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The Double Edged Sword of Social Media

The Double Edged Sword of Social Media

By Brad Guldemond on January 19, 2015

I have a love-hate relationship with social media.

I love that so many people are on it. Facebook has 1.28 billion monthly active users, Twitter 255 million, and Instagram 200 million. That’s a lot of potential people to connect with, learn from, and influence.

I love that you can keep up with old friends and make new ones. You can share special moments, inspiring articles, quotes, funny photos, and videos that bring laughter and love.  

However, I hate how it can be a distraction or an addiction. I waste more time on social media when I am bored. There are times when I am watching my favorite show on TV and check Facebook at every commercial break - just in case I miss a life changing update posted within the last 5 minutes.

When I look at all the different videos, photos, and news stories that draw my attention on Facebook, so much of it is vanity, and steals time and attention from more significant thoughts and endeavors.

Is it really important that I know all the details of Justin Bieber falling off his skateboard yesterday? Or the details of celebrity X’s twitter fued with celebrity Y? The clever headlines and marketing hooks draw us in, and there goes another 5 minutes of our time.

It would be a shame to get to the end of our lives and see how we spent 15,000 hours watching videos and reading about vain things when we could have written an incredible song, refreshed our souls spending time in nature, created a meaningful memory with our family, noticed that a friend was in need, or heard the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit calling us to draw closer to Jesus.

I love seeing that there are so many great ministries, families, preachers, worship leaders, and artists doing great things in the world - collaborating with talented people, organizing incredible events, and serving God with excellence.

But I hate how easily it feeds our ego. Sometimes when I see my newsfeed filled with all the different stages, crowds, and ministry activities everyone is up to and I think about posting something I’m doing, these words of Jesus come to mind:

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds.

They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. Matthew 6:1-4 (The Message)

If no one else knew about the ministry we did last night would we still rest secure in the knowledge that God knows what we did, gave us the grace to do it, and that He is super proud of us? Or would we feel something is lacking without people noticing what we did and “liking” it.

Social media bugs me at times because it presents a photoshopped version of our lives. (Click to tweet!) We can crop out things that don’t make us look good, and filter the light on the good things to make us look even better.

If we knew about the struggle, sacrifice, and weakness behind some of those ministry glamour shots and "perfect" family experiences there would be more understanding and compassion between people and less insecurity and competition.

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." – Steven Furtick.

I understand I am hammering home one side of the story. I am not suggesting everyone shut their Facebook accounts down, or stop posting about cool things God is doing in our lives and ministries. Sharing our lives and stories through images and words can inspire others and glorify God. (Click to tweet!)

I just think we need to be careful to not be cut by the other edge of the social media sword, and to check in with the motives behind our posts and interactions - maybe intentionally not posting things once in a while to enjoy doing something good in secret. We need to keep the wells of our hearts filled with God so our posts come out the overflow of God’s life in us, rather than an attempt to fill a void with the approval of others.

It’s liberating to know that God sees what we do, knows the sacrifice and struggle we put into following Him, and will reward what is done is secret out in the open (Matthew 6:4).

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Brad Guldemond

Brad Guldemond

Brad Guldemond is a worship leader & singer/songwriter from Toronto, Ontario. You can learn more about him on his website: www.bradguldemond.com.