For another perspective on social media, read Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra’s “Why I Left Social Media—and Won’t Go Back.”
I have vivid memories of sitting at the family desktop computer in middle school. I waited through the familiar tune of dial-up internet, double-clicked Internet Explorer, and navigated to MySpace. I often sat at that desk for hours checking my ranking on my friends’ top 8, learning just enough HTML to embed the perfect profile song, and refreshing my browser over and over for the repeated dopamine hit of that little red notification.
Social media has evolved significantly since the early 2000s. It’s still just as addictive but significantly more complex. Nasty Twitter battles and heated comment sections highlight our depravity as we degrade fellow image-bearers without a second thought. Filters and fitspo present impossible standards that fill us with anxiety and discontent.
And yet I’ve chosen to stay. Why? Because I believe God can redeem even social media for his glory and our good. Despite all the dangers and flaws, here are a few reasons why I still log on.
Place to Form Connections
Online relationships are not a replacement for in-person community. Sadly, they can give the illusion of meaningful friendship when we aren’t connected with people who know us deeply.
God can redeem even social media for his glory and our good.
However, many of the connections I’ve made are nevertheless meaningful. Some of the people I’ve connected with I’ve later met at conferences or coffee shops and are now part of my in-person community. Others work in my field and have become a type of virtual support system. Social media has even been the avenue through which I’ve found several jobs.
I’ve connected to ministries and people who’ve provided resources to help me grow in my walk with Christ. In fact, I first discovered The Gospel Coalition through social media.
Opportunity for Growth
From recipes and life hacks to parenting and spiritual growth, many accounts I choose to follow post things that encourage me, edify me, and equip me. Curating a feed that encourages positive growth takes work, but the resources I’ve gained have been remarkably helpful.
With intentionality and discernment, social media allows me to be challenged by viewpoints I hadn’t previously considered. By following people whose convictions differ from mine, I’m constantly reminded to test everything against God’s Word, including the claims of people I trust, and my awareness and empathy grow for those whose experiences are different from my own.
Avenue to Share the Gospel
Tik Tok isn’t necessary for evangelism, nor is an Instagram post a replacement for in-person ministry. However, billions of people use these apps, and they’re listening.
Online platforms offer another opportunity to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to share Bible study tools and practical ways to implement spiritual disciplines, and to encourage others toward local church community.
Social media has many potential benefits but it also comes with significant dangers. It’s important to navigate it with biblical wisdom. When I don’t set boundaries or carefully consider the implications for my life and spiritual health, I’ve suffered the consequences—wasted time, heightened anxiety, and covetousness, just to name a few.
In order to engage in a healthy way, I set up guardrails to protect myself and others. Here are a few to consider implementing yourself.
1. Set time limits.
Sometimes I surprise myself with how quickly I navigate to a social media app on my phone without even realizing what I’m doing. They’re addictive, and it’s far too easy to waste hours scrolling. Ephesians 5:15–16 exhorts us to “look carefully then how [we] walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” In an effort to follow this command, I set time limits for these apps on my phone. If you’re too tempted to push the “add 15 minutes” button, consider having someone set a passcode to lock you out when your time is up.
2. Take regular breaks.
I typically delete social media apps entirely from my phone for the weekend and take extended breaks throughout the year. My mind is freed for prayer, Scripture meditation, and meeting the needs of others—and removing the apps even for a couple of days helps me reach for my phone less frequently when I reinstall them.
3. Curate your feed.
Does scrolling make you want to buy more things, increase your focus on physical appearance, lead you into temptation, or leave you bitter and anxious? Take some time to work through your “following” list. Do the accounts you follow lead you to think about what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8)? If the answer is no, it’s time to click the “unfollow” button.
4. Think before you post.
What we post affects and reveals our hearts just as much as what we consume. Before you post, ask yourself, What am I hoping this post will accomplish? Am I loving God and others by posting? Am I posting out of selfish ambition and vain conceit or in humility? Does my post glorify God or myself?
5. Reevaluate regularly.
I’ve chosen to stay on social media, but I can’t promise that will always be the case, nor am I confident the way I use it will remain the same. Take time regularly to ask yourself some important questions: How is social media affecting my heart? Is it still a good use of my time? Does anything need to change?
When I joined MySpace, I didn’t give any thought to what it would look like to use it wisely, aside from not sharing endangering personal information with strangers. I only saw it as a fun way to connect with friends.
Years later, by God’s grace, I’ve become increasingly aware of social media’s potential for evil as well as good. My prayer is that I’ll walk wisely through the world of social media for God’s glory and the good of others. That’s my prayer for you too.