Is Social Media An Idol?  Examining The Place We Put Social Media In Our Lives.

Social Media Speaker & Thought Leader, Denver ColoradoCan you imagine a world without social media?  I actually can.  I remember the days before even owning a computer!  But, our world is changing and now even pre-teens have their own phones and are begging for social media accounts.  We start to have panic attacks if our smart phone is less than three feet away from us at any moment.  It makes me wonder if we’re placing too much importance on social and digital media in our lives.

An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with admiration, adoration, or devotion.  It’s easy for something to become an idol in our lives, and after looking at this definition (thanks Wikipedia), I would beg to argue that social media is an idol for many of us today.

How to worship an idol:

  1. Give it praise everyday.  Do you go on social media everyday?  Do you go on multiple times a day?  Do you talk fondly about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram?
  2. Put it in a place of reverence.  Are you automatically logged into all of your social media accounts?  Do you carry your social media with you wherever you go?
  3. Prioritize it.  How do you spend the first part of your day?  Most hop on Facebook or Instagram first thing to see what they’ve missed in their network over the past night.
  4. Let it change your thoughts.  Idols are worshipped and represent certain ideals.  What are the ideas on social media that you let infiltrate your mind?  Are you being told that your home is not enough?  Your relationship status isn’t enough?  That your social life is not enough?  That your size of family is not enough?  That your business is not enough?  What thoughts are you letting into your life via your social media idol?
  5. Devote yourself to it.  Followers of an idol will be devoted to it, doing what it says.  When Facebook prompts you to change your profile picture or create a photo collage, do you do it?  How often do you change your profile pictures?  Do you post pictures about everything you’re doing?  Do you post about how you “feel” because it prompts you?  Are these things necessary and good?  Do you use hashtags because you really need to, or because you feel like you should?

It’s scary, isn’t it?  You start looking through this list of things we do with religious idols and then mirror that to social media and it can start to look very similar.  The thing with idols in our lives is that they are seemingly good things.  And, it’s a fine line you have to walk between it being a good thing in life and becoming an all consuming idol.

Whatever your personal beliefs, you have to ask yourself the question of am I worshipping social media or the person that social media lets me be?  Do you spend as much time praising, revering, prioritizing, thinking, and devoting yourself to your faith as you do to social media?  What is truly important in your life and how does the way you’re spending your time reflect those levels of importance?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in social media and it’s easy to make it a little god in our lives.

Here’s what starts to happen:

  1. We miss out on life right in front of us.
  2. We start thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought.
  3. We have a skewed perspective of what life should look like.
  4. We start focusing on the values presented on our social feeds, rather than those we personally hold dear.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I believe there is a lot of good that can come out of social and digital media in our lives.  What I am saying, though, is that it’s a really fine line we walk daily in our digital society.  If we’re not careful, we can start to let social media be THE most important part of our lives and we can miss out on so much else that is by far more important.

You make your living on social media and digital marketing…Why write this post?

As I watch our culture shift and change from the effects of social media, there’s a huge burden on my heart to be constantly evaluating what place I put social media in my life personally.  As a social media consultant, I am immersed in it everyday, and it can be a huge struggle.  There’s a phrase I heard somewhere along the line that says “just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”  I think it’s really relevant when we live in a world where we CAN post our entire lives to the world via social media.  We CAN make enemies with a single tweet.  We CAN doctor the exact representation of ourselves that we want people to see. That doesn’t mean that we SHOULD.