It sure feels like it…
Part of me wants to rid myself of social media – to leave it all behind. I hate what it often does to my soul. If the heart is an idol factory, then social media works on the factory floor.
I deleted my Facebook account several months ago because it was taking over my life (this wasn’t the only reason, but it was a major reason). I spent too much time scrolling through my news feed, to the point where I’d read all the way back to where I had previously finished. I cared too much about including myself in theological arguments that wouldn’t be solved behind a keyboard. I wanted to be the smartest, provide the wittiest comment, and get the most “likes.”
But it left me empty.
Facebook had become an idol.
At that point, my Twitter usage was mainly for drawing readers to my old blog. However, upon deleting my Facebook, I began using Twitter more, and have discovered that they are analogous. That is, despite some formatting differences, many of the same “problems” remain. I still read my entire feed back to where I had previously finished. Instead of drawn-out comments, arguments consist of multiple tweets at the opponent. Sarcasm and wit are normative, they are just limited to 140 characters (this is preferable, though, as Lord Polonius rightly thinks that brevity is the soul of wit). “Likes” are still present, but they cower before the Almighty Retweet.
In the distance, I hear factory workers throwing coal into the furnaces.
A friend recently tweeted his wish for Twitter to verify him, but he knew they wouldn’t because he’s “a nobody.” Although he was probably joking, I remember thinking, “Yeah, me too.” I want to be verified because that means you have lots of followers, lots of acknowledgement, and lots of fame. In part, this stems from friends, albeit “online friends,” that I envy. They’re followed by important people, their tweets get retweeted (without asking!), their blogs are advertised, their projects are supported.
To be sure, the furnace flame has been fanned. Twitter has become an idol too. And so, I’ve had to do more self-evaluation.
Why am I on Twitter?
Why do I care about retweets?
Why do I want to be followed?
God has gifted me as a thinker and writer; however, most writers struggle with some form of narcissism.
I’m not excluded from that group.
My “innocent” desire to practice thinking and writing often produces the belief that I deserve to share my thoughts with the world, which often yields the belief that I deserve to write for important outlets, have my ideas validated through book publication, speak at conferences, have thousands of followers, etc.
This is a deadly mixture. Envy led Cain to kill Abel. Entitlement led David to rape Bathsheba. If we are seeking sanctification, we cannot capitulate to these sinful attitudes.
So, where might be a better place (or person!) to find my identity? Rather than retweets, I would suggest the God-man: Jesus Christ.
Piper is right when he says that our identities lay “fundamentally in the fact that I’m a creature of God with a nature that has a design given by God and that design is to display or image forth his greatness and his beauty and his worth.”
Jesus came to glorify the Father (John 17:1-2). And, if I’ve been created in God’s image (i.e., I’m an image bearer), then my responsibility is to reflect that image. Jesus, as a man, reflected the image of God with perfection. He is our ultimate example. Although I am unable to bear God’s image perfectly, I can still work towards that goal; for, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
So, that’s our charge. Don’t find your identity in book deals or thousands of Twitter followers. Don’t find your identity in speaking at massive conferences or writing for popular outlets. Your identity should be found alone in the perfect, God-honoring image bearer, Jesus Christ.