Social media offers us all types of benefits. It gives us the ability to connect with friends and their lives. It allows for grandparents to see pictures of their grandchildren the day pictures are taken. It is a place that allows for various conversations for those who live far apart. Through social media churches and other groups can share announcements, information, and even prayer requests. Social media allows for couples to publicly declare their love for one another. Overall, social media offers some valuable things that add to life even if my dad calls it ‘waste-book’.
However, there are some areas of life that social media feeds that are not necessarily good. (A brief acknowledgement from me is that Facebook was created while I was in college. I have been a part of social media in one way or another for all of my adult life. So I write this as a participant not just as a curmudgeon looking in.) We typically see the highlight reels of others and then feel inadequate with our own lives. People are finding value in the number of “likes” they receive versus real relational connection. There is what Alison Cohen calls Facebook Syndrome. Heck, even Cosmo points out that a study done says 1 in 5 women prefer Facebook over sex.
The selfie movement has led to accidents and even deaths (seriously, google it.). It has led to psychiatrist and other mental health professionals adding that selfies can lead to mental disorders as well as massive image issues (I am not citing any particular article, but if you type ‘selfie addiction’ in your web browser you will find plenty of information). The selfie movement has led to even more of an issue with narcissistic, selfish tendencies that many of us probably face.
I am not saying taking one picture of yourself is bad, but if we are not careful social media and really any aspect of our life can become an idol of sorts. I am not saying erase your Facebook page, cancel your twitter account, and get rid of Myspace (although I think most people have). What I am saying is that our identity matters, where we find value matters. If we are looking in the wrong places we will never have the healthy self-image that God created us to have.
We are in the season of Lent right now. Lent is a season of repentance and reflection. It is a season in which we often give something up as a way of recognizing our dependence on God. It is a season in which we acknowledge we were created in the image of the Creator. It is a season in the midst of a chaotic world in which we are to be reminded of God’s intentions for us, for us to be His unique people. People who are reflections of Jesus in the world. A reflection of the one who came to give His life up for all of us. Jesus came as God in flesh and embodied a sacrificial, self-less love. Jesus was the un-selfie.
Maybe this lent season we all need a little less “selfie” and a little more “un-selfie.” Maybe if we sought our identity in Jesus rather than in any other aspect of life we would find true joy. My challenge for each of us is to seek to live lives that are more ‘un-selfie’ and Lent is a good time to start.