What I discovered social media was doing to me
Written by Jacob Mathew on 03-08-2020
So, this guy happened to go next to a pool of water. Looking at his own reflection in the water, he madly fell in love… with himself.
Greek Mythology calls him Narcissus.
Then there was another lady who went and stood in front of a mirror. Loved talking to the mirror and desperately eager to know… ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’
Fairy tales call her the evil Queen.
Then there was another guy who created a Facebook account and Instagram account and YouTube channel.
The twenty-first century calls me a networker.
There is actually a test called the Narcissism Test. In the last two decades, the median score on this test has gone up by 30 percent. Basically, it means we have started thinking about ourselves a lot more than we did two decades ago. Actually it’s nobody’s fault. I mean, we cannot blame anybody else. We are to blame. From the time we were born we instinctively tended to think about ourselves. The last two decades grandiosely gave us apps, tools and devices that helped us to think more about ourselves. Without any strings attached. Freely. None of these tools or devices in itself are harmful. But it made it harder for us not to think about ourselves.
Everyday, our email IDs, Facebook accounts, Instagram, YouTube channel and all of the rest, reminds us of how unique and special we are. We have a special password and platform where we can showcase to the world our life, our voice and our standing. Our uniqueness is a cherished quality as it reminds us of how God created us uniquely in His image. If we could stop there it would be perfect and ideal. But these apps and accounts have this strange capacity to make us think more about ourselves than we ought to.
Imagine every day, like Narcissus, promoting ourselves and projecting ourselves as someone to be admired and valued and honoured. Secretly wondering if we are able to get the number of likes, shares, comments that would affirm our unique identity in our world.
Nothing anybody tells us can change who we are actually called to be. Everything nobody tells us can change who we are designed to be. But, we keep feeding our private egos to build ourselves an image larger than we need. Or handle. That’s why in 2020, some of our friends who had millions of followers and friends on social media, had nobody to affirm them(or probably listened to nobody) the truth of who they actually are. They gave up on life because they did not know who they are and what they can be beyond the facade of the public platform.
On the other hand, these social media platforms reminds us of the awesome friend circle we have around us. At the click of a button, we can share a screen and engage intimately and personally with friends from around the world. The precious memories we cherish every time we text each other, comment on each other’s photos/videos, or a do a video call. This virtual community or family is a great reminder of how God intended for us to live: in transparent authentic community. If we could stop there, it would be so powerful and beautiful.
But these apps and social media has the crazy ability to fan into flames a hidden passion: comparison and pursuit to be first.
Like the evil queen, we look into the mirror of social media, secretly shouting out- am I the best?
The more we watch each other, we fail to appreciate each other. We tend to compare, evaluate, and strategise with an one-point agenda- how can I become better than others? How can I get a bigger fan-following? More friends? More likes, shares and comments than my closest competitor.
It is no longer a rat race. It is a Likes race.
Sometimes one LIKE from a person you admire can brighten up your day. For example, when you choose to like this blog I am on cloud 9, imagining I have changed the world(See, it’s so subtle. I am just a LIKE away from trending towards narcissism). By the way, you don’t need to like this blog.
There seems to be a very vital use for this gentle giant called social media. One text or graphic or video can start a revolution. Governments and businesses urgently scurry to respond to a single tweet. Nobody wants a bad name. We all want a good reputation. This desire for a good reputation is making a lot of good difference in our world. Corruption, injustice, poverty, sex-trafficking are all been attacked through the voice of social media.
But, some of us don’t care about a good reputation. We want to be famous by being infamous. So, the more notorious the social media post is, greater is the appeal. Our desire for uniqueness, affirmation and significance will make us to do ANYTHING to start a revolution. YouTube channels are flooded with whatever our minds can creatively engineer(and sometimes there is no creativity) with content that will destroy our world. Interestingly and sadly, such content seems to have a greater following.
Narcissist. Evil queen. Networker. Me. How can we escape the mess and bring change in this convoluted dark web eating into the purity of our soul?
What do you think?
What are your personal actions steps to help you escape the drift towards glorifying self?
How do you keep a balance?
Last year, in a radical drive to escape my spiral towards narcissism, I went on an un-announced and ‘un-promoted’ 4 month lockdown of all my social media accounts.
I made few important discoveries:
-Nobody missed me on social media(except Facebook, who was quite concerned on me wanting to take this break)
-I made more time to meet people in person.
I was thinking less about myself and how I am projected.
-I seemed to be less informed about the gossip(Yes, I admit, that’s a downside ?)
-I was able to spend more undistracted time with my sons.
-I was able to reflect and think more.
-I was able to have a more focused time of worship and devotion. Discovering it’s not my world. Realising it is God’s world. I needed this break to enter into His world and follow closely His plan for my life.
Daily we are all drifting towards it. Selfishness. Narcissism. Self-centeredness. Egocentrism.
It’s time to shift gears.
Make wise choices.
Let go of the facade of ‘My-world’
Discover the beauty of ‘God’s world’