affect your emotional health. You have the power to change your thoughts and say no to those negative feelings that leave you feeling less.
Fern: Try not to believe everything you see, and know that God sees you with the most immense amount of value, regardless of what others may think or say. I know it’s not easy though, I struggle with this too, but that is why it’s important to draw attention to it and work on learning to try and see yourself as God does. It may be difficult, but it’s the greatest journey you could ever go on. Learning to live in His love really does set you free to be the person God intended you to be.
How do you think we can use social media in positive, godly ways?
Adrienne: One tip would be to pray in the morning or before you go on social media, asking God to give you a revelation of His love for you. Then ask Him to help you be able to celebrate and be joyful for others, rather than feeling in competition or not as good. Another great technique is to try using the greyscale setting on your phone – it turns everything black and white, which makes everything look more boring, so it’s less likely you’ll feel like you’re missing out.
Fern: I’m grateful that I could find a Christian man who was upfront about his faith and about wanting to find a wife. My husband is Irish, and I may have never crossed paths with someone living in a small town in Northern Ireland, but the internet really can open up connections that may not have formed without it. We really can use the internet and social media to our advantage. It can unite us Christians and help us to draw together as a community to make this planet better. I think that’s the internet and social media at its best.
Check out Fern and Adrienne’s podcast, Not Playing The Game, where they encourage us to live counter-culturally in a world that often makes us feel inadequate for not meeting certain ideals. Find it on UCB Player or your podcast app.