Here’s a profound truth about social media: it allows people to make their lives look like they are blissfully perfect. Whether it is intentional or not, most of us do this when we only post pictures or status updates that highlight exciting events or happy times with friends. Occasionally, people share prayer requests, which reveal that life isn’t perfect for them, but not everyone is willing to share their serious struggles on social media. All this leaves us scrolling through profile after profile thinking everyone else has a perfect life, and over time we start to feel discontent with our lives and lose a sense of reality. It also makes us want to hide behind the social media curtain and never talk to people about hard times in life, which leads to something I like to call the “social media blues”. In First Student Ministries, we are going through a series about friendships, and we discussed how good friends don’t let others live disconnected lives and get stuck in a spiritual or emotional rut. Although social media is supposed to keep us engaged and “social”, it often times has an adverse effect, and that is why each one of us needs good, real friends to lift us up when we are alone or discouraged. Genuine friendships are the cure for the social media blues.
Loneliness and depression are closely linked to social media. If we allow ourselves to stay in a low place we can become discouraged, and it sucks the joy out of life. Consider the story of Ruth and Naomi in Ruth 1:1-18. Naomi had gone through some rough times, and I’m sure she struggled with depression and loneliness. Ruth showed us a perfect example of friendship because she remained with Naomi through the bad times. Even Job’s friends set a good example for us. Although they didn’t offer the best words of encouragement, they showed up when he was alone and hurting. Proverbs 17:17 tells us “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We all need someone who will remain with us when life gets us down, and we should all be challenged to do the same for our friends.
Do you have a friend who might need a word of encouragement today? I believe it is possible for someone to spend a lot of time with a group of “friends” and still go home feeling completely alone. If their friends are not invested in them, it is easy for them to fly under the radar and go through life alone. Whether it is because of social media blues, or life is just tough at the moment, they might be stuck in a spiritual or emotional funk and in need of a godly friend to come alongside them and remind them of who they are and the value that Jesus placed on their life when He died for them.
If you find yourself reading this today and life isn’t all smiles, then be reminded of all that Jesus has done for you to have abundant life and everlasting joy. Social media profiles are just a small glimpse into someone’s life. Everyone has struggles and you are not alone in yours. I pray that you will seek out friendships with people who won’t let you do life alone. On the other hand, if you are reading this and life is everything you dreamed it would be right now, then I challenge you to look around at your friends. People don’t always wear their emotions on their sleeves, so are you invested in them enough to recognize when they need someone to listen to and encourage them? Jesus-exalting friends are ones who “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Don’t live behind the curtains of social media, and don’t allow your friends to either.
Here are a couple of related articles for more thoughts on this topic:
Middle School Minister