What Facebook Isn't Telling You
I don’t mean to brag, but my Facebook friends are smarter than yours.
They read interesting books, have witty observations about life, and give their time, resources and energy to the most important causes. Come to think of it, they like and do all of the things that I admire.
Because if they didn’t, I’d simply unfollow them.
Facebook, like most social media, is a poor representation of the real world that surrounds us. And like it or not, when we succumb to a distorted viewpoint, our leadership and influence are severely hindered.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bashing the use of social media. I happen to love scrolling through snapshots of my friends and family, in between reading 10-second summaries of today’s most important issues. Given the opportunity, I’d be first in line to encourage Facebook’s existence with a giant blue thumbs up.
But I cannot, will not, allow Facebook to define my reality. And neither should you. Why? Because Facebook isn’t telling us the Truth.
1. Facebook is a highlight reel.
With the exception of a few isolated rants and pleas for prayer, your friends and colleagues are primarily posting the “best ofs” from their day. Case in point, I recently posted a beautiful photo of my two well-behaved children frolicking through a pumpkin patch. I did NOT post any images of the hostile eruption that took place in the backseat of my minivan 10 minutes later.
Comparing your life and leadership to that of your virtual friends will lead to feelings of disillusionment, fear, and lack of self-worth. Your real world troubles and inadequacies stand in stark contrast to the carefully selected and edited highlights you’ll find online.
2. There is no “dislike” button.
Have you ever read a totally self-absorbed or misguided status with which you wholeheartedly disagreed? Me too. And if you’re anything like me, you probably shook your head or rolled your eyes then politely and quietly moved on.
Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, has repeatedly gone on record that there will never be a true “dislike” button. In an address at Facebook headquarters September 15, Zuckerberg said he wants to give users different ways to express emotions, but he doesn't ever want to turn Facebook into a "forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts."
Zuckerberg’s intent to keep things positive is commendable in today’s bully-ridden cyberspace. However, we can find a false sense of affirmation and security when we believe all of our friends stand in silent agreement with our viewpoints.
3. Everyone is like you.
Facebook users have an average of 300 friends each, and those friends, on average, post new content four times each day. That means that on any given day, you could log onto your newsfeed and see approximately 1,200 updates from your friends, family and favorite organizations. Needless to say, that’s WAY too much content for you to process or enjoy on a regular basis.
Thankfully, Facebook has come up with a handy dandy way to help you through their sophisticated filtering algorithm. When you “like” or interact with a person, page or type of content, you will see more posts like that over time. Conversely, people or pages that you don’t actively engage with will eventually disappear from your newsfeed.
In a recent YouTube video, Derek Muller of Veritasium explains the downside to this approach. He says, “This usually means that the people you disagree with will vanish, leaving you with a newsfeed that is essentially an echo chamber affirming your views, the things you already think and believe.”
In other words, through Facebook, we are under the illusion that everyone thinks, talks and acts exactly like us. This distortion only only makes it that much more shocking and appalling to encounter opposing viewpoints in the “real world.”
Grounded in Truth
Facebook, and social media in general, is a wonderful way to stay connected with our network of friends, family and colleagues. However, there are far better ways to stay connected to reality.
1. Remember Who you are and Whose you are.
You are a God’s beloved creation, a child of the Most High King. Your worth can’t be summarized by your Facebook status. Rather, your value comes from Him alone. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
2. Establish habits that keep you grounded.
Read God’s Word. Pray to Him. Listen to Him. If you’re stressed, frustrated, or exhausted, try replacing those hours of scrolling through your newsfeed with time spent in intimate conversation with the Savior.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
3. Surround yourself with truth tellers.
In order to increase your influence or grow as a leader, you must have truth tellers who will gently, lovingly, and truthfully hold you accountable. Be purposeful in spending meaningful face-to-face time with wise, Jesus-led truth tellers who will ask you the hard questions and challenge you to see things differently. Truth tellers help you see your blind spots, as well as encourage you to become the impactful leader that God designed you to be.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Real, Transforming Power
Facebook is an escape from reality, not a reflection of it. When we base our lives on distortion, we limit the potential influence we can have among those we seek to lead.
On the other hand, by staying grounded in God’s truth, we can greatly increase our ability to make a significant impact in the real world. We are able to show real people – with real hurts, real joys, real frustrations and real potential – the real life-transforming power of Jesus. Your influence will know no bounds.
And that’s something we all can like.
Prayer: Lord, I’m surrounded by so many distorted messages every single day. Help me to stay focused on what You would have me to be and do in the real world. Grant me the wisdom to separate the truth from the lies, and to turn to You for my sense of purpose and belonging. You are all the Truth I need. Amen.
By Heather Day
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