“All the world’s a stage; and all the men and women merely players.”
Social media is a stage—one where we act out the identities we wish people around us to see.
I am no hater of social media. In fact, I spend a lot of time surfing the newsfeed of my Facebook. It is a marvel to be able to simply scroll across a palm-sized device and almost instantaneously get in touch with the lives of your friends: which cafes they’ve visited, what they’ve eaten for dinner, who’s been getting on their nerves, etc. It is amazing how one can reconnect with that bully from your childhood, or be updated on the latest happenings in the life of that kid from primary school with just a few simple clicks and swipes. You can literally view the entire lives of your friends on Facebook—or at least what they want you to see.
Performing Social Media
The recent ALS challenges I’ve seen attempted on my social media feed have led to discussions between a few of my close friends and I regarding the purpose of social media posts, ultimately leading us to conclude that some of the attempts we’ve seen were mostly about the challengers themselves—and how good they look while thoroughly soaked—rather than the cause they purportedly supported. After all, who doesn’t like being followed and “liked” by hundreds?
Social media offers the platform for such performances. The various pictures of sunsets, selfies in cafes, or random intelligent quotes with non-sequitur pictures—I am guilty of them all—could simply be public appeals for recognition and acceptance.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 ESV).
A people pleaser is someone who does everything they can to make those around them accept them, and who habitually gives in to others in fear of upsetting them.
The thing is, when we seek popularity, attention or recognition, whether at school or at work, we run the risk of becoming people pleasers. This holds true whenever we post something online with the intention of getting “likes” or drawing comments from viewers.
Are we pandering to others when we post something on social media? Are we seeking to burnish our own virtual identity, and stoke our own egos, with every “like” received? Do we seek that virtual pat on the back, that positive affirmation, or that ego buzz whenever we get the applause of a hundred likes or re-tweets? This hunger reflects a rebellious desire to seek significance and security in things other than in the One who truly matters, online or offline.
Our Audience of One
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not against anyone sharing a brilliant video of something that touched them, some good cafes to visit, or even that cute cat you just had to take a selfie with.
That’s not the point. The point is the need for self-reflection in our lives. At the end of the day, the important thing is to question the motives of our actions, even on public platforms like social media. Are we ultimately out to please man, or are we out to please God?
Well, the good news for us self-pleasers is, we technically have only one person to disappoint in order to focus our attention on Him.
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