How to Overcome Social Media Troubles: Image
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To the woman seeking authenticity,
This is our last post in a series on the unintended negative consequences that sometimes arise from social media, and I have to say, this one is closest to my heart and one I pray about the most. In the past few articles, we have discussed four social media red flags and biblical encouragement to help navigate through these troubles. Today, we will examine the fifth red flag, image.
In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries' named selfie the word of the year. At the time of writing this article, there are 305,213,213 images on Instagram using #selfie. Now, there is nothing wrong with taking and posting selfies; I have some on my social media. However, we can see the filtered and meticulously planned selfie as an analogy of how we can use social media to filter our lives and our image. And by image I mean the general impression of us that we present to the public.
When we continually filter and edit our lives and our image though, it can be harder to show others who we truly are, harder to be authentic.
We send our filtered and edited life and image out there into the realm of social media and receive instant affirmation that others "like" us, that they "like" who we are. We can essentially, create the "perfect" image of ourselves and our lives. It is easy to hide our true self.
You could use the word veil as an equivalent to filter, and I want to look at a few stories to illustrate how this veil can affect our authenticity.
2 Corinthians 3:14-15 reads
"But their minds were made dull . . . a veil covers their hearts."
The Life.Church message #struggles - Authenticity says it like this,
"A veil that first covers the face eventually covers the heart" (2017).
The first story I want to share with you quite illustrates these verses. If you have been around this blog for awhile, you may know that I love literature, and so let's turn to a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne called "The Minister's Black Veil."
In this story, Reverend Hooper dons a black veil to illustrate to his congregation the nature of men's secret sin. Though he is doing this to try and get his congregation closer to one another and God, he loses the essential essence of his faith, to love one another. His congregation becomes completely distracted by his veil, they become fearful of him, and he loses sight of his love for others and their love for him.
"Thus, from beneath the black veil, there rolled a cloud into the sunshine, an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him" (Hawthorne).
Second, let's look at Exodus 34:29-35 Moses has returned from receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. His face is bright and radiant from spending time with God, and after he speaks to the Israelites, he places a veil over his face.
Again looking at 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 Paul tells us that Moses placed a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from seeing the radiance fade away. Moses filtered the truth.
When we are insecure in ourselves and insecure in our sins, we often filter our lives, so others will not see the truth.
I read an article recently which stated that often when couples are struggling in their relationship, they tend to overshare "gushing statuses" to try and gain reassurance and validation about their relationship from others (Blair 2017).
So, are you filtering or veiling something in your life?
I used to do this with my healthy food and exercise pictures/statuses. I posted what appeared to be my "healthy" lifestyle while in the midst of an eating disorder and compulsive exercising disorder!
When we continually superficially veil ourselves showing only half-truths and overstatements it can leave us craving for something more, wanting to show our true selves and genuinely connect with others. Because the truth is "We actually connect with people through our weaknesses" (Groeschel 2015). ~ Galatians 6:2; James 5:16
Now, I am not saying that we need to share everything in our lives on social media. So a good rule of thumb is "everything we say must be true, but not everything true should be said" (Groeschel 2015).
We need to be wise about what we share and post online.
The place to be completely vulnerable is in the intimate presence of "private life-giving, healthy, God-honoring relationships" (2015).
So how can we resist our desire to filter our lives? How can we contend creating a perfected online "image" of ourselves? How can we be truly authentic, vulnerable, and remove the veil? How can we defeat the fear that our true self will not be accepted? To answer this let's go back to 2 Corinthians 3:16,
"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
Yes, "Only Christ can remove the veil."
Your identity, the affirmation you desire will not come from anything in this world. It can only come from Jesus, your Creator and your Savior who knew you before He formed you in your mother's womb. ~ Jeremiah 1:5.
Through Jesus the veil is gone, Jesus tore the veil when He gave up His spirit ~ Matthew 27:51. Sister, realize this, your acceptance and affirmation come from Jesus, and His love for you, not the "likes" and followers you have on social media. And guess what? You do not have to create an image, He knows you, the real you, your heart and He loves you.
Let me come back to a few of my Words to Live By that I first shared with you in Dear Ladies, You are Astoundingly Beautiful Part 3,
I am the daughter of the King of all kings.
I am content in Christ alone.
I am not a people-pleaser because I answer to God first and seek to please Him.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17
Sister, be released from the bondage of creating an image you think others want to see. Embrace the freedom of Christ to transform you into His image. Not for our glory, but for His glory.
Thank you for staying with me through this series on social media. It is my hope that you found support. I urge you to view the Life.Church series #struggles and to read the book of the same name by Craig Groeschel for more guidance.
Yours Truly, LeNae
P.S. If you are struggling with social media and know you need to detox but are not sure how, subscribe to the Yours Truly, LeNae newsletter and download the free Social Media Detox Challenge. Leave a comment below; I'd love to hear from you.
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Blair, Olivia. 2017. "They're probably not as happy as they look." Independent. Published January 17. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/couples-social-media-oversharing-facebook-instagram-twitter-relationship-insecurities-experts-nikki-a7530911.html.
Groeschel, Craig. 2015. #struggles. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
Life.Church. 2017. #struggles: Authenticity. Accessed June 21. https://www.life.church/watch/struggles/authenticity/.