News & Commentary Social Media

Three More Ways Social Media Is Killing You

"Day after day, and night after night, social media beckons us to scroll endlessly through meaningless chaff, with the promise of excitement and pleasure. Yet, time and time again, we succumb to this deception and are left feeling empty and joyless."

Social media is a powerful weapon. Like all weapons, it can be used for profound good or tremendous evil, depending on how it is used. In my previous piece, I explored three ways social media presents unique dangers for Christians.

In this piece, I explore three more perils we must be aware of, lest we enter this spiritual warfare unarmed and unprepared.

1. Social Media: A Platform for Pride

Pride is the most dangerous sin. It is the sin from which all others flow. It is the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and the very sin which alienates us from our Creator.

The great puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote of pride:

“Pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Pride is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and the last sin that is rooted out. Pride is the worst sin. It is the most secret of all sins.”

If pride is a fire, social media is gasoline. Social media presents endless opportunities to flaunt our achievements, present an airbrushed version of ourselves, and pursue the glory of man.

Whether it’s telling the world about our new job, posting a photo of our lunch, or even promoting our involvement in Christian ministries, we want people to believe our lives are worth living.

Posting on social media quickly becomes addictive. Our emotions become dependent upon the number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ we receive, and so we feed our craving for acceptance. Before we know it, our sense of value has become tethered to our social media status rather than our union with Christ.

In vain, we exchange the wonder of being accepted by the God of the universe for the fleeting praise of mortal men (John 12:43). Yet, there’s only room for one on the throne. Too often social media leaves us thinking we belong there rather than our Maker.

The words of Proverbs 27:2 have never been more applicable:

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

2. Social Media: The Cancer of Comparison

Comparing ourselves is at an all-time high with social media, and it’s eating away at our souls. Whether it’s the constant comparing of our bodies with models or the envying of our neighbour’s lifestyle, social media platforms are essentially crafted to capitalise on this sinful impulse of the human heart.

Here’s the tragedy of comparison: after slaving away trying to attain the unattainable, we are left feeling miserable and worthless. It’s the logical consequence when we exchange God’s affirmation for that of the world.

When we enter this cycle of discontentment, we reject the God who loved us and knit us together in our mother’s womb. Inevitably, we are enslaved in a cycle of fear and insecurity, only to be subsequently driven to anxiety and depression.

Just consider Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok. Users are persistently barraged with sexualised, airbrushed, and photoshopped models. For men, this is the gateway to pornography use. For women, this leads to profound feelings of inadequacy, sensual dressing, and subsequently, eating disorders and depression.

An article by the Wall Street Journal published in late 2021 explored internal research conducted by Facebook. The research explored the myriad ways in which Instagram is toxic for teen girls, particularly concerning body image and feelings of self-worth.

However, it’s not just our bodies we compare. It’s our clothing, our lifestyles, our holidays, and our followers. Once enslaved to the master of envy, we’re never satisfied with what we’ve got.

All the while, God is beckoning that we listen to who He says we are (Jeremiah 31:3). In this hedonistic, self-loving world, God is calling us to find our worth in our identity as His precious bride (Revelation 21:2).

3. Social Media: The Thief of Joy

One of the more insidious faces of social media is its ability to subtly rob us of joy. Rather than going to the source of joy (God), we are beguiled by social media’s promise to comfort and entertain us in our despair. Thus, we exchange the invaluable treasure of knowing and enjoying Christ for a counterfeit substitute that never satisfies.

Day after day, and night after night, social media beckons us to scroll endlessly through meaningless chaff, with the promise of excitement and pleasure. Yet, time and time again, we succumb to this deception and are left feeling empty and joyless.

Part of our problem is that we are addicted to entertainment. We enjoy being distracted, and so we seek out distractions. We find refuge from the trials and tribulations of life with memes and meaningless videos. While we’re being inebriated by entertainment, we pretend like the problems of the world don’t exist, if only for a moment.

 On this topic, the late evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said:

“Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy. The more joy you have in the Lord, the less entertainment you need.”

While it may be true that not all entertainment is of the devil, Ravenhill is certainly onto something. In our social media age, non-stop entertainment is likely our greatest impediment to Biblical joy (Philippians 4:4).

For Christians, true joy has been secured for us by Christ in His death and resurrection (1 Peter 1:8). It’s a joy that is grounded in the gospel, shows itself in community, and displays itself in loving sacrifice. Only when we recognise this true joy will we be able to resist the pseudo-joy offered to us by social media.

The Bottom Line

Given that laxness is the default setting of the human heart, it requires great intentionality, thoughtfulness, and prayer to use social media for God’s glory. And so, whether you choose to retreat from, or remain on, social media, neutrality is not an option. Whether we like it or not, using social media is spiritual warfare, and like all battles, we must come prepared.

As believers, we would do well to be reminded of Paul’s exhortation to the church in Ephesus:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11)