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Have you ever had this experience?: You post a status on Facebook about something that just made you die laughing. An hour later, you check back in–no one’s liked it yet. “Oh well,” you think, “everybody’s been off doing something else. They’ll like it when they check their news feed in a bit.” You wait another hour and check in–still no likes. You think, “Where is everyone?” By the next morning, when you realize that there are still no likes and no comments, you are inwardly crushed. “What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they think it’s funny? Don’t they think I’m funny? See if I bother posting anything funny again!”
Or maybe you’ve had this one: You post a status on Facebook about something that just made you die laughing. Almost immediately, a friend clicks “like”. Within the hour, 15 people have liked it and several have even commented. By the next morning, you have 73 likes and 14 comments. You are ecstatic. “Yes! I gave them all a good laugh! They think I’m funny! I can‘t wait for the next time I come across something that hilarious!”
All forms of social media have some way of gauging how many people have interacted with what you post. With Facebook, you can count your likes and comments. With Twitter, you can count your followers and who’s retweeted your tweets. Youtube tells you how many views you have, and allows for comments, too, although I assure you, only about 0.00001 percent of them are worth reading. Blogs will tell you how many page views you have, and from which sources, at which times, in which countries, and even what browser they are using (tell me how many ordinary people care). I don’t use Pinterest, but I’m told you can track your followers there, too.
Now this can be a good thing. We share things on social media to a large extent because we want others to enjoy what we’ve enjoyed, in order to make our joy greater. We share things because we want others to grieve with us in our grief, in order that we may have sympathy and comfort. We share helpful links or raise awareness of causes because we want others to be encouraged and spurred on. We write blogs because we want others to benefit from things we’re doing or learning. And knowing you’ve been heard, having others interact with you about these things, is what social media is about. At face value, there is nothing wrong with this.
The problem with these kinds of gauges in social media is that they tempt us to pride. And we need to be aware of this so that we will be on our guard against the temptation. Whether we are posting out of pride or not is evidenced by our reaction to how others respond to us. It is one thing to post something so that others will share your joy. It is quite another to be angry or wounded when they don’t react the way you had hoped, or to place your confidence in how many people like your status.
Maybe I’m a little dense, but while I’ve been on Facebook for many years, it’s taken getting back into blogging for me to become aware of my own pride in this area. Perhaps because you invest more time in a blog post than in a Facebook status, or perhaps because you can track so many more details with a blog, I quickly became aware of how much I was inwardly captivated by the numbers. When they were up, I was happy and confident. When they were down, I was tempted to think poorly of people who weren’t “taking advantage of such helpful thoughts”. And when I noticed it with blogging, I realized that it extended to Facebook posts as well. In fact, part of the drive to be on Facebook so often was to check who was interacting with my posts. If I had a recent post, I’d be on quite frequently. If I hadn’t posted anything for a few days, I was less eager to check in. In short, my motives weren’t as altruistic as I thought. I wanted others to share my happiness or the things that I was learning, but what I also wanted was the flattery of man, the stroking of my ego.
One of the reasons I’ve decided to schedule my Facebook check-ins is so that I will be less able to give in to the temptation to constantly check on my own posts. It also means I don’t post as frequently, because if something occurs to me after I’ve already had my one visit, I have to wait until the next day, and by then, it may well not seem as important or worth sharing as it did in the moment. And when I do post something, either on Facebook or on the blog, I always need to come back to it with my humility guard up.
I must remember that my approval does not rest in how many likes or comments or visits I get. I don’t deserve any of them. I deserve only to have the full disapproval and hatred of all people, and especially of God. But because Christ stood in my place at the cross, I undeservedly have God’s full approval, and that can’t be changed even one bit by how many people do or don’t appreciate the things that make me laugh or cry or leap up and down!
So when I post something, whether on Facebook or on this blog, I want to do it humbly, thanking God that He gave me something so helpful, or joyful, or hilarious, and that even if no one else cares, I’m secure in my approval in Christ. And if many others find it helpful, or joyful, or hilarious, then I need to immediately stop and give the glory back to God.
Living for “likes” is, to use C.S. Lewis’ well-known illustration, like being content to make mud-pies in the slums when we have been offered a holiday at the sea. Will we be pleased with the paltry flattery of other people, or will we instead hand the glory to God, to whom it rightfully belongs, and receive the reward of infinite joy He offers us in the good news that we do not deserve His approval and yet we have graciously been given it in Christ?
Posted to martha_martha on 6/18/2012