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Why Do We Need to “Perform” on Social Media?

Why Do We Need to

I’m not sure we’re fully comprehending the need some people feel to perform well on social media. I was upgraded on a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles the other day and sat next to a 20-something woman who literally spent the entire flight taking selfies. She must have snapped off 150 or more shots of herself. She was next to the window, so she experimented with the shade for lighting, fussed with her hair, checked different heights for the camera. Three and half hours of this.  For many people of all ages, social media pressure is increasing.

I would love to see pastors and Christian leaders address this at the church level. Where do we find our identity? Who are we trying to please?  

Right now, Snapchat appears to be gaining traction, especially among teens. Snapchat passed Instagram in an April Piper Jaffray survey of American teens. According to the semiannual survey, 28 percent of more than 6,530 teens polled said the disappearing photo app was their top social network, edging out Instagram with 27 percent. Just six months earlier, 33 percent of teens ranked Instagram first and 19 percent favored Snapchat.

One interesting note we’ve discovered is that the pressure to attract “likes” on Instagram is so great that teens often delete photos that don’t do well. One survey showed some teens delete about half the photos already posted in their Instagram feeds.

Everyone needs to be appreciated and supported. But when that support comes primarily from “likes” on social media, where is the actual physical connection, the relationship or the real-life community? I love social media, and I have to admit to occasionally feeling frustrated when a post doesn’t perform well. But as we survey social media at Cooke Pictures, we’re becoming more and more distressed at just how much some people look there as their number one source of accomplishment.

How should we as Christians address this?

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Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles (CookeMediaGroup.com) where his team helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively through media. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."