There’s More to Likes

I know I’ve started another post in a similar fashion before, but If you post a selfie and no one likes it, was it ever even posted?

It comes as no surprise that this generation is just a little bit addicted to their smartphones. And why wouldn’t we be? They’re a computer, camera, TV, and gaming system all in one, and they’re a lifesaver when you find yourself roped into going out with a bunch of people you don’t know. Sure you end up scrolling down the same social media feed a hundred times, but at least it saves you from being super duper awkward for a moment.

Speaking of social media, it has its ups and downs. While it helps us connect to faraway family and friends, studies have shown social media is a major contributor to depression. As the likes trickle in from those selfies we’ve posted, dishes we’ve made, or jokes we’ve been trying out, we get a little shock of dopamine with each “ding”! This can become addicting very quickly, and soon we find ourselves posting daily, even multiple times a day, hoping for more reactions and more hits of feel-good chemicals. However, if the next day our post only gets a fraction of the response, we feel our self-worth begin to drop and plummet when each subsequent post has fewer reactions.

As human beings, even the most introverted of lone wolves have some desire to be liked by others, to belong. Part of this longing for belonging is to seek validation from our group of friends and/or family. If we don’t have this validation, it can lead to feelings of emptiness and depression.

While it is healthy to have encouragement and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our teachers, supervisors, etc, we have to make sure we aren’t trying to fill a larger need with things that couldn’t possibly stack up.

With this year marking a decade since I’ve graduated from high school, it seems a good third of my classmates have gotten married and had children. Multiple times a day, I see post after post of baby pictures with literally hundreds of likes. Even my relatives can often amass at least half of that with several posts of nearly the same shot of their little ones propped up in the grass. But my carefully edited portraits and boomerangs of my son, husband, and I at the lake only manage about 10, if that. How does that happen?

More importantly, why do I care?

Isaiah 2:22 says, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” This obsession with what other people think of the snapshots from our everyday lives only leads to temporary highs when we get a lot of reacts, and too-long lasting lows when they seem to go unseen. But I think we all know there’s someone who doesn’t need a phone to see everything we do, whose approval means a whole lot more than even a thousand retweets.

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” Says John 5:44. With the ability to reach literally hundreds in our pocket, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the constant battle for attention, but when we’re so absorbed in trying to get the approval of others, we take time away from bettering ourselves in the name of God. We can’t be self-serving and serve God at the same time.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with sharing that cute picture of your niece or nephew, or that expertly angled shot of your slushie. After all, we’ve established social media is a wonderful way to connect with colleagues, family, and friends who would probably love to see them. Just remember, even if they don’t get as many likes as posts from your old classmate, all validation is temporary. Remember to put the phone down once in a while, because there’s an immensely more meaningful validation out there, no Wi-Fi or data required.

Melissa Ruiz

Old Millenial, Batman and Star Wars fan, Freelancer, New England Grrl, Mom, Christian, Geek.

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