5 Pitfalls of Social Media

Guest post from Jessica Barefield

Let me start by giving a disclaimer. This article is not about how evil social media is. Used in moderation, with the right heart posture, it can be a wonderful thing. The point of this article is to point out some ways that social media can be a pitfall for the Christian life and to encourage you to examine your heart when it comes to your social media consumption and participation. These are five ways that social media can feed our sinful desires.

1. Social media can waste your time

This is nothing we haven’t heard before, but it’s worth repeating. We are reminded in Ephesians 5:16-17 that the days are evil and we should make the best use of the time given to us. Consider for a moment what you could be doing instead of checking all those sites. While waiting at an appointment, we could keep a list of people to pray for on our phone and spend those extra minutes in prayer for our family and friends. Certainly, at one time or another, we are all guilty of spending hours on Facebook in a day and never opening up the Word of God. Since every moment is a gift from the Lord, it’s worth asking yourself, “Is there something more worthwhile that I could be spending my time on?” Most of the time, the answer is probably yes.

2. Social media gives a platform to your every thought

I think the solidarity of posting on social media can trick you into thinking it’s OK to post just about anything. We complain, we anonymously bash people, we disrespect people in authority, and we say whatever we think about celebrities, as if they weren’t real people. And we believe we don’t really have to answer for any of it. Don’t be fooled by the privacy of your room right now—there will be nothing private when we stand before the living God and give an account for our words. Matthew warns us pretty plainly, “On the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Let us be reminded of this warning the next time we update our status.

3. Social media can fuel discontentment

When we spend extended time pouring over what others are doing and saying, it draws our attention to all the things we don’t have or are missing out on. It can cause us to question why our lives don’t look the same. Why didn’t I think of that quote? I wish I had her sense of style. Their new house is way bigger than ours! If we aren’t careful, thirty minutes on Facebook or Pinterest can leave you feeling unproductive, unattractive, and underwhelmed with your own life. Hebrews exhorts us, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” We can ultimately be content with our lives as believers because we are given all that we need in Christ. Ask yourself whether your use of social media is helping you believe this truth.

4. Social media can fuel pride and keep you inwardly focused 

Social media can quickly become our own podium for self-promotion. We have to ask ourselves what our motivation really is for posting the things that we do. Are we looking for sympathy or praise? Do we want to be well thought of or brag about the fun things we’ve been doing? Do you constantly check how many “likes” or “retweets” your post got? All of these things fuel pride and keep us focused on ourselves. This can be a particularly hard pitfall for anyone who has a platform that extends beyond their friends and family. Whether you do music or have a popular blog, just because thousands of people are listening doesn’t mean everything that comes to mind is worth saying. We must remember that retweets, comments, and likes don’t automatically give legitimacy to what we post. God sees the motivation of our hearts and is never fooled by a well-crafted post. As I Samuel 2:3 cautions, “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows and by Him deeds are weighed.”

5. Social media can distort our view of relationships 

For every benefit social media has for relationships, there is a drawback. It is easy to keep up with the ones you love (maybe too easy?). Do you still have deep, meaningful conversations in person? It is easy to keep up with a lot of people you love—and a lot of people you don’t even know (maybe too many?). Are you oversaturated with the details of 300 people’s lives that you’re not doing a good job of loving the 10 people you see week to week? We can quickly train ourselves to be consumers of information instead of lovers of people. Knowing about someone’s life and sharing everything about your own life via social media is not the same as being a real friend. Of course Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to be a true friend. As Jesus teaches, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Friendship is more than the sum of status updates and pictures. Friendship is sacrifice. It’s bearing each other’s burdens. It’s not just virtual—it must be tangible.

Jessica Barefield lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Trip, and their son Q. You can read more from her at her blog, Like To Love.

SHARES

59 comments

  1. XavierReply

    This is so true. I will openly admit that I waste hours and hours of my time and days on social media and all the points brought forward, I can directly relate to. I know in my mind and heart that I want to and have to cut it out, or greatly diminish it, but it isn’t easy. But the message you have conveyed and the words of God that you’re using to reinforce this speak to me clearly. Thank you for this article :)

  2. TyronReply

    Very good read! Was never involved in social networks until a little over a year ago and these are some of the reasons why. I have actually been thinking about deleting my social networks to focus on what needs to be focused on. Lot of good points here. Thank you for taking your time to write it and share.

  3. DanielaReply

    Wow! So true. I definitely need to work on my social media intake. It’s very consuming one of the very reasons I stopped getting on Pinterest. Thank you for sharing.

  4. StaceyReply

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been fighting with myself about getting on Facebook. Seems lately all it does is make mad angry. This was everything I needed to hear and will reread when I need to be reminded. Thank you and Trip. God Bless.

  5. Eulaivi ClutarioReply

    You are an inspiration! So many good points you have here. Praise God for your wisdom that’s understandable and very relevant to our generation! :)

  6. kaseweReply

    I have been cut to heart by this powerful sharing. I believe we are all found wanting in this area. Thanks Trip and Jessica. May God continue to use you .

  7. CLARAReply

    Thank you so much Jessica for these words that are so true and conviction given. May God continue to use you and you household :-)

  8. AngelaReply

    Thank you for this enlightening post! This should prompt us to fix our eyes on Jesus and less on others and self.

    Blessings!

  9. MarkReply

    Thank you so much, for the “little people” with out a voice it speaks numbers to think our “social” value is derived from social media. Thanks for the wake up call !

  10. Oyishoma EmmanuelReply

    That is so true. We waste precious time on social networks without purpose, and whenever purpose is not on ground, abuse is inevitable. I myself i’m guilty of this at times; but i pray for the grace to redirect my priorities.

  11. ADIN MOOREReply

    This is a really good post. Thank you for sharing it with us, enjoyed reading it and it opening my eyes to the pitfalls of social media. :) Grace & Peace.

  12. JosephReply

    Exactly why I PERMANENTLY deleted my Fakebook in early 2012. Just like how I gave up cable TV in 2001, I don’t miss either Fakebook or TV. FB makes it easy to love yourself, which is idolatry. Being on the computer for work (video editing) is all the more reason why I do not want to spend time on it in my free time, but it is so easy to waste time on the computer. If I’m on YouTube, it’s to watch edifying videos from other Christians. I HIGHLY recommend every Christian to read this article: “Forming our Souls with Facebook” by Shane Hipps (Second Nature Journal dot com)

  13. BarbaraReply

    Omg I was so convicted last week by exactly what you said …spending hours on facebook that should be spending in the word! I love this blog…keep the knowledge coming!

  14. PriscillaReply

    I like your balanced position; not completely condemning social media, yet pointing out the issues/tendency for sinfulness. Reminds me of iLove.

  15. SusanReply

    Thank you Jessica for this article & thank you Trip for posting on fb so I could see it & come to the blog to read it.

  16. RozReply

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is so very insightful and has helped me a lot in recognizing that I need to limit my time with social media. Many of the things you’ve described are all things I can relate to. Spending too much time on social media is not beneficial for my spirit your blog has really put it in words for me. Again thanks so much

  17. Clement MagomboReply

    God bless you for sharing this. I need to be pure and thoughtful in whatever I do online/offline. Grace and peace

  18. AdamReply

    This article caught my eye quick because my job is online and a big part of it is social media. Before this was my job I could completely relate to this. It really can be a time waster if there is no self control. It should be something approached with caution for sure!

  19. NaishaReply

    I saw this link on my Facebook and was dreading to read it because I knew it would convict me and today I said, “Ok… Let me have it.” lol. Just about everything in here is true about how I spend my time online and I am going to assume that the person who wrote this article would not have posted this if she had not struggled with this herself in some way. So it is nice to know that there are other people who carry or did carry the same burden. At church you tend to feel like you shouldn’t admit to stuff like this, because we have created the idea that no one else struggles with it. Just the other day I was talking to my husband and telling him how I deleted some apps on my ipod (yes I still have an ipod and not an iphone, by choice) because it created unhealthy/ungodly thinking. I use to play Home Design where you can create your dream home and in turn I would become so depressed with the house we live in. I still love playing Mall World on FB and confessed to my husband that I like it because my avatar is someone I am not, she is pretty, skinny, independant and it is fantasy that I enjoy living through. Maybe I sound weird or people may think I shared too much but this is my own conviction. Thank you for reinforcing what I know by sharing your own conviction with us writer and other commenters.

  20. ChinaJohnsonReply

    I will be deleting my Facebook and Instagram for a while. This was my wake up call. My husbands has been telling me about this and the discontentment has gone too far! Thank you Jessica!

  21. RJReply

    Thank you! I’m gonna take a week long break from Facebook, Email, and Instagram and work on those relationships I have with people I see in my daily life.

  22. TylerReply

    Fantastic stuff! I’m a high school student and the part about putting so much stock into retweets and likes is so true! I definitely think their are some good things that can come out of Twitter/Facebook but it’s all about where you heart is!

  23. Mention: Daily Treasures | Treasuring Christ

  24. THOMASSINGWAReply

    Wow thank God that was written for me,may the life giver always bless you and your family.Trip has always been the man of days The music,writtens etc keeps me awake.we thank God for you

  25. Mention: For the Love of Lupe

  26. MirandaReply

    Really good post! Social media can be a little too much but when I see souls reach and they are planted into a church with their families and serving in church and in their community with the families.. That’s amazing to me.

  27. KeinyaReply

    Wow. This really spoke to me and I appreciate it. It’s so well articulated and has some great advice on ways to reflect. Thank you!

  28. MarjorieReply

    Thank you for posting this! I’m so glad God led me to your blog today because I definitely needed to read this!

  29. JerdonReply

    I love coming to this blog and reading all of these awesome posts by Trip and his wife. Keep up the good work you two!!! God bless.

  30. TheMesengerReply

    That is sooooo true it can take time away from god also you won’t seem to have the time 4 him we’ll cut it off make the time

  31. katReply

    awesome read. admittedly, i spend too much time looking at pretty boys and pretty things and getting caught up by all these superficial things on tumblr that i tend to push God aside. it’s a sad, sad thing; i could be reading up on His word and spending more time with Him….thanks for the eye opener!

  32. CharityReply

    Wow. I thought I was doing good because I was just on two networks. This definitely helped me check myself. I thought because I wasn’t sinning I was okay, and of course there is always room for improvement.

  33. YashiraReply

    God bless you for sharing this and thank you! This post just got me thinking about the time I waste with social media and its networks. It has helped me to re-think what I’m doing with time.

  34. MercyReply

    I agree with every point. I for sure have been avoiding instagram because I found myself comparing my self to other girls on there. It’s not good to feel ungrateful. I like looking at cute animals. Lol
    I considered deleting my fb, instagram accounts numerous times. I do think it’s good for keeping up with family members far apart though. :)

  35. home decorReply

    Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
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