Nov - Dec 2019

Reputation & Identity

Dave Rodriguez

Nov 10, 2019

In February of 2009 social media gave birth to one of its most powerful, influential tools.

o Since Facebook introduced the "Like" button, it has been used more than 1.13 trillion times (Twitter beat the like button by a few years with its favorite button)

o That little like button has an almost direct link into our brains.

o When your post gets more likes than normal you get a little rush? There is a reason for that. Dopamine.

o For every thumbs up or heart we get a little psychological high through a shot of dopamine. The more likes the more shots. The more shots we have, the more shots we want. And we're in a loop.

o Scientists used to think dopamine was responsible for pleasure in the brain, but we now know that rather than create pleasure it makes us seek it.

The social media "like"triggers a reward cycle. The more you get it, the more you want it.

A recent study confirmed the same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are also switched on when we see large numbers of likes.

The "like" or "favorite"phenomena reveals just the hold that social media has on our self-image, our self-esteem, our self-worth. Here's what a couple of survey respondents said:

"Likes are always an indicator of social standing, at my age. As someone who gets anxious and occasionally struggles with self-esteem, the amount of Likes on my posts can be both hugely uplifting or depressing."

"There was a time I uploaded a selfie three times and deleted each one. I thought my hair looked amazing, but the Instagram world clearly didn't agree."

Social media has a mystically powerful influence on our lives. It can slot us in the social standing pecking order.

And it can also breed deep envy.

Northeastern University conducted their own survey about social media envy. Here are some of the reactions from respondents:

"The last time I felt envious on social media was when I saw one of my best friend's posts about her weight loss transformation, I was happy for her, but also jealous because I want to be happy with my body in the same way she was."

"The thing that made me envious was my friend who bought a car. He kept taking pictures of it and putting it on Instagram. It was getting out of hand for me, so I commented "dude stop" and he blocked me shortly after, as if I did something wrong."

That NE Univ research indicated that 2/3 of us regularly experience social media envy.

Social media envy shadows our online lives. It's so pervasive that there is now a thriving academic literature on the connection between social media usage, envy, and depression.

Psychopathological Processes Involved in Social Comparison, Depression, and Envy on Facebook

Exploring the moderating roles of neuroticism, Facebook social comparison and envy

Wow, sounds like serious stuff. From a New York Times article just this past week:

Social media increases the surface area of our vulnerability, extending the range of people we can envy and the ways in which we can envy them. When it isn't homing in on our deepest, most painful hurts, social media envy can inflict a thousand shallow cuts.

Those 1000 emotional paper cuts can have devastating consequences on our self-esteem.

o create anxiety, stress, loneliness, and increased likelihood of depression

o cause problems with friendships and romantic relationships

o seriously impair academic and job performance

o lead to increased vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse

Losing self-esteem or self-worth can send us into a downward emotional spiral that not only make us less productive but activates self-destructive behavior.

So what do we do...burn it all to the ground? No. Social media is here to stay. But we MUST present an alternative narrative to our fragile identities.

That narrative...the real story of you is laid out brilliantly and beautifully in the Word of God. May I paint a better picture of you?

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous, how well I know it. Psalm 139:14

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

This is who you are! No you don't have her body. No you didn't have his vacation. No you didn't get very many likes on your last post. But you are the best of the best...redeemed, loved, beautiful and called to a unique destiny.

I hope that helps some, but I'd like to equip you further how to reprogram your self-worth while llving in our digital world.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

o Growing up I interpreted that as my physical body.

o drinking, dancing, be sexually moral, don't smoke, don't have long hai and don't listen to rock and roll...external behavior.

And there is something to be said about offering our physical lives to God but watch what happens if I modify Verse 1 it just a bit:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your self-image to God because of all he has done for you. Let your self-worth be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Wow, that is poignant isn't it? Imagine taking how you feel about your body, how you feel about your you feel about your you feel about your image...and handing it to God to manage.

o Here God take me as I am, as you made me.

o I give you my ego. It is no longer mine to create. My ego is yours.

o I sacrifice to you my self-esteem...I accept myself as I am and as you see me.

o I will worship you by liking myself. The one you call a masterpiece.

o I lay down my pride. I lay down my self-worth.

And the catalyst that prompts us to do such a thing is in Vs 1 - "all he has done for you."

o His creation of you, his love for you, His redemption of your soul, His calling on your life.

o As an act of worship I say thank you for who I am and I give back to you all the negative stereotypes the world and I have created of myself.

o And in giving back ourselves we implicitly accept ourselves.

This giving of our self-worth to God is as worshipful as a prayer. It is a worshipful as a praise song. It is a worshipful as a tithe.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world,

o Don't conform to the age. Don't play the social media games.

o Stop posing and crafting the perfect shot ...if you want to share your life, do it without added gloss.

o Use likes and comments to bless not to reciprocate or get someone to like you.

o Think twice before you tweet, post on FB or upload your something. Think about the potential impact.

o Remember that every post and like can get into someone else's brain.

We are not of this world. Live on mission. There are enough of us who follow Jesus that we could transform the digital community.

Vs2. but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Social media takes time. And every minute on social media has a profound impact on your brain.

Why not, at least, give equal time to God? We'll address this is a few weeks...

o Give equal time to God, look at your screen time and balance it with God time.

o Fill your brain with the right stuff.

o Do a personal bible journey on self-esteem.

o Post important scripture within eyesight.

o Get a group of friends to share ICNU comments with each other.

o Be a self-worth warrior for others!

And do not ever forget this: Your identity is in Christ; not in likes

Now I want to end our time giving God the space to work on your self-worth.

o Meditate on this question Who am I?

o And perhaps right now would be the chance to hand your self-worth back to God as an act of worship.