I love social media. It inspires me to be more creative and to see the world from different perspectives. It also, thankfully, helps to keep me connected to friends and family across the world. I’m grateful to live in a world that’s more interconnected than ever before, but I also recognize that the more presence I have online, the less I seem to be present in my own life. Somewhere in the balance between “following” and being, I’ve found that rare gift of authenticity. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
- There’s a fine line between admiration and comparison.
We’ve all played the “compare and despair” game when it comes to being online. Whether it’s bloggers with millions or followers or an effortlessly cool coworker, admiring someone through the lens of social media is a fun but dangerous hobby. I believe God made each person unique, and I find that admiring another person’s beauty—physically, creatively, soulfully—helps me better appreciate His handiwork. The trick is, it can be so easy to cross that line between celebrating others to comparing my life to theirs. Social media exaggerates our human nature to compare. Webster’s Dictionary defines authenticity as “worthy of acceptance or belief.” In order to be truly authentic, I have to remember that I am worthy, just as He designed me to be.
- Don’t stalk. Do stay grateful.
This one’s pretty simple: If you find yourself pulling up the same person’s feed, over and over, you’ve crossed the line between following and stalking. It isn’t a good look for anybody, trust me. A little curiosity is harmless, as long as we never forget God’s blessings in our own life. The next time you’re tempted to see what he’s doing or peek at her latest photos, stop and take a moment to remember that you’re living a life unique to Him. I can’t speak for God, but I have a feeling He doesn’t want us wasting our gifts of curiosity and exploration on needless comparison.
- Social media breaks are necessary.
I will stay on this soapbox forever: Social media breaks, however long they may last, are the absolute best “me time” you can give yourself. Every so often, without rhyme or reason, I’ll challenge myself not to look at social media—it could be for a day or it could be for three weeks. Spending time away from my phone frees up my heart and mind to focus on me. And more importantly, it gives me the quiet to hear what He is trying to speak to me, without the distraction and noise of the next like or tweet.
- Authenticity is imperfection. Embrace it.
Life is not a picturesque square. Life is a messy, shapeless, chaotic explosion of trial and error, full of moments and feelings that could never be confined to a square or feed, no matter how many likes it got. Being imperfect may not be the caption of the day, but it’s real. It’s beautiful in its own way, because it reminds us how badly we need a Savior. Don’t be afraid to get messy, because Jesus certainly wasn’t. And please, whatever you do, decide to go easy on yourself. You don’t have to have it all together, you just have to try to love yourself as Jesus loves you: fully and without fear.