Blinded By The 'Likes'
On paper, we know our identity doesn't lie in social media. But when those red hearts pop up and the likes come in... we can start to find our validation there instead. Hatty talks us through how we can stay rooted in our TRUE identity! MP Team x
Social media gives us the opportunity to create a specific image of ourselves, and the temptation is to only show the best parts of our lives: a candid snap or a witty caption in order to win likes.
What’s going on behind the screens that makes social media this all-consuming game to win the most likes as possible?
️It turns out, winning likes and followers is all tangled up with our deep human desire to be accepted.
When we look to people for acceptance it’s called “social validation”, and it has the power to shape our identity and impact our self-worth. Social media companies have cottoned on to our desire for social validation, and almost accidentally created a way to quantify it through likes 👍 ❤ The more likes we get from our followers, the more we feel validated, but it doesn’t satisfy long term. We keep on needing to go back to social media to get more and more.
I know that my aim online is often to present myself in a way that will gain maximum validation. This doesn’t mean I always try and paint myself in the most attractive light. I’d prefer people to see me as easy going and chilled out, so I post ridiculous pictures of myself to get a few laughs and seem confident in myself. However, in reality, my heart jumps every time I get a notification telling me I have new likes. I let the number of likes I get define who I am.
The problem is, we weren’t created for social validation.
When we look to people to validate us, we make ourselves vulnerable because we are all broken and hurting. Other people simply cannot meet our need to be validated in who we are. Our desire to be validated can lead us to pretend to be someone we are not, in order to win the approval of our social media followers.
Another problem with social validation is that it leads to comparison.
“Have I got as many followers as her?”
“Their post got how many likes!?”
“She’s my best friend on snapchat… am I hers?”
Comparison can ruin relationships and leave us feeling inadequate, isolated and insecure. When we compare ourselves to others, we either see ourselves as better than others and we can become proud - or we see other people as better than us and we can become depressed.
There will always be someone who has more friends than me, and someone else who gets fewer likes than me, so I see-saw constantly between feeling arrogant and feeling crushed.
Rather than social validation, we were created to be validated by God alone.
The Bible says ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) and in Him we find neverending affirmation and affection. He created us for the sole purpose of enjoying a relationship with him and he proved his love for us on the cross - even though we rejected him.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
God sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our own brokenness, so when we look for validation in God, we don’t have to hide that brokenness and pretend to be someone we’re not. Our performance is not what matters; we know that we’re accepted no matter how many likes we get...
🤷 So, where do we go from here?
First, we must be honest with ourselves. Have we fallen into the trap of finding our identity and security in our social media profile?
🙏 Confess this to God and ask him to guide you into finding your identity in him. God’s opinion is the only one that matters!
📚 If this is something you would like to grow in, try reading Compared To Her by Sophie De Witt.
You could also ask a friend how you come across on social media. Is your profile an accurate reflection of who you are in real life?
🌈 Have an eternal perspective: doing things not to be rewarded by people on earth, but to be rewarded by God.
And hold tight to your heart the knowledge that you are valid, accepted, loved and whole in the truth of the gospel and the love of God. Let's finish with Matthew 6:20 as a reminder of heavenly perspective...
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This article is number 3/4 of our April series: #SocialMediaSOS. We'll be back next Saturday!
Hatty moved to London last year to work with the Christian Union at City, University of London. Her weeks are full of meeting up with students, studying a bit of theology, training for the London marathon and preparing to get married in August!