Staff Editorial: Reclaiming our identity from social media

The Chimes staff comments on our cultural obsession with social media.

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Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

Chimes Staff, Writer

Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube. These social media behemoths are what we use to make our mark upon the world. If you do not have at least two of these accounts, you may as well have your birth certificate and social security number revoked. Functionally, you do not exist.

This is the message being sent by our culture’s obsession with being seen, heard and known. To live without documenting every second of life is, in the eyes of our society, to devalue it. This thinking encourages us to place our identity in the images of ourselves we post online and how others respond to them, rather than in the image of God.

Social media’s inflicted identity crisis

Wanting to be popular on social media partially comes from living in a status-driven culture that bases our sense of value and self on what we do. However, this kind of thinking becomes problematic and unhealthy, especially for Christians. Our worth lies in our identity as God’s children, as beings God loves unconditionally. God does not need us, but he desires us.

It is hard for the American Christian to be rooted in the security and comfort of their biblical identity when advertising imbues us with the message that we are utterly lacking if we are not the best-dressed, most-”liked” or most-followed. The fallacy of basing our self-worth on social media or anything other than Jesus can be easily illustrated. If you posted on Facebook that you just got your dream job and no one liked it, would that lack of digital affirmation mean landing the job was not important? Would it mean you are not important? Of course not! If we want to be reminded that we are loved and chosen, all we need to do is look at the Bible.

Social media isn’t all bad

To be fair, having a digital presence is not all bad. While our identity should never be based on the number of friends or followers we have, those numbers could be an indication of the quality of our work. If we believe we are created in the image of God, we should create quality content reflecting that image. Despite the black hole of Buzzfeed articles that indicate otherwise, there are people looking for quality content online. The digital age has created a large platform to share and spread information globally. This canvas has huge implications for evangelism and missions. Since we live in a visual society, videos can easily be shared through social media quickly and on a mass scale. Remember KONY2012? But as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben put it, with this power and technology there also comes great responsibility. As Christians, we are not only responsible for the messages we are sharing, but also for the God we are representing. Our number of friends, followers or subscribers will never earn our place in heaven. But, if one person can be impacted by your latest blog post — even in a small way — then there is a place for it.

Know your limits

Social media and our interaction with it is a tightrope that must be tread lightly and with much wisdom. Is the advancement of distance communication brought about by technology and social media a bad thing? Of course not. It is hard to argue against the positive outcomes technology has in our world. However, we must realize the implications of a digitally dependent culture. Not only that, but from the Christian worldview, we are called to be set apart while still recognizing the culture we live in. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be able to see the world from a different perspective.

So go ahead. Tweet about your three-hour Monday night class. Add a filter to that picture you took of the Caf pizza. Toss that video online of you and your floormates playing football on your hall when the RA is out.

Carry on, you Tweeters, Viners, Facebookers and Instagrammers. Just know your limits, recognize that your value is not based in your social media activity but in your status as God’s beloved, and take time to look up from the screen now and then. 

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