Social Media and Self-Worth

social media

I love social media. I have a presence on most major social media/networking platforms; I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. Not quite all of them, but a good majority.

I think that social media is an incredible tool and has definitely benefited me in many ways. But I’m frustrated. Not with the tool, but with how it’s being used/viewed (by me included. I don’t believe for a moment I’ve got all of this figured out). I’ve noticed that a lot of social media users are just looking for attention. It’s all about how many likes we can get on our Facebook post or Instagram picture or how many favorites and retweets we can get on that Tweet. We seem to think that our “performance” on social media is a reflection of who we are and that our self-worth is directly proportional to how “popular” we are on social media.

That is not true. It’s just not. Your self-worth has nothing to do with social media. Nothing.

Posting more often, posting less often, posting completely random stuff, posting a ton of pointless photos, posting a ton of meaningful photos, posting only deep quotes, posting only “important” information, none of those “tactics” are going to make you a better person. They’re not going to affect your self-worth.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that social media is about connecting with people. It’s about communicating with them, talking with them, getting to know them. Don’t use social media just to get, but rather to give. 

I’ve found that when I do let myself slip into the mindset that I need to “perform well” on social media, I tend to be more discontent and more frustrated. But I when treat social media as the tool it’s supposed to be and  just enjoy it for what it is, I’m a whole lot more satisfied and much happier.

Think about it this way. In the long run, which is going to matter more? The number of likes you get on your profile picture or status? Or the lives you impact and bless because you care about others?

Use social media. Don’t let it use you or define you.

P.S. – In a previous blog post, I discussed a video that looks at the connection between social media and loneliness. Here’s the video again if you’re interested. It’s very thought-provoking and helps explain some of the challenges that come with social media.

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You Never Know

Recently, a friend on Facebook shared this true story that is powerful, thought-provoking, inspiring, challenging, and fits perfectly with the purpose of my blog.

I went to the store to buy ammunition for my airsoft gun. When I reached the aisle that carried airsoft guns and supplies, there was a man standing there looking at the various guns that you could buy. He asked me a few questions, and we started talking about gun rights here in the U.S. As soon as I had finished giving him my opinion on the matter, he turned to me and said, “Wow, how old are you?” I replied, “I’m 16.” He looked at me for several seconds without saying anything, then he proceeded to say, “There’s no way you can be 16 and speak that eloquently and actually know what you’re talking about.” I was slightly taken aback, in a pleasant way, but nevertheless I had difficulty thinking of how to reply other than with a “Thank you.” He went on to tell me that he was a lawyer that worked for a huge law firm in my hometown…. He told me that he had never met a person my age that could communicate their stand on a certain issue with the same level of understanding and professionalism that I had when I spoke to him. I thanked him multiple times, and the last thing he asked me was, “Where do you go to school?” I said, “I’m home-schooled actually.” Again, he looked at me for several seconds and said, “If homeschooling produces such well-educated, polite, and professional students, then I am absolutely going to home-school my children.” It was the ultimate lollipop moment… I thanked him several times… We finished the conversation, and he told me that he was very impressed by what I had said to him. He soon left, but he left me with a thought that keeps reverberating in my mind: people pay attention to the way we behave, both inside and outside of our education. The image we portray in such circumstances either promotes God or degrades Him, and as Christians, we are to glorify God, not only in what we say, but also in what we do. I knew this already, but it carried so much more meaning after my experience in talking to this man. I’m not boasting about my accomplishments, but I am pointing out that even the smallest things we do can have a huge impact on others…

When I read this, I was amazed. Think of the influence and impact this young man had on that lawyer, just because of how he communicated! Let this sink in for a moment – this lawyer determined the style of education for his children based off of the actions of one individual! This just goes to show the influence, the power, that each of us have in our communication.

Will you be intentional and purposeful in your communication? How are you going to use your influence? You never know who you’re impacting.

You Get What You Expect

Take a quick look around your world, and it’s pretty obvious how much of a mess we’re in. Especially when it comes to young people. Young people think they’re entitled to everything, are disrespectful, and it’s pretty sobering to think of what the world will be like once the next generation takes over. If we were to plot this reality on a graph of 0-20 (with zero being as bad as possible and twenty being incredible), it might look something like this:Low reality

But there’s more to this graph. Reality can also be referred to as “results.” Why? Because you get what you expect. In other words, reality is the result of whatever you expect. So there’s actually two parts to this graph: results and expectations. And they are very closely related. Today, we have very low expectations of young people. You might think the reason is because the results are low. But it’s actually the other way around. We have low results because we have low expectations.2

When expectations change, the results will follow to match the expectations. So if you raise your expectations, then your results will rise.3

So what happens when you lower your expectations? The results decrease.5

This is the problem with today’s young people. Our culture expects “not much” from young people, so “not much” is the result. Young people play close attention to the cues given them by adults. And they respond. Society tells us that teenagers go through a rebellious stage. So parents expect their kids to go through a rebellious stage. And so they do. Not because it’s “natural” but because it’s expected. I never went through a rebellious teenager stage. Not because I’m unique, but because my parents didn’t expect me to. In fact, they expected the exact opposite. Results follow expectations.

So if we want better results from young people, what do we have to do? We must raise our expectations. Once our expectations rise, then results will rise to match them. And this trend will continue.7

Not only are we not getting good results by having low expectations, but what are we communicating? If I have low expectations of you, what am I telling you? That I don’t believe in you. That I don’t think you’re capable of something better. That I don’t think you’re mature enough. This is what’s being communicated to young people today. But here’s the deal. Young people won’t become mature unless they’re expected to and are treated like the people they’re expected to be.

Of course, this does’t acquit young people of responsibility for their actions. Not by a long shot! Young people can fight against low expectations. Yet, they might not even realize that there’s something to fight against. The environment young people live in has a great effect on them. I was able to fight against low expectations because of the environment my parents created at home. If that environment doesn’t exist, then young people might not realize that they should be fighting to start with.

If adults expect young people to waste their life, they’ll treat them like that, and young people will waste their life. That’s what we’re seeing today. Let’s reverse that! Adults, I ask you to expect more of us as young people. And we will rise to that expectation. Treat us like the people you want us to be. We will rise to the challenge. Because you always get what you expect.