Social Media / Priorities – part 5

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OK – one last thought on this topic of social media and our priorities. It is an article that I read recently. I think it is important. Please don't read it if you are defensive. Read with an open mind and heart and just pray that God would help you see if it applies to you. It may not. If it doesn't – great…

You can read the original article HERE.

Sooo Grateful for My Awesome Hubbie and Life!

How to avoid the Christian 'humble brag.'

by Lesley Sebek Miller

I woke up before sunrise this past Mother’s Day. The baby and I ate
breakfast together while my husband tried to sleep off his latest chemotherapy treatment.
There were no perfectly wrapped gifts, nor were there any fun plans to
celebrate my first year as a mom. The only person who ate breakfast in
bed was my husband, if Gatorade counts as breakfast. I was fine with
this—at least until logging onto Facebook.

My newsfeed spilled forth updates and photos from excited mom friends.
“Thankful for breakfast in bed!” they said. “I’m so blessed! Hubby got
me an adorable necklace for Mother’s Day!” Suddenly I felt sorry for
myself. I’m certain there were many women—those who have lost mothers,
those who have lost children—who felt the sting even more strongly.

I am, of course, the first to blame for these feelings of inadequacy. I
am a sinner, so I struggle with comparing my life to others’. The
obvious cure for my tendency to compare is to turn off Facebook and turn
to Jesus.

But while I acknowledge it is my responsibility to check my attitude,
every Christian needs to consider that what they share and how they
share can affect people in their online communities.

One way Christians might re-think our posting habits is by evaluating
our words. It has become socially acceptable to use online spaces to
present the good, happy and tidy sides of our life. Sometimes we are
upfront with our boasting, and other times we mask self-congratulatory
sharing with a “humble brag.”

Coined by Harris Wittels, author of Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty,
the “humble brag” is when someone brags about herself but avoids the
social stigma against bragging by couching the announcement in false
humility. Though making an appearance in face-to-face conversations, the
humble brag is most commonly seen in online spaces such as Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, and blogs, all of which breed announcements about
the self.

We American Christians have our own version of the humble brag. Instead
of prefacing our brag with phony humility, we sometimes soften it with
expressions of blessing and gratitude. We want, like everyone else, to
show that our life is good, happy, and exciting, but we also don’t want
to seem self-important. So we append our posts with praise to God. This
is not to say that all online praise is unauthentic—some is, absolutely.
But I suspect that some of our expressions of praise are also motivated
by a desire to display our life in only a positive light.

Guilty as charged. On a recent vacation, I uploaded a sunset photo with
the caption, “Grateful for God’s creation.” I certainly was grateful,
and our Creator deserves such praise. But one primary reason for posting
the photo was to show everyone in my Instagram feed that I was having a
great time in Hawaii. A lot of Christians in my online communities use
this kind of language when sharing exciting moments in their lives,
whether it’s announcing a new baby, a new car, an engagement, or an
exotic vacation.

The question I ask of myself and other Christian social media users is a
question of motive: Am I sharing this news/photo/announcement because I
am truly grateful, or because I feel more accepted, loved, and
important when I talk about it?

“So it comes to motive . . . In our humility, the Christian motive
compels us to be hidden—in Christ. When we attempt to communicate like
the world, be cool like the world, use the same devices to become
popular, are we being extraordinary? Or are we merely rising to the
world’s standard, which goes no farther than self-glorification?” (Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, page 47)

As Christians we have a responsibility to each other to understand how
our actions—including our online sharing—shape those around us:

Our responsibilities as Christian online content creators:


— Thou will question his/her own motives before publishing content. Ask yourself if the content you’re posting is God-glorifying or self-glorifying.

— Thou will praise God privately before praising publicly. If
you witness a beautiful sunset, sit in the moment before turning to your
phone. Sometimes you might realize there’s no one better to share it
with than the Creator himself.

— Thou will post the good and the bad, within reason. There are
natural boundaries for what to share on Facebook, and trying to
articulate pain, grief, sadness, or simply boredom to an online audience
is trickier than uploading photos from a trip to Barbados. Give thought
to how your pictures and words might contribute to healthy community
building.

Our responsibility as Christian consumers of online content:

— Thou will know when to not log in. When I’m going through a
particularly hard time, I usually find it better to connect in person
with those people who know my heart, rather than hundreds of
acquaintances who don’t. Sometimes it’s best to not login to online
networks in the first place.

— Thou will know when to hide users. Most social networks allow
users to hide people from their news stream. If a particular person
continually posts items that incite anger or jealousy, perhaps it would
be best to not view the content in the first place. (The other person
won’t know you’ve hidden them.)

— Thou will check thy attitude. Ask God to help reveal your own heart issues. “Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matt. 20:15).
What are some ways you think Christians can better support one another in online spaces?

Lesley Sebek Miller, a Westmont College graduate, lives in
Sacramento, California. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and
her work has appeared in Relevant Magazine. She is a former social
media director and has a particular fondness for discussing the
intricacies of social etiquette in online communities. She blogs at http://barefooton45th.com.

7 comments
  1. This is perfect. I have felt this so many times. I have had to stop myself from posting something to the effect of “I wish I were a young mom BEFORE FACEBOOK” more than once! I sit at work and surf the net and think I must not be doing a good job because I can’t afford a vacation to Disney World and I’m at work instead of at the zoo with my kids or swimming in the pool or making crafts or any number of other great mom and kid activities. And if it weren’t for social media that jealousy or inadequacy would not be so quick to rear it’s ugly head. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I appreciate your thoughtful blog posts especially the recent social media topics which are good, needed, and challenging for me. Hope your week is going well. See you on Sunday.

  3. John,

    Yes, I agree that may be the case. But I think in those days if someone was bragging every day and all the time at the city gate – those words would become meaningless too – dont you think?  Im not sure Proverbs 31 means that it was done every day, all day, multiple times a day…

    I think it is about balance. If a man thinks his wife is the best and tells everyone – thats cute. If they were fighting the day before when I was counseling them about their marriage – it is pretty disingenuous. If a man brags about his date with his wife and updates his Facebook account ten times, all I can wonder is, If you are loving this date so much – why not focus on her rather than tell us how wonderful it is? It seems to be about image management. Maybe it is just me, but when Im really enjoying a moment – Im not thinking about making sure that others know how much Im enjoying the moment. Theres something that doesnt seem logical about that to me.

    I do believe there are great uses and blessings of Facebook. Im just thinking that there could be a bit more discrimination about usage. And part of the problem is that Im just old. 🙂

  4. I agree with Erin. As a working mom and a divorced mother, it becomes pretty hard (AT TIMES) to feel adequate when moms are posting “my awesome husband this, my great husband that, my kids on vacation, ect. I have to work. Then , as a single mom I have to watch my finances. I can’t afford a vacation yet and I don’t have a husband. I hope if I do anything that makes others feel less than they are someone would love me enough to tell me. Thank you so very much for posting!

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