There are significant advantages, but if we are not careful, the pitfalls of social media can rapidly outweigh its benefits. Since it is our goal as Christians to follow the Bible, let me provide ten verses and then a genuine concern regarding social media as it pertains to each verse. You may still desire to keep your Facebook and Twitter account (and that’s wonderful!), but please consider these thoughts as you move forward.
1. Colossians 2:7 calls us to be “overflowing with gratitude.”
Social media can give us the impression that other people are perfect. Let’s remember people (including yourself!) often only post their best pictures and favorite comments. If we are not careful, this incomplete picture we receive from others can lead us to apathy (“Why doesn’t my family have so much fun?”) or discontentment (“Why don’t my kids win those awards?”) or ungratefulness (“Why don’t I get a nice vacation in the Caribbean?”).
2. Matthew 12:36, Jesus said that “every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”
Social media can be a fertile tool for careless and unrestrained words. That’s also why it’s a haven to both spread and receive gossip.
3. 1 Peter 1:22 calls us to “fervently love one another from the heart.”
Social media encourages less face-to-face interactions. Eventually we begin to know others only from behind a computer screen. We may appear to have hundreds of friends, but all these superficial relationships don’t equate to any true friendships. Instead of building into real relationships, we spend hours with pseudo-friends online exchanging only sound bites.
4. Colossians 1:10, “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects.”
Social media encourages living a fantasy life. It’s easy to pretend on Facebook and Twitter that you are actually more interesting than you really are. It’s easy to get immersed in a phony persona whereby the screen now becomes your stage.
5. Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”
Social media enables the “tough guy syndrome.” I’ve dealt with these folks. Big, brave and bold when behind the screen, but timid and often cowardly to meet in person. The days of blessed reconciliation and honest dialog through face-to-face interactions are sadly decreasing at a rapid pace.
6. 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Social media pushes us to get caught up in the trivial. Have you ever noticed the stories that are “trending” on Facebook? It’s the important stuff like celebrity gossip and the latest Hollywood releases. Even when reviewing what others post, commonly we brush over the items that require thought and get caught up in what people ate for breakfast and what they are currently watching on television! Deep thought over the important matters is vanishing and consumption with the trial is skyrocketing. Everything in social media is about reductionism and brevity and it spills into other facets of our lives (like our Bible Study and theology).
7. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “[love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Social media fosters the “absent-but present” syndrome.” Everybody is in close proximity, but everybody is glued not to each other, but to their media accounts.
8. Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Social media can be a waste of time. Ever notice how fast an hour can fly by when you are on Facebook? Was anything really profitable accomplished? Are we losing out on the practices of a disciplined life?
9. Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
Social media easily breeds narcissism. What is You-Tube’s motto? “Broadcast Yourself.” If you are not very careful, social media can lead to self-centeredness and self-promotion. Some people post a lot, but their message is always the same, “Me, Me, Me” – my specialness, my greatness and my quest to garner the praises of the masses. I believe all those who have been pumped the lie about self-esteem have now finally found their outlet!
10. John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
And lastly, social media can be addictive. Checking your account too often or at inappropriate hours of the day (first thing, last thing, middle of the night, during church)? Talking to people online more than you do face-to-face? Allowing social media to interfere with and trump your other priorities (time with God, time with others, job production, responsibilities at home).
If you feel these pitfalls are not affecting you and you can use social media without violating the verses I selected, may the Lord bless you in your endeavors! I just encourage you to think and process social media like a Christian no longer conformed to the world, but with a transformed mind that exercises biblical discernment and seeks to honor Jesus Christ!