Social media and college students, part I

A Christian approach to wanting to be ‘liked.’

Hannah Dilanchyan, Opinions Editor

Ninety-eight. Ninety-nine. One hundred. I finally reached one hundred likes on my latest post. OK, now my next goal is 170. I think my record of likes on a single Instagram post is 160. I cannot compete with college students who maintain over one thousand followers, constantly comparing their posts to themselves and others, with thousands of followers making judgements about their lives. 

Social media tends to soothe a desire to be approved and loved by others. In one of my Bible classes, my apologetics professor Sean McDowell talked about what may be the strongest human desire—the desire to be loved. Longing to be liked by peers can drive college students to spend more and more time on social media. 

Everyone with social media has their own platform of influence, whether reaching a hundred people or a few thousand. As Christians, the way this influence is used matters. College students feel the pressures of this more than ever, as they are bombarded with an abundance of worldviews, time consuming content and religiously discouraging subjects. 

USE YOUR PLATFORM TO SERVE GOD

Jesus left his followers with one primary object in Matthew 28: “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” For college students in the midst of business, ministry can often fall on the wayside. The most powerful way to foster a platform that honors God is by promoting peace and love with those around us. 

Christians can use social media accounts to reach followers and share the gospel with them. Anything from Bible verses to vulnerable Instagram posts about life can be shown through social media, rather than presenting a show-off life. 

Relevant Magazine exhorts believers to check their attitude, manage distractions, watch their image and use discernment. Placing checks on your social media use helps create greater awareness about how free time is used—helping Christians to be more wise with their free time. 

TIME WITH GOD > SCREEN TIME 

Every Sunday morning, my phone sends an alert with how many hours a day I spend on my phone. Some weeks are more than others, but I always feel humbled. 

It is easy to spend more time scrolling through TikToks and scanning Instagram stories than to actively pursue God in prayer and worship. I can pick up my Bible and skim a passage faster than I scroll through Facebook posts.

Prioritizing time with the Lord should be the most important thing for Christians. Time with God should not be rushed, but rather enjoyed and restful. The Gospel Coalition explains how “Christians, even pastors, are tempted to rush their Bible readings as if it was fast food.” Christians must take time for devotions as one would for a three-course meal at Cheesecake Factory rather than an In-N-Out takeout meal.

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED

When consuming content, it is vital to be careful of the claims people make in their posts. Be a critical thinker and determine what message the influencer is trying to share with you—ranging from worldview, politics, the validity of Christianity and even the sanctity of life. 

Ultimately, do not be discouraged when using social media. Christians should use their platforms with purpose and spread the love of God with all those who come into their virtual contact. Set time aside for use of social media and entertainment so that it does not become an idol. Lastly, do not be discouraged by a need for love and affirmation from people or messages from strangers. Rather, rely on the love of the Father and the truth of who he says of those who follow him.

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