(Photo by Natalie Baugh)
By Maxine O’Loane
It’s no secret that we live in a society where social media and self-edification rule. There’s no point in denying that having an active social media presence is simultaneously just as important as having a social life. This is super important whether you’re invited to the most talked about parties or events where everyone knows your name or have thousands of followers on every platform ranging from Instagram to twitter.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility?” Well, a more modern take might go a little something like this: “The more followers you gain, the more influence you have.” Sounds a little dramatic, right? But, when you take the time to stop and think about it, you’ll be surprised at just how true it is. Think about the last post you liked. Was it the new local hot spot your foodie friend went to over the weekend? Maybe a sunset from your classmates weekend getaway after midterms? Or, and this is where we’re going to camp out for the rest of this article, the third of fourth selfie this week of that girl from your communication class a few semesters ago?
Before I start, I want to reassure you that there is nothing wrong with posting a selfie, when your hair looks great and you finally mastered that perfect cut crease and your winged liner finally matches. Trust me, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been there too. What I want to touch on is when selifes are taken too far, when they become sexual and inappropriate. Here’s a little acronym that pretty much sums up what I mean: Self Edifying Lustful Flirtatious Inappropriate and Exposing.
Earlier I had mentioned the influence or impact that our social media has on not just us but others as well, which is where this all comes in to play. What we post not only affects us but everyone who follows us or sees our posts as well. Sure, if you post an inspiring post or a family picture, that can lighten up someone’s day, but posting a picture of yourself in a short skin-tight dress or a shirtless post gym session selfie [that’s right guys, you’re included in this too] can have just as much of an affect. When you post something like that, think about the comments you’ll get and the kinds of people leaving them. They might not be bad, but take the time to stop and figure out why you’re posting it and who is going to see it. And, taking it a step further, would you be cool if your little sister or even daughter wanted to post something similar, would you be okay with it? If you hesitated in the slightest, then odds are you wouldn’t be. In my opinion, there’s a lot of reasons to avoid posting “sexy selfies”, but the two most important one are that they don’t honor anybody [you or God] and they do more harm than anything.
We never know what people on social media are going through in their personal lives, and we need to be aware that what we post can hurt or cause someone to stumble. Especially other believers, since sexual addiction is something that more people are dealing with than you may know. Which is why something that might not seem provocative or a “big deal” to us might be the one thing that stumbles someone in their walk with the Lord. Sexual sin is no joke, and unfortunately social media, like Instagram, has become a contributing factor to it. If someone’s feed is constantly filled with questionable selfies, pictures, or even videos, then chances are that may be playing a significant part in falling back into their sexual sin.
Not just that, but with today’s culture a lot of our self esteem and insecurities are based on how many likes we get on a picture or the number of comments we get telling us how pretty, cute, sexy, or hot we look in it. We need to be careful of this because if we’re not, we can just as easily stumble and fill our feed with stuff that will motivate people to feed our ego rather than honoring God with our posts. There’s a verse in First Peter that talks about honoring God with our behavior so that, even if we’re accused of doing wrong, people will see our behavior and think otherwise. I think that just about sums up what we should do in both our social lives, in the real world, and on social media. We need to make sure that our behavior and posts focus on bringing honor to God and not ourselves. Now, I’m not saying you can never post another selfie again, but rather ask yourself these questions before hitting that post button:
- Is this self-edifying? (Am I posting it to boost my ego?)
- Is it lustful? (Is it provocative or could it cause someone to stumble?)
- Is it flirtatious? (Will it create a situation where I could be tempted to flirt with someone?)
- Is it intentional? (Why am I posting it?)
- Is it exposing? (Would I be okay if my family saw it?)
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
– 1 Peter 2:12 (NIV)