This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Oct 18, 2022
Any of you who have been reading news articles about social media, you are aware that there is a link between social media use and depression. This is a problem for kids, but this is also a problem for adults. Why do you think that social media is so hard on people? It seems strange that the one experience designed to connect us all is the same thing that is hurting us. Why might that be?
I believe the answer is that we mistake what social media is. I might need to give you a spoiler alert warning on my next sentence. Social media is NOT REAL. Nothing on social media is real. I am not “in the know” when it comes to technology, but did you know there are apps you can put on your phone that removes wrinkles and makes you look younger? A few weeks ago, someone took a picture of me and sent it to me with one of these filters. I looked at it and thought I looked great! In fact, it was like being back in high school again. I was feeling pretty good about life until I got home and looked in the mirror and saw that I looked more like my dad than I looked like in high school. No offense to my dad, but I was depressed.
Now imagine that we accept what we see on social media as real. Sure, there are some people who post drama on social media. Or that super special post where someone is “asking for prayers” but gives no context as to what the prayers are for so that they can get 100 responses of people concerned about what is happening only to find out that they were having a bad hair day or something.
Most people put an image on social media that doesn’t reflect reality. Instead, you are seeing what the poster wants you to see. Nothing more and nothing less. Everything is filtered, edited, cropped, squeezed, and tinted to look the best. Everyone is always smiling, always having fun, and something cool is always happening. It isn’t real, even if the original poster wants it to be real.
Do not, please for goodness sakes, do not compare your unfiltered real life to someone else’s completely filtered and edited life you see online. That is what causes depression in people. Social media becomes a place to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing. It becomes the measuring stick of your life. It is the ultimate version of keeping up with the neighbors.
I am sure you all are aware of the 10 commandments. One commandment that made God’s top 10 we don’t talk about often, but as I sit here tonight and write this article, I realize it was put in place to address social media. We are all familiar with the more popular commandments like don’t murder, honor God, and honor your parents. But my attention goes to commandment #10, probably the least talked about but possibly most important of all: #10 do not covet.
We probably don’t talk about this commandment often because we don’t know what covet means. Covet means “to be consumed with desire for something.” How many times do you experience evil coveting when you are browsing social media. “I wish I was there, I wish I could do that, I wish I had a wife like her, I wish I had a house like that, I wish my kids would be that way…” My friends, that is coveting. That is desiring what someone else has, and Satan has never invented anything in the history of the world that has caused more coveting than social media.
I am not even talking about the other sinful activities that social media can cause like lust and envy. I am sticking to wishing your life was like someone else’s life. This is where I must remind you, none of it is real. No one posts pictures of those kids screaming, no one posts pictures of sweatpants and no makeup. Many of those pictures you see are digitally altered, making them even less real. All of this to make you want to live a life that even the people in the pictures are not living.
I get responses to any article I write about how bad social media is, and I know, many of you are going to email me and tell me that you are different when it comes to social media and it doesn’t harm you. Fine, I am glad it is working for you. But I can tell you based on numerous conversations I have had with broken hearted people, there are plenty of people out there who are struggling with it. I am writing this article as an encouragement to them.
Don’t measure your real life up against someone else’s fake one. You will end up on the losing end every time.