A news story surfaced last week about a 19 year old man in Great Britain who became addicted to selfies. He would spend 10 hours a day taking as many as 200 pictures of himself until he could find the perfect one to post. Ultimately, when he realized he could not take the perfect selfie, he tried to kill himself.
In a widely circulated article “Parents, A Word About Instagram”, blogger Sarah Brooks helps parents understand a potential pitfall of the social media phenomenon by saying,
“Have you considered that your child is given numerical values on which to base his or her social standing? For the first time ever your children can determine their “worth” using actual numbers provided by their peers!”
“Let me explain…”
“Your daughter has 139 followers which is 23 less than Jessica, but 56 more than Beau. Your son’s photo had 38 likes which was 14 less than Travis’ photo, but 22 more than Spencer’s.”
“See what I mean? There’s a number attached to them. A ranking.”
Brooks goes on to say
“They’re definitely paying attention. And it’s definitely affecting them.”
“It’s not just about assumed popularity anymore. It’s explicit. It’s quantifiable.”
“At arguably the most awkward time in their lives, a crucial time of development when they are trying to figure out who they are and where they belong, this is what they’re up against. A quantifiable popularity ranking.”
If we lay the worth of our soul upon the altar of public opinion we will find ourselves empty, confused, and eventually destroyed. The young man who was addicted to selfies explains the highs and lows of what Brooks calls “quantifiable popularity.”
“People would comment on them, but children can be cruel. One told me my nose was too big for my face and another picked on my skin. I started taking more and more to try to get the approval of my friends.
“I would be so high when someone wrote something nice but gutted when they wrote something unkind.”
Truth is, you only need one “like.”
In Psalm 16:11 David says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word usually translated “presence” is actually the word “face.”
We don’t need a perfect picture of ourselves. We need a perfect picture of God. Before His face is everything our selfie fails to deliver: a trending future “you make known to me the path of life”, satisfaction “in your presence is fullness of joy”, and something eternally pleasing, “at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
There is something powerful about taking the focus off of ourselves. Negatively, it disarms the false value and potential pain of “quantifiable popularity.” Positively it changes the question. Does God like it? Changing the question changes everything.
The question could be asked of every area of our existence. My attitude, does God like it? The way I act as a student, a parent, a worker, a neighbor . . . does God like it? Is God pleased with the way I act, think, and talk? Ironically, you can’t please people, but believe it or not, there is a way you can become pleasing to God (1 Thess. 4:1).
If we find what God likes, according to Psalm 16:11, something incredible begins to happen. “You make known to me the path of life.” A God who perfectly knows you and the future begins to unleash trends and blessings that could become viral in your life. Instead of trying to please followers and friends, which leads to never ending waves of tossing confusion (Eph. 4:14), we have only one path to consider. We need to please the Lord.
“In your presence there is fullness of joy.” The Bible teaches that God loves for His people to be overjoyed. He is the originator of paradise, the architect of the Promised Land. If you learn to like what God likes you can have your fill of it.
“In your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” There is no version of the selfie that can bring eternal pleasure. This is the truth at which the young man from Great Britain crashed. But we have a God who offers His people everlasting pleasure. If we live to please people we enter into a black hole that will empty the soul. When it comes to “everlasting” there is only one like that ultimately matters.
You only need one like.
If you do not know the Lord as your Savior, repent of the rat race of the sin of quantifiable popularity. Take your soul off of the altar of public opinion and find grace in the God who offered His son for your sin. Be born again today (John 3). You only need one like.