What is Social Media Doing to Us?

More Than We May Want to Admit...

What is Social Media Doing to Us-

Red circle with a number inside it. Just visualize it in your mind. You feel better already, don’t you? You feel good. At least I do. And that reality is making me sick inside.

Social media is affecting us. There’s no way around it. And you know it’s true. Why else does your hand randomly grab your phone, raising it to eye level while your thumb magically opens your favorite app to see what’s going on? What is social media doing to us? Time will tell. But my hunch is that, in the end, it’s affecting us more than we want to admit…

What is Social Media Doing to Us?

Social media is affecting our affections. Lauren Sherman, a researcher at UCLA analyzed the effects social media is having on young people. What they found is that when “likes” and “comments” occurred on a picture on Instagram or another social media channel, a person’s nucleus accumbens showed greater activity. Now, what in the world is a nucleus accumbens? It’s an area of the brain that deals with reward circuitry.

David Greene, an NPR host defined it quite simply, “that’s the part of the brain that’s making you feel good about yourself.” And this is quite interesting because we would expect to see, then, social media having a positive effect on our lives. But quite the opposite seems to be true. A 2013 study researching subjective well-being and social media use, said, “The more participants used Facebook, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.”

It appears that something terribly fleeting is shaping our affections. Those little red circles with numbers inside them are teaching our brains that in order to feel good about ourselves, we need to get more of those little numbers inside more of those little red circles.

We’re only beginning to understand the impact that social media is having on us. Social media addiction is a real thing and as time goes on and it becomes more of the norm for more people, it seems the impact will only rise.

The reality is, we are raising an entire generation who will not know life without social media. And they are the first real experiment. For them, social media will be the norm. They won’t be tempted to question it. Unless we begin to.

What is Social Media Doing to Us?

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

And the interesting thing is, many are already doing this. In fact, studies have been occurring for some time, analyzing whether or not social media is creating a new field of behavioral addictions. But I don’t think we really need a study to tell us that social media is addicting. All we have to do is pause for a moment and open the active apps on our phone – likely one of them is a social media app. All we have to do is look in the mirror and see the glare of our screen’s light shining up at us.

For many of us, we have become pawns on the chess board of life, going wherever our notifications tell us to. And the troubling thing is, we already know it. We just don’t know what to do about it.

Our Affections and Worship

For me, this is what it all boils down to. Am I playing with fire by continuing to be active on social media? Am I able to moderate this dragon that seeks my full attention, always? Are the neuro pathways it has laid in my brain unfixable? More than that, are the numbers inside the red circles becoming an idol – my idol?

This isn’t just a laugh-it-off concern. And it isn’t even an alarmist ploy to destroy social media.

What it is, though, is me calling the elephant in the room to the stand of my own heart. It is me doing this out in the open so as to encourage you, my friend, to do the same.

I cannot worship my Lord and King if I am worshipping my own satisfaction.

I cannot run to Jesus if I am running to the latest number-infused red circle.

Social media is affecting my affections. And this is worrisome because I don’t want to serve your “like” of my photo or your “comment” and “share” of this article. I don’t want to. I want to serve and worship the God who loves me while knowing all of me.

My true worship is to offer my body as a living sacrifice to God. To give up my very self to Him, for His glory. And in doing so, my call is not to be conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2).

The question I’m asking myself is this: is my social media use getting in the way of that?

Because if it is, if it really is the dragon that I cannot tame (maybe you can), I must slay it.

From Here…

This article began as an exploration of the question its title bears. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot, but sitting down, researching, and writing has helped me better understand what’s at stake.

Am I going to quit social media? I don’t know. I might need to.

Sola Deo Gloria.

Here’s what I’ve done in the 50 days following this article.

What About You?

Have you been wrestling with your social media use? After seeing what it’s doing, are you going to make a change? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation in the comments below.

Engage Culture With the Gospel

I’d love to go on this journey of following Jesus with you and help you engage culture with the gospel. So let’s be email friends. I’d love to send you a copy of my two free eBooks: Bible Hacks: Understanding the New Testament and Do Something: Cultural Crises and the Gospel. And I’d love to give you my free daily devotional: Journey to Knowing God. You’ll get all this (and updates with new content) when you subscribe to the blog.

Brandon is the Spiritual Development Pastor at The Crossing, a church plant on the east side of Cincinnati. He is the author of Crucified to Life and Preaching Sticky Sermons. His passion is helping people discover hope and transformation in Christ. He & his wife, Sara & their daughters, Kairea & Piper, live on the east side of Cincinnati with their two dogs.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • robert dutina

    Good questions. I use Facebook, but do so for one reason, and that is to maintain interaction with family and a few friends and groups that are important to me. I ignore the politics and memes and diatribes that often litter the site. I unfollow those with agendas and delight in those that simply share what is going on in their lives; people I cannot see everyday. I also check the site once a day-you are right, it can consume you.
    When used for communication it is wonderful, when used instead of interpersonal relationships, it is dangerous.


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