Challenges, Follows, and Likes…Oh My!

(Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter)

Challenges, Follows, and Likes…Oh My!

By Keni Kirkwood

Whether in terms of love or loathing, we spend a lot of time talking about (and using) social media. We use words like “craze,” “inspiration,” and “addiction” to describe this complicated relationship. Some use it as a ministry, while others claim it’s the root of all problems from laziness to depression. So, which is it?

See, social media itself is neither good nor evil; it’s all in what you do with it. I think the reason for these tangled relations is that we are beings of big feelings. None of us are immune to the promises whispered by Instagram or TikTok. We were made with voids; as a result, it’s easy to get wrapped up in likes and follower counts, while also going down the wrong paths. In the end, we just really want love.

Do you ever hold your breath when you post something, hoping it’ll get “enough” likes? I have. Ever check your follower count at 2AM? Been there. The real question is why let a number define us? I want to challenge you to let your true identity reinvent your social media life.

You are God’s personal treasure and valued beyond compare. I mean, heaven’s King died for you. In Psalm 147:4, it says, “He counts the stars and calls them all by name” (NLT). So, if you are loved by the One who numbers stars, then no human “like” could ever compare. When you’re free from what others expect of you, you’ll see the only “follow” that truly matters in your life: being a follower of Jesus.

As you seek The One who chases your heart, a new purpose emerges. We are actually called to gain followers, but not for us. We’re called to draw others to Jesus. After all, if we’d share our favorite makeup brand with our friends, wouldn’t we want to share a love without condition?

When we realize others are equally valued by God, it’ll change the way we relate online. We should use the content we put out to build each other up. We do this with positive comments and encouraging posts while challenging each other to be our best selves.

Speaking of challenges . . . I’m sure you’ve seen those online empowerment challenges where you “nominate” someone, and they tag however many other people to post something inspiring in theme with the challenge. Usually, this includes a beautiful and supportive hashtag. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I tend to think so. As someone who was “tagged” in one of the recent female empowerment challenges, I felt so honored to see the notification in my inbox. I was excited to join the party and took joy in crafting messages to ten of my friends telling them just why I think they’re beautiful and strong.

That’s not everyone’s story, however. I hadn’t even thought of the feelings of girls who weren’t tagged. It’s easy to see an empty inbox as a message itself: “you’re not wanted,” but that is a lie and one that brings us back to my earlier point. You are wanted by Jesus, the King of heaven, yes, but also King of misfits like us. He tells you that you’re beautiful and strong every day. Understanding your worth means that you can smile to yourself, knowing you don’t need someone else to tell you how amazing you are.

This got me thinking, these challenges come from wonderful sentiments. No one starts a beauty challenge with the idea of hurting their friends. So how can we get the right meaning out there? I say, why do we need a challenge to remind us to tell others they’re beautiful? Let’s just tell them.

Ironically, I think this is a challenge to us to not be confined by any specific occasion but to empower each other every day with the love of Christ. At the end of the day, social media is a lot like the land of Oz. We’re surrounded by wonders galore, but behind the curtain, all we’ll find is broken people like us. It takes brains, heart, and courage to navigate this labyrinth. Ultimately, our job is to light the way home to the arms of Jesus, to the Kingdom of Radical Love. When you put it that way, Dorothy was right . . . there’s really no place like home. That’s all we need.