“God cannot bear with seeing his glory appropriated by the creature in even the smallest degree, so intolerable to him is the sacrilegious arrogance of those who, by praising themselves, obscure his glory as far as they can.”1 –John Calvin
I can only imagine what Calvin would say about social media today! Even as I publish this blog, the leading experts in “online platform building” (yep, that’s a thing) recommend that I share a link to this blog post in three different ways through Twitter within just 24 hours of posting it. To be fair, I probably will. I believe in the things I write, and I hope my blogs can be beneficial to as many other people as possible. But it doesn’t take very many tweets or Facebook statuses to realize that “self-promotion” walks a fine line tempting my pride.
Maybe you don’t blog. Maybe you use social media for its originally stated purpose: being social. Yet, if you’re like me, you’ve still caught yourself checking on your profile throughout the day to see how many “likes,” “shares,” “favorites,” and “retweets” you’re getting. Is this a problem?
Getting to the Root
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way from the start: social media is not inherently evil. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the 10 new social media sites that have launched as I write this sentence are not the problem. We are. Social media may be a new medium, but it sheds light on the same old struggles. Whether it’s pride, gossip, anger, or a lack of self-control (just to name a few), social media can be sinful simply because we are sinful.
In regards to our pride, then, what’s most important is where the foundation for our interactions on social media comes from. I might genuinely desire to share silly and random details of my life through quirky tweets, statuses, and pictures, wanting to connect with others that I might not be able to regularly live with in physical community. Or I might just want you to think I have an incredibly interesting life and am much wittier than you. It all comes down to where my heart is and what my intentions are.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Maybe the best question we can ask ourselves as we guard against pride and the other issues that can creep up so easily with social media is simply, “Why?” With each tweet, Facebook status, or picture, take a moment to reflect on why you’re sharing what you’re sharing. There doesn’t have to be a deep purpose, but there always is some purpose. James 1:19 talks about how everyone should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to anger.” I think the same principles could be applied to how we engage on social media as well.
To wrap things up, here’s a list of ways you can “check yourself before your wreck yourself” with pride in social media:
- If looking on social media multiple times a day just to see if you have any new “likes,” “shares,” “favorites,” “retweets,” and “followers” is a consistent habit for you, you should check yourself.
- If you have to pause to consider whether or not a post is prideful and decide to post it anyway, you should check yourself.
- If you’re okay with “bending the truth” a little to produce an overall more enticing post, you should check yourself.
- If you care more about your “follower” to “following” ratio then actually connecting with people, then you should check yourself.
- If the majority of what you post is all about you, then you should check yourself.
In case you were wondering, all of these come from personal experience and struggle. Pride is a subtle but powerful trap that we can fight against in social media through defining our purpose, checking our motives, and doing everything for the glory of God.
1C.J. Mahaney. Humility: True Greatness (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2005), 33.