Entering Social Media With An Empty Tank

Like most, I use it to connect.

Being far from my closest friends, social media is a way to stay in touch and share a bit of our lives. Funny moments, cool adventures, and the occasional rant. Or to consume what I think of as high calibre content; thought-provoking articles, posts written by fellow writers, etc.

The problem occurs when in that myriad of interactions and connections, the pictures and words become my measure for performance, validation, or happiness. In my longing for connection, the small squares and short paragraphs become failed mirrors and definitions, which leave a vague feeling of sadness.

Vague because the cause is almost subliminal. Quiet thoughts that run underneath the regular frequency of my day. Undercurrent narratives like I am not as skilled. My life does not look like that and perhaps it should, oh no another thing I am behind! And so on. They are more a general malaise than a clear statement.

I am reminded of these words found in the gospel of Mark: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 ESV.

What most catches my attention here is the wording. It’s informing me that I was made for something, not the other way around. This verse is Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees, who watching him along with the disciples collecting food from a field, question him, presuming they hold the higher moral ground because a rule they know well is not observed.

Jesus’ words are piercing. The nuance between something being made for us vs. us being made for it marks the difference between life-giving and life-draining. How often I behave toward something as if I was made for it. That is a picture of idolatry. If you think you were made for something, your reflex is to work for it, to serve it. When we see something made for us, our attitude is to enjoy it, soak it up, we use it.

His answer makes me think of how we engage social-media. Like other man-made inventions, is a tool that can be useful. The problem is the heart is always looking for ways to fill its emotional tank. Connection morphs into comparison, validation, and so on. I feel empty. I want to connect. Rinse and repeat. This reverses its role of the tool, something made for me to use and instead makes me a dependent, made for it.

We have a maker and we were made for Him.


This post had been on my mind for a long while, but I didn’t feel ready to share. I found inspiration in this piece by fellow writer Carrie Roer. Great tips!

Learning informs my decisions. First from God’s Word, letting it steep deep in my thoughts to rewire them. Also, sound advice backed by solid research. Tony Reinke’s book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You is a resource I can’t recommend enough. Another excellent book on the subject is Andy Crouch’s Techwise Family.

Lastly, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport is a worthwhile read. Heavily researched, the book covers methods to work productively and efficiently in areas that demand focused attention, including writing. I read it in May and I am still chewing on the insights. The chapter on social media alone is worth getting the book.

Paola Barrera
Paola Barrerahttp://wordsoutloud.net
Paola Barrera is a writer and a learner. She blogs at www.wordsoutloud.net about living everyday life with eternal perspective. She and her husband Gustavo live in Montreal, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter  and Instagram.

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