Social Media & the Believer Day 2: The Dark Side of Social Media
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:1-4, ESV)
Now that we’ve established the bright side of social media, it’s time to take a dive into the dark side. I could spend days writing about the negative aspects of social media. We will go into one of the biggest issues facing believers in tomorrow’s devotional, but for today, I have boiled it down to these categories: time, targeting, and tolerance.
If you’re anything like me, you can pretty easily get sucked into wasting hours on end looking at memes, watching videos, or just scrolling through your feed. You may even feel a sense of shame when the weekly phone usage notification pops up on your phone and you realize just how much of your days were devoted to your social media accounts. Guilty. While using social media isn’t bad in and of itself, it can become an issue when it affects our time with the Lord and His people. Social media is highly addictive, and we have to make an active effort to police the time we spend on it. If you struggle with spending too much time on social media, set up screen time limits on both your phone and your social accounts. Ask friends to keep you accountable about how much time you are spending on social media every day/week. It takes effort, but when you make it a habit you can overcome the need to scroll.
You may have been confused by my choice of wording, but allow me to explain. I work in marketing and have firsthand knowledge of the use of social media in business. Not only do your social media platforms have all your information, but they know just how to target you with memes, accounts, products, services—you name it! I can set up an ad on Facebook to target someone who has a friend in a certain age group with a birthday in the next few weeks. Yes, it gets that specific. If you haven’t had the opportunity, watch the Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix. It is eye-opening! These platforms have ways of drawing you in and keeping you scrolling, liking, commenting, and buying without you even noticing. How do you overcome that? Be intentional with your time on social media. As I mentioned before, set limits on how much time you spend on each app. When you find yourself scrolling endlessly, stop, think about whether you have other things that need your time/focus, and get out of the loop.
Social media has made us more vulnerable than ever. False information, inappropriate content, and propaganda are everywhere. This became clearer than ever during the pandemic. I was horrified at the amount of false information, useless comment battles, and disparaging content that so many believers were sharing. I started looking at them with so much judgment that I was getting sucked in to that mindset too. This alone makes social media dangerous, but it doesn’t stop there. You don’t have to go far to be exposed to inappropriate content, whether it is blasphemous jokes or pornography. We can become exposed to more and more worldly content, and because of that, our tolerance levels plummet. Once again, this is where we have to set boundaries for ourselves. We cannot allow ourselves to become desensitized to the world when we are called to stand out from it.
The dark side of social media is vast, which is all the more reason for us to be very intentional about our time spent using it. As we learned yesterday, social media can be used for good, but we have to make a conscious effort to use it that way. My challenge for you today is to do a social media fast—and no, you don’t have to alert everyone to the fact that you’re jumping ship for a while. Do whatever works for you, whether you want to go cold turkey for a week, have a social-media-less day, or block out specific times of the day to be off your phone. Whatever you choose to do, notice how your absence from it affects your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and then find a way to create the balance in your life that best suits you.