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5 Signs Your Social Media Has Become an Idol

By: Kristen Clark

My alarm goes off. I rub my tired eyes not wanting to wake up. I roll over in bed and reach toward my nightstand in the dark. It’s here somewhere….oh — got it.

I grab my phone and unplug it from the annoyingly short charger cord. The bright light from my phone half blinds my sleepy eyes. But I’m determined. I must…check…my…social media. Half asleep, I begin scanning the latest posts and comments. Like a robot set on repeat, this routine becomes the default for my mornings.

Sound familiar to you?

I am embarrassed to say that this pitiful scene has been the default method for many of my mornings. Checking my social media first thing has become a habit that I am constantly fighting against. I don’t want my phone to be my first thought each morning.

I don’t want to treasure (i.e. idolize) my social media above all else. 

I want God’s Word to be my first go-to. I want prayer and peaceful quietness to be the first thing in my day. Quiet mornings with God’s Word in hand can’t be beaten. With life being so crazy, we all need those early morning moments to meet with God.

We each need to practice what Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Like me, you might need to take a moment to reevaluate your social media habits. What is your first thought when you wake up? What do you spend your spare “moments” doing?

To help you discover if you’re idolizing your social media like I tend to do, see how you measure up to these 5 signs.

5  possible signs that social media has become an idol in your life:

1. You check social media first thing in the morning.

You wake up from a good night’s sleep. Another great day. Before you even roll out of bed you glance over to your nightstand. There it is. You get your morning stretch in by reaching for your fully charged phone. Without even thinking you open up your social media apps. You catch up on latest since you went to bed last night. You browse every photo until you’re completely caught up. Ahhhh… now you can start your day.

2. You browse the social media feed every moment you have “downtime” throughout your day.

About an hour after you wake up you feel another urge to check social media. I mean C’mon. It’s been 60 minutes…a lot has probably happened. You browse the photo and status feed every break you have throughout your day. You hate the feeling of missing out on something. Whether you’re in the car sitting at a stoplight, waiting in-between classes, walking into the grocery store, sitting at lunch, etc. you find yourself on social media.

3. You post multiple photos a day. Many of them selfies.

“What do you think of my new hairdo?” “Hitting up the gym!” “Starbucks stop…love my latte!” “Sad face because it’s Monday.” “Throwback Thursday!” “Selfie Friday!” “Sassy face Saturday!” etc. Posting selfies throughout the day has become a regular routine. Now (to be clear), there’s nothing inherently sinful about posting a fun picture of yourself. What I’m talking about are the constant selfies that come from a heart motive of pride and a longing for the attention and approval from others. When your Instagram feed becomes a personal portfolio, that’s a sign that you may be idolizing yourself and your online platform a little too much.

4. You upload a photo… then you check your phone every 3 minutes to see how many “likes” you’re getting.

You snap that perfect selfie, choose the filter that makes your skin look flawless, do some heavy editing, add a catchy title, and hashtag some funny lines. Then you wait. You wait and you check. You check and wait. The likes start coming in. A smile forms. Then someone popular likes your photo. You smile even bigger. You continue checking your phone every few minutes until your photo loses it’s steam. You take a mental note of your total “likes” and secretly hope to get more next time.

5. If you’re unable to access your social media for a long period of time you feel totally “disconnected.”

You’re on a road trip and lose cell signal. You’re in a class and can’t use your phone. You accidentally leave your phone at home for an entire day. You’re on an airplane with zero internet access. You can’t access any of your social media sites. You feel a sense of loss…a sense of disconnection. What’s going on in the world while you’re away? You feel anxious about losing access to your apps. You count the minutes down until you will once again access Instagram.

So…how’d ya do? 

How did you measure up against those 5 signs? Could you relate to some of them? If so, I’m sure you wondered how I read your mind. I read your mind because I read my mind. I regularly struggle with many of those 5 signs as well.

Technology is a great tool, but can easily become a great trap if we’re not careful. What started out as a fun photo sharing program can easily turn into a major idol, time waster and an avenue for prideful broadcasting.

If you find yourself idolizing your social media apps, I have two helpful tips for you. These tips are what helped me shift my perspective and heart with my apps.

1. Check your heart. 

Social media is an extremely tempting platform for idolatry and pride to flourish. Ask yourself the why questions. Why do you post so many selfies? Why do you crave more likes? Why do you envy people with more followers than you? For most of us it comes down to a idolatry and pride. We’re looking to someone or something else for our identity. We’ve idolized the praise, approval, and affirmation of others and it’s ruling our lives. We unknowingly base our worth and value on how much our “friends” like us.

The best way to overcome these issues is to recognize our prideful heart and confess it to God.

Proverbs 11:12 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.”

We will never feel totally secure and fulfilled until we focus on pleasing God and living for His glory alone (Matt. 6:33). We will never stop seeking praise and compliments from others until we worship and value Christ above all else.

2. Set up boundaries.

If you want to lose weight, you go on a diet. If you want to get fit, you start exercising. If you want to pass a hard test, you study. If you want to keep your social media in check, you examine your heart and set up boundaries.

Time is precious. You only have so much time as a young woman. Don’t waste it! Don’t waste hours, and hours, and hours on social media. I’ve been there and it’s not worth it in the end. You have nothing profitable to show for it.

The best way to keep your apps in check is to set up firm boundaries for yourself and then ask someone to hold you accountable. A friend of mine recently shared how she committed to only getting on Instagram once a day. That’s it. No more. Maybe less.

It was really haaaaard for her at first. But now it’s easy. She broke her bad habits and now uses her extra time for profitable, productive things.

Social media is a tool that can be used for good or for evil in our lives. 

I encourage you to take some time to examine your heart before the Lord regarding your social media use. Ask Him to reveal any idols or prideful motives. Then, take some time to pray and come up with a helpful plan of action for keeping your social media in check.

I’d love to hear from you below!

  • Do you find your identity and worth in what your online “friends” think of you?
  • How much time are you spending on social media apps each day?
  • What kind of technology boundaries can you set up in your life?

PS One of the breakout sessions at the 2019 GirlDefined Conference is called, “Using Social Media in a God-Honoring Way.” This session along with many others will equip you to become a woman who chases truth in every area of her life. I hope you’ll join us this August! For more details, click here. 

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2021 Conference
Radical Purity
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