Do you know who the most followed person on Instagram is?
She currently has over 121 million followers and counting! Her name is Selena Gomez. And do you think that the amount of followers one has on social media can bring fulfillment and happiness? In a recent 2017 Vogue Article, Gomez was quoted as saying: “As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out...It had become so consuming to me. It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn’t want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn’t want to care about…” Being that we are a part of the millennial social media generation, and considering the impact of social media on our culture, we explored positives and negatives of social media and our roles as Christians in our most recent episode of THe Elena & Natalia Show.
SOCIAL MEDIA BEGINNINGS
We were only in junior high when Myspace was first founded. Still learning how to type efficiently via computer classes, navigating through Microsoft Word, excitedly clicking the send button through our personalized emails, and not even owning our first computers yet, Myspace was a whole new world and language that we just heard talked about amongst our peers, but that we didn’t even dare to venture on our own.
Facebook had launched when we just started high school, and we escaped, at least for those high school years, the need to submit friend requests, add friends, post photos, status updates, and be immersed in this fresh virtual world that was so influencing our generation.
We decided to join Facebook when we started college several years later, and immediately decided that we, as twins, were not going to have separate accounts, but to share a joint account. Some of our friends expressed that we should separate and distinguish ourselves as individuals, but we immediately felt that we should have a shared account, because we didn’t want to expose ourselves to the constant comparison of which twin has more friends, who is more popular, who has the more exciting life, etc. Additionally, we do have a ministry together where we share the same heart and vision, so having a shared account would be the most beneficial (find us @ElenaNataliaTV). And plus, we do express our individuality not only over social media, but in real life as well. We are unique individuals before we are social media users.
We decided, over the years, to also join Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. So, you can say we are definitely active on social media. As we all know, social media may breed a lot of negative effects, but it also births many beautiful positive opportunities. Let’s explore!
POSITIVE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
MINISTRY & EVANGELIZATION OPPORTUNITy | You have to power to change a life. Be an example. Show the world Jesus. Platform to share peace, justice. Unite with like-minded people with a heart for the same cause and mission. Serve as an online missionary. Shape the culture. Ignite change. Be purposeful with a plan. We use our social media platforms as a way to share the love of Jesus through posting status updates, blogs, and episodes of The Elena and Natalia Show. You never know who’s watching, who’s scrolling, and who’s life you are impacting. Jesus did not say we will be known by the number of our Instagram followers or how many virtual friends we have, but how we love one another – they will know you by your love, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). So we have the greatest platform and stage to show people who Jesus is.
STORYTELLER GENERATION | What if we’re not the social media generation, but the storyteller generation? Share your voice, your unique story and it can resonate with a lot of people. That's your platform. We’re all social beings, longing to share our story, we all just want to be heard and to share our stories. We have an insatiable desire to share, to connect, to know and to be known. We are not a social media generation, we are a generation full of stories who are desperate to share our own stories and to have our stories be heard and told and that’s why social media is so popular.
MAKE NEW FRIENDSHIPS & CONNECT WITH PEOPLE | Social media is a great way to connect with friends and to make new friends. It gives us the opportunity to keep in touch with family living in different parts of the world, and to share memories and make new ones too. Take full advantage of the meaningful connections you have the ability to form online, but though it may start there, don't let it stop there.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES | If you allow social media to control you, it breeds: comparison, jealousy, inadequacy, narcissism, loneliness, low self-worth. It is easy to start comparing your life with your friends, and to start feeling inadequate or unworthy if you see all of your friends getting accepted into top colleges, getting married, having babies, and yet you haven’t had those desires of your heart fulfilled yet.
Dear Social Media Producer, take a step back and ask yourself why you're sharing, why you're really posting. Is it to edify and encourage and uplift? Or is it to show-off, discourage, or distract? Be sensitive in your excitement, but also check your heart motives before clicking share. Remember those days when you were single and had no children and would see those posts that would make your heart break a little. Don’t feel entitled if you have that privilege and don’t be in misery if you don’t. Post with grace, compassion, and sensitivity.
Dear Social Media Consumer, you are not inadequate. You are not less than. You are not unloved. Your life is a beautiful work of art being shaped by a beautiful God who wants to surprise you in many beautiful ways. Your time will come too. The greatest irony of social media is that we are so exposed, yet so isolated all at the same time. You are not alone. It’s ok to crave community, even through social media, but please know that your self worth is founded in Jesus Christ, and not from the Internet or what people say about you.
BULLYINg | Social media, if not used wisely, opens the door to bullying. We all want to get those likes, get those numbers up, but all we're really looking for is love, acceptance, someone to acknowledge us. That what we we're saying, writing, posting, sharing, our stories, our hearts, really do matter to someone. That somebody cares. But the truth is that SOMEONE does care. He cares so much that he came to establish the law of love through relationship. Jesus cares for the overlooked, the abandoned, the lonely. He cares for both the person behind the screen doing the bullying and the person receiving their hate. As Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
FALSE ILLUSION OF REALITY | As much as we would like to, we really can't put a filter over life. You can't snap, or crop, or edit those moments out. It comes not only with the good bits, but the bad parts too, the vulnerable and the exposed. Emojis serve as some sort of virtual emotion, but it stays at just that – virtual. Don't trade in the real emotions in real life for the faux emotions in virtual life. Instead of fake heart eyes, step outside and find someone you can see through eyes full of love, the homeless man on the sidewalk in need of eye contact and a word of encouragement. Instead of the crying face emoji, call up a friend and actually exchange that heartfelt, belly laughter our souls are truly aching for. It's connection.
Think before you post. Think before you pick up your phone to scroll through your apps at the dinner table. Connect with people in real life, don't allow your cyber relationships to outweigh your real life friendships. We were meant to connect, not only virtually but in realtime, face-to-face. At the end of the day, people only log on to log off of their hurts and to escape the pain. Instead, put on the ultimate filter, God’s promises found in His Word, over your life. Apply those Truths on all of your day-to-day interactions, both online and in-person, and it will transform the way you show love and receive love.
ADDICTION | If you feel like you may be addicted to social media, if it's become an idol, a distraction, consumed your time or replaced your time with God, then it might be time to fast from it. In other words, take a good break and say good bye for awhile or forever, depending on what the Holy Spirit leads. Control the technology, don’t let it control you. Control your emotions, your reactions, your moods, your thoughts. If you notice envy, jealousy, discontent, irritation, comparison creeping in, maybe it’s time to take a break from it all and reassess your intentions. If you feel like you're already addicted, the first step is to admit to it then confront it before it grows into an even bigger issue of total dependence. Remember if it replaces your time with God, it's become an idol and that's very dangerous. Preaching to myself. First thing I would do is delete my app from the phone, and set aside a period of time to not log back in until you feel like the addiction to it has broken. It normally takes 21 days to break a habit, but I would suggest even longer. Instead of counting down the days to when you can log back in, start taking notice of the things you are able to do by not staring down at your phone every 10 seconds. Recalibrate and decide to fast if you feel numb, dull, and dead inside. Awaken the life around you and not just what’s in front of the computer screens. Get off of Facebook and get your face in the Book!
MAKE JESUS FAMOUS?
You’ve probably heard the well-intended phrase, “Let's make Jesus famous,” mentioned among pastors, evangelists, celebrities, and friends. After thinking about this statement, we feel that our call, as Christians, is NOT to “make Jesus famous,” because He already is! It says in Mark 1:28 that Jesus’ “...fame spread everywhere…” We need to, as a generation, make the name of Jesus loved, honored, revered, and respected! In a world where people can become Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram famous, let’s not put Jesus in that social media box, but expand His reach to the unreached and start making his name honored across all nations.
Social media is a great way to do that in the way you share Jesus, write your blog posts, share your Instagram videos, and the captions you write. Deuteronomy 9:12 says, "What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." As a Christian, what is your witness on social media? Is it leading people to Jesus or away from Jesus? Do you tweet, post, act like a Christ-follower or do you blend in with the norm of the world?
Ladies and gentlemen, social media is a reflection of who you are. If you claim to be a Christian, you have a responsibility to be a witness and to share Jesus with the watching world. Please don’t post provocative images, like ungodly pictures, follow the wrong people, or use curse words. Please don’t make the name of Jesus infamous by your witness on social media. The world is watching, and, most importantly, God is watching!
Before you post, make sure you think and even pray about it. Are your posts truthful and loving? Are you sharing Jesus or showing off? Are you more interested in sharing how much you love the man you just got engaged to or showing off your sparkly engagement ring? Are you more interested in sharing how healthy eating is really changing your life or showing off how great your glutes look in your leggings?
Let's work on building not our platforms, but the Kingdom of God. Not on getting more followers but leading people to follow Jesus. Not so focused on our likes, but who's loving Jesus. Not so focused on sharing Bible verses and tweets – which is good – but more focused on practicing what we preach – which is even better! The Golden Rule of Twitter could very well be: Tweet people the way you would like to be tweeted! Be a good representative of Jesus Christ by loving others through what you post, tweet, or who follow.
It is time that we be less focused on who’s following us or not on social media and more focused on who’s following Jesus in real life! Please know that you don’t need to get approval from social media. The amount of likes, friends, hearts, or comments you have do not define you. God has already approved your friend request and simply wants you to follow Him back. Do you follow Jesus, not only on social media, but in real life?
Jesus, You know us all, You see our hearts, our innermost thoughts, our pains, our tears, our brokenness. You know exactly what makes us laugh and what makes us cry. You see us through our best days and hold us in our worst days. I want to specifically lift up anyone right now who feels like they are never enough, or can never measure up, God You see them as more than enough and so valuable that You would leave your Kingdom to become one of us and to love us back to life. You carry our hearts and let us know that it will always safely be held in your arms. We pray for Selena Gomez, the most followed young woman on Instagram. She's your daughter and wholly loved and known by You. Release her from the pressure of feeling like she needs to perform. Heal her hurts, heal her heart and may she know that even if she would get a billion followers that love would never transcend the scope of Your love for her. May she use her platform to lead and point others right back to You. In Jesus' name, Amen!