VANITY - Social Media & Discipleship

A couple taking a selfie

In the last few posts i have spoken about the 'we' of the internet: collaboration, cooperation, co-creation, networks. Now i want to talk about the 'me' of the internet.

The trolls of social media sites like twitter are gaining more and more media attention, even putting off potential buyers of twitter.

Cyber bullying has become a major problem.

Whilst it is great to emphasise the incredible things that we can achieve through the internet, it is important for us not to ignore the potential dangers.

I believe that the web acts as an amplifier. It amplifies the best and worst parts of humanity.

Our ability to care is shown dramatically through the sharp increase in crowd funding, made possible through the web, allowing millions of people, in small ways, to make a tangible difference.

But the same can be said of those less desirable traits. In fact many social media sites have one thing at the top of their agenda: vanity.

The most successful social media sites place great emphasis on making me the star of my social network.

"More than 80m photographs uploaded to Instagram every day,
more than 3.5bn ‘likes’ every day, and some 1.4bn people - 20% of the world’s population - publishing details of their lives on Facebook."1

Just this weekend I was bowling, the tv screens were filled with adverts that just said "now you are the star".

I think that the lines are very difficult to define.

I am a fan of the selfie-revolution, and it's power to inspire self-confidence in people. I don't know where the line is drawn between a movement to self-confidence, and a movement to pure arrogance and vanity.

For each of us it is important to search our own hearts for the ways that social media is affecting us. We can then create ways to mitigate against it's effects, such as social media fasting.

This is where it becomes important for us as disciples of Christ. Our movement should always be an outward one. It should be a movement about moving from a concentration on ourselves, to a concentration on others.

Obviously this movement involves a concentration on ourselves as well. We cannot serve others if we ourselves are sleep deprived, malnourished and in a terrible emotional state, but the movement does not end there; it always moves outwards, towards the other.

May we assess our hearts regularly, may we take corrective action, and may our movement always be one of outwards momentum.

1 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/17/i-narcissist-vanity-social-media-and-the-human-condition

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