Morgan L. Busse on Navigating Social Media as a Christian
Ever felt like you have to be someone different online than you are in real life? Ever wondered if the other people online are really who they seem to be from their profiles or posts? Social media often whispers the lie that we can create ourselves into something new, something different, something better.
Today, we hear from talented author, Morgan L. Busse, on the merits and pitfalls of our online presence. Our lives are not only “in real life” any more—they are increasingly virtual, and as with everything else we experience in life, we must filter our online lives through the lens of the scriptures.
Below, Morgan Busse explains some key truths when it comes to navigating our online lives.
God Won’t Shout
Back when I was a teen there wasn’t such a thing as social media, so the advice I give is one I’ve found as an adult. But I hope what I’ve learned over the years can help you know how to navigate the online social world and free you from expectations.
-You don’t have to be friends with everyone.
-Treat those online with the same respect as you would if you were having coffee together (it’s sometimes hard to remember there’s a real human behind the screen).
-You don’t have to participate in every argument you’re invited to.
-It’s good to take a break from social media once in a while.
-God is not going to shout over the other voices you allow in your head. If you’re not hearing God or it feels like there is some distance between the two of you, step back from Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat and be quiet so you can hear his voice again.
-Remember who you are. It can become easy to let people online define who you are. Don’t. Listen to the one who made you and cares about you more deeply than anyone else.
As an introvert, I love living in a time where I can meet people online but still be in my home. Some of my best friends I’ve only met online. But just like real life relationships, it’s important to navigate those that fill you or drain you, and recognize those that might be more harmful than helpful in your life.
- Morgan L. Busse, YA fantasy and steampunk author
Remember Who Defines You
Morgan, thank you for those excellent reminders! We all need refreshers on how to handle social media properly, because we so often see it misused and twisted into something less than edifying. But it doesn’t have to be.
Social media can be an outlet for positivity, for creating new relationships we’d never be able to form otherwise, and for encouraging others and learning new things. When it is used this way, social media is a good thing!
Morgan’s words are so important to consider. Think about what defines you. That’s a harder question than we might think. It’s easy to think about the things we want to define us, the things we hope define us. As Christians, we hope we are defined by the gospel, by Christlikeness, by being a nice person or a smart person or a creative person. But try to think about the other things that define us. The things we may not be as happy to admit.
Are we tempted to define ourselves by the number of followers we have? Are we validated by how many people know we exist and like what we share? Are we tempted to define ourselves by the image or aesthetic we portray online? Is that really who we are, or is it who we wish we were or who we think people will like more?
God made you to be you, at your best when reflecting His glory and His hand in creating you. He’s not pleased when we think what He made isn’t good enough, and we try to change it a little to make it “fit” better online or in the world. Remember that. And thank the Lord that He gave you a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind self that only you can use to bring Him glory. No one else will use your unique identity or place in this world the way you can, the way He made you to. And you can use your social media presence to do just that.
Consider Whose Voice Is Loudest
As Morgan aptly stated, God doesn’t shout over the other voices we allow in our heads. His word won’t resound in our minds if we don’t know what it says. If we spend hours on social media every day and only a few minutes in His word every week, which voice will be louder? The voice of the world or the voice of God?
This is something I’ve grown increasingly aware of. We only have so much mental space, and if we stuff it full of worldly voices, there is little room left for God’s word. The problem is, we often don’t think about our mental space as actual real estate. We think it’s fine to sprinkle a few verses over the rest of what we think about in a given week. A verse about contentment sprinkled over 1,000 posts that make us wish we looked different or had different things or went to different vacation spots. A verse about forgiveness sprinkled over threads of online arguments that contain no mercy or grace or compassion at all. A verse about Christ’s sacrifice sprinkled over our TV shows, our online scrolling, our video games, our school work, our sports, our music, and our books.
Is that really enough?
Whose voice is loudest in your head? God’s or the world’s? And if you realize the world is getting a lot of airtime in your mind, what are you going to do about it? Can you decide to open the bible in place of your Instagram, for at least a few minutes, one day a week? Two days a week? Every day?
Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
The benefits, my friend, far outweigh any cost you may fear. If you substitute a few minutes of social media scrolling before bed for a few minutes in the word of God, you will have fed your mind eternal food that fills you instead of drains you.
And the best part about increasing our consumption of God’s word is that it really does start to transform our minds. That way, the next time you see a post that tempts you toward jealousy, you can remember that God provides all our needs and gives us good gifts because He loves us (Matt. 7:11, Eph. 1:3, Phil. 4:19, Jas. 1:17). Or the next time you are tempted to be angry over a post you see, you can remember that we are not supposed to be eager to be angry or let our anger turn into sinful action (Ecc. 7:9, Eph. 4:26). Or the next time you are tempted to post something in order to brag, you can remember that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil. 2:3, Jas. 3:14-16).
Scripture really does begin to transform the way we think. Knowing God’s word really does begin to shape us into Christlikeness. It isn’t just some magic wand that changes us into “good people.” It’s a slow, ongoing process that takes place first in the mind, then in the heart, which spills over into our actions (Luke 6:45). But it takes actually knowing what God’s word says in order to be transformed by it (Rom. 12:2).
Begin today! Take Morgan’s advice and let God’s voice ring loud in your head. Give Him some real estate in your mind. Don’t just let the world fill up your mind; it will certainly try.
If you’re not sure what to read next in the Bible, check out this post that offers a suggestion for you! In this post, I discuss the merits of reading the book of Ephesians, if you haven’t read it yet. Even if you have, this little epistle contains so much to dive into that you could study it for the rest of your life and still learn more.
One more thing, if you’re really going to try to make an effort to increase your awareness of and time in God’s word, consider joining our mailing list and downloading the free ebook of prayers based on the entire book of Ephesians (you can always unsubscribe after, no hard feelings). It gives you a whole month of scripture-based prayers. Prayer is a great way to fill your mind with the transformational power of God’s word. You can put the ebook on your phone and take it everywhere with you, or just read it in the mornings or before bed. Whatever works for you. Of course, it is no replacement for bible study, but I hope it can help you focus on God’s voice instead of the world’s.