For years now, I have been struggling to answer the question that forms the title of this post. It boggles my mind-not only why “they” but why “me.” Why am I so prone to choose virtual connections that aren’t so “social” over real, physical relationships. Recently while driving, it hit me-the primary answer to this very question. The answer is much older than social media; it dates back as far as the origins of the human race. It is discovered amongst the lush landscape of Eden in a hushed conversation between a snake and the naive Adam and Eve:
Ge 3:5 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
There it is. Social media is fundamentally alluring because it appeals to our base desire to be gods! Am I saying that being on “social” is always satanic-no. But…it often is when some “selfie” element of Isaiah 14 creeps into our hearts and minds, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart…I will be like the most High.”
Do you doubt that assertion? According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. When someone experiences something rewarding, or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement. Therefore, the brain rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, making people desire likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions. Notice the following takeaway from this study: Another perpetuating factor of social media addiction is the fact that the reward centers of the brain are most active when people are talking about themselves. In real life, it’s estimated that people talk about themselves around 30 to 40% of the time; however, social media is all about showing off one’s life and accomplishments, so people talk about themselves a staggering 80% of the time!
We can be, by His grace, like God in what theologians call His “moral attributes” i.e. love, grace, mercy justice, holiness, righteousness, truth, and goodness. But we cannot when it comes to His “natural attributes,” that is the very nature of God that is unique to Him and cannot be the characteristics of man either now or even in the future! The problem is that Instagram and all of its little app friends try to convince us otherwise.
Here are those areas where social media tells us we can “be as gods” that we must resist:
God is above His creation. We attempt, through social media filters and selective posts to present our lives as being above the fray and flaws of a very fallen world. We pump out a frequent “high light reel” that contrasts sharply with the real world in which we live and breathe. Or…we allow the airbrushed version of other’s lives to cause us to resent the all-too raw underbelly of our own. You will never, ever “rise above it all” until self-worship is replaced with vertical worship. You are not above it all; there is only One who fills that position and He is in the heavens.
Ps 115:1, 3 “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”
Although God is above all, He has chosen to be actively involved within His creation. Sadly, technology has allowed us to stick our nose into arenas that are none of our God-assigned business. We get involved in a comment-section argument between two or more people that we don’t even know. We weigh in on situations and decisions for which our opinion doesn’t even matter and the outcome will not impact us in any direct manner. Through unchecked habits online, we have been reduced to virtual busybodies working autonomously from a God who is involved in directing and redeeming all things. You were not created to be involved in all things, there is only One who can engage on that many fronts and He is THE Father.
Ep 4:6 “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
While God is intimately involved in our world, He has no beginning or ending. He is not limited by time; we are. Through a perpetually-young profile picture, we attempt to digitally defy the reality that we are finite beings who are aging much more quickly than we let on. This idolatrous tendency also includes staying connected/renewing connections with relationships from our past that largely were meant to end, especially the romantic ones. It is striking to me how many active social media accounts continue to exist for people that I know are deceased. The virtual world pretends that, like God, we too will live forever. Nothing could be further from the truth! There is only One who is eternal and that is our everlasting God.
Ps 90:1-2 “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”
God is not capable of or susceptible to change. We humans are fickle, fickle people. But we attempt to revise in the past where we were wrong with a delete keystroke or convey the “I always knew or felt” as we move into the future. We hide out in our virtual echo chambers where everybody says what we say and feels how we feel…all to deny the likely truth that we actually need to change! The “I have always been true to myself” sentiment is pride pure and simple. Our frequent, impulsive hot takes reveal that there is only One who is unchangingly perfect, and that is the Lord.
Ma 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
God is all-knowing whether is be future or past as well as actual or merely possible. We attempt to manifest this characteristic by claiming to know the intentions and motivations of others based upon only a succinct post or vibe. Foolishly we plow forward with our supposed omniscience and jump to conclusions that are divisive and disingenuous. “In my humble opinion” is more times than not said by those who embody the exact opposite. As several have asserted, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” The problem is social media mandates us to project a know-it-all attitude to keep up. Sadly, there are many who regularly post Scripture or pithy Christian sentiment online but cannot remember the last time they prayerfully meditated in their Bible for any meaningful period of time. There is a painful disconnect between what we claim to know academically, medically, relationally, and even spiritually and what we actually know in God’s sight. (Forgive any overlooked spelling/grammar errors in this post from less-than-omniscient author.) The truth is there is only One who truly knows all things, and it’s not any of us. It’s Him, the God who is unsearchable.
Ro 11:33-34 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?”
God is everywhere present in the universe in the whole of His being. As one author put it, “There is nowhere in the universe that you can go that God has not already been.” Our news feeds have convinced us that access to anywhere and anyone at anytime in not only possible but normal. Nothing is producing more anxiety in our hearts today than the pervasive attempt to process crisis and heartache that is not even occurring in our hemisphere. It used to be “knowing your place” was viewed as a virtue, but now it is frequently labeled “small minded” or “out of touch.” To fight against staying within the bounds of the time and place where God has providentially placed us is to outpace the grace that He provides. There is only One who can and should be in all places at once, and that is God who fills heaven and earth.
1 Ki 18:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
God is all-powerful and is able to do whatever He wills to do. While many of them are sincere, the push-up and ice-bucket type initiatives convince us that we can solve any problem if just enough of us digitally-connected people come together. There is a myriad of challenges that even our collective willpower cannot overcome. We cannot crowd-source our way out of the devastating effects of sin and rebellion against God. Worship of man’s abilities is what got us into this mess, and it will never get us out! As the ultimate battle between upstart man and our God will one day reveal, there is only One who has the power to rule it all and that is the Lamb.
Re 19:6 “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
As if all the above were not enough, God has no limitation in space. All of His attributes are without limit. “To infinity”-this is the incomprehensible scale of God’s natural attributes with which our social media activity attempts to feebly compete. Yes, we may have a flash of genius or power, but we cannot sustain it…as much as we try every time we post and opine online. That exhausted feeling you have as you jump online for the umpteenth time today is God’s still small voice reminding you, “You can’t be me. Stop trying!” Will you listen? As your overexposed, depleted soul can attest, there is only One who can BE GOD without wearing down or wearing out and that is THE endless, matchless Sovereign.
Is 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
With over 2.7 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020, Facebook is the biggest social network worldwide. But…no matter how many billion of us team up, we can never attain deity or the autonomy and worship it receives. Would you join me in rejecting what is often a modern-day tower of Babel and ask the Lord for wisdom on how to manage it in a way that emphasizes that He is the one, true God? As one writer recently posted, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook (add your other social media platform of choice) will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” May THE LORD help us to steward the finite window of time that He has allocated to us with less idolatry and more worship OF HIM!