Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders The False Reality of Social Media

The False Reality of Social Media

We live in a world of false realities. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all offer an alternate view of who we are as individuals. We can tweet spiritual tweets and show off our immaculate houses or perfectly cooked food on Instagram. We can either judge or feel judged as we scan our Facebook timelines, and Pinterest shows us how far we fall from perfection.

Even posting “real photos” like a messy room or a not so flattering selfie are a far cry from showing the multifaceted and emotional life of a human being. We’ll never give a true taste of our imperfections from a bad hair day or unfolded laundry.

The “reality” photos and statuses published are just as much a mask as the perfect happy posts we broadcast. Neither show our cyber friends who we really are. We are safe from vulnerability and risk of failure, and have complete control of the image we portray of ourselves.

A Humble Balance

In reality, people experience us and feel affected by us, and their experiences of us might be vastly different from what we would like to convey about ourselves. The people around us are like mirrors bouncing back the real image of ourselves to us.

What would our spouse say about us if he or she were off the iPhone? How would our children say we treat them if their mouths could talk in our Instagram photos? What would the telemarketer and saleslady Tweet about us? Would our flesh and blood neighbors say we are as good as social media says we are? Whether on social media or in real life, we tend to seesaw back and forth between false realities of ourselves. We either put on the mask of thinking too much or too little of ourselves. And in turn we portray this image to others.

On the low end of the seesaw we view ourselves as constant failures, we condemn ourselves, feel depressed about our lives and are ashamed of who we are. The high end of the seesaw is boastful arrogance, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency and selfish ambition. Trying to correct one side with the other side is self-defeating, because both sides are rooted in pride and self-focus.

Humility comes in embracing the reality of the middle ground. Only when we embrace the true reality of ourselves in Christ will we achieve a humble balance. Humility is best described as a balancing of reality. Let’s stop the extreme high and low of the seesaw and meet Christ in the middle.

The Grace of God in You

Before social media, the apostle Paul was well acquainted with the humble reality of himself. He found his middle ground in the grace of God through Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:9–10 Paul says,

“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Paul didn’t think less of himself for his past failures nor did he condemn himself for being a horrible person and then get depressed. But he didn’t self-correct himself by going to the other end of the seesaw by thinking too highly of himself. Instead, Paul saw his entire life through the lens of grace.

It was grace that stopped his persecuting and it was grace that made him an apostle. Grace working through him made him work hard and grace made him who he was. He could accept who he was—strengths and weaknesses, past, present and future—through the reality of God’s grace through Christ. He could only accept his true self once he humbly embraced the grace of God.

Christ purchased this grace for us at the cross where the ugly reality of ourselves met with the beautiful reality of Jesus. He took away the penalty of our ugly reality and transposed the grace of his beautiful reality onto us. Who we are in Christ is now our ultimate reality. We can say with Paul, “I am what I am through the grace of God.” Now that’s something to tweet about.