The Consequences of Smartphones & Social Media

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how our society is very bound to technology and attached to our smartphones. Most Christians admit to looking at their phones before doing their devotionals. I’m DEFINITELY guilty of this. In fact, this is something I’ve seriously been struggling with for several years ever since I got my smartphone back in 2014.

Among many other articles, this particular article from Crossway struck me and convicted me to the core. It talked about three reasons people are addicted to digital distraction. Here are some of the points taken from that article that resonated with me.

  1. To keep work away. I really struggle with going on my phone and browsing Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, basically ANYTHING to distract me from doing the work I know I should be doing. This in itself is sinful; I’m wasting the precious time God has given me that I’m meant to glorify Him. Instead, I’m pursuing my own selfish interests and desires for temporary satisfaction. Because I’m constantly clicking away, trying to find things to distract me, it makes it that much harder for me to concentrate and attend to a task, listen to a sermon, or read the Bible .. my mind is always wandering as I’m thinking of other things because of my trained mind to find distractions. This makes it much harder to be in the Word and meditate on Scripture because my mind is always wandering somewhere else.
  2. To keep thoughts of eternity away. I use my phone as an escape from the reality of my sin. When I feel the cringeworthy awkwardness of my fear of man being drawn out, when I’m struggling with loneliness or discontentment, or when I’m tired from a long day at school or work, instead of crying out to God in desperation and prayer, I find that I’ve turned to social media as an escape from the reality of my humanness. I turn to Youtube or Instagram as a temporary band-aid for my sinful nature. Instead of facing my struggle with fear of man in desiring affirmation from others, I mediate my fears with an entertaining viral video. Instead of going to God’s word for comfort when I’m struggling with discontentment, I scroll through Instagram or Facebook to look for something to distract my mind. Instead of praying to God through my tiredness and relying on God to give me the grace to endure each day, I go to Youtube to watch a video because I want to “relax” and escape. This makes me less sensitive to my sin and makes me more reliant on other things to temporarily cover up my sin or act as a “quick-fix” instead of facing sin or things that are hard head on and asking God to help me fight it. As a result, I am less in awe of the gospel and less reliant on God’s grace and the gospel to help me daily. My heart becomes numb to the awe and wonder of the cross.

This is something that I’ve been struggling for a long time. And I think it’s something that took me a while to really reflect on or even admit that it was really affecting me spiritually. But I was really convicted this morning in particular as I was praying on the way to church that I’m ultimately using Instagram to build up my own kingdom and storing up treasures on earth – treasures of affirmation and wanting people to see me as “hip” or “cool” based on my Instagram feed. Rather than using it for God’s glory, except for the occasional post on how God is growing me, I obsess over curating the perfect Instagram feed to portray me as a person who takes cool photos of cool things.

Rather than pointing to Christ – the author and perfector of my faith, my Savior, the King of Kings – I’m pointing to myself. I’m pointing at myself saying, “Look how awesome I am! Look at great my photos are! Look at how hip I am going to all these cool places! Look at ME!” I catch myself thinking about taking the perfect photo of whatever it is I’m doing, whether before eating a meal, when I’m on a hike, or when I’m at a hip coffee shop. I even catch myself doing this when I’m reading my Bible with the perfect cup of coffee and the perfect lighting. I do this before I’ve even done my devotionals. I’m already thinking about how I can post the perfect photo and create a caption with a Bible verse or something about how God is growing me.

If I’m being honest, it’s all for show. Am I really doing these things for God’s glory? Or do I just want to appear to be godly on the outside?

God looks at the HEART. He doesn’t care if I’m only appearing to be doing devotionals and acting godly by highlighting a bunch of verses and writing notes on the side. What matters is my heart motivation. Am I truly desiring to be in the Word? When I post a photo, do I truly hope to encourage others in the faith or share about how I’m learning/growing?

I’ve been so blind to how crippling this has been on my spiritual life! I need to cut it off, before I continue in sin and fall away to Satan’s temptations. I’ve decided to take a break from Instagram. I need to learn to not just try to distract myself when things are difficult and I don’t want to face reality. I need to learn to trust in GOD, the only one who can truly satisfy and bring lasting comfort for my soul.

Lord, help me to not look for virtual affirmation that in the end won’t matter. Help me to not store up treasures on earth or focus on building my own kingdom, but to be ETERNALLY minded and to seek to glorify YOU. You alone are to be praised and worshipped. Having an amazing Instagram feed won’t matter in heaven. Help me to invest in your church, in growing in my faith, and in spending time going deep in your Word and falling in love with who you are, especially during this season of singleness. Help me to steward my time, gifts, and energy in a way that glorifies you. Amen.

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