Turns out, Mark Zuckerberg did more than just provide me with a way to connect to people.
My relationship with Facebook is pretty serious. I eat, sleep and breathe it. Through it, I keep in touch with friends and family back home, I learn about new music, events and other things that interest me, and it has (sadly) become my primary source of news.
I first joined back in 2006. My university program mentor had requested it, saying that it would be the most convenient way to communicate information. I had never even heard of Facebook prior to this. Eight years later, I am now the person who is notorious for flooding people’s news feeds with her obnoxious posts.
Logging into my account has become as regular, if not more, as checking my email and as habitual as brushing my teeth. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up each morning and the last thing I check before I go to sleep at night.
While my situation comes across as extreme to some, my addiction to the popular social medium has taught me some valuable life lessons:
1. You Can Have a Large Friends List But No True Friends.
When I think about all the people I know, I wonder how I could ever be bored or lonely. But a friend isn’t someone you simply made eye contact with once, nor is he someone you only hang out with at parties. A true friend is somebody with whom you’ve established a mutual trust and respect; a person you can confide in and who will support you throughout your trials. She makes you want to be better, not worse. Most importantly, your relationship should bear fruit.
2. You are Not the Sum of Your “Likes.”
Initially, I saw my online activity as nothing more than a fun way to pass the time; an updated version of channel surfing. But as the years progressed, so did the nature of my posts. I began to care less about sharing bits and pieces of my life and more about the attention it would attract. Will it amuse others? Will it impress? Will it stimulate thought?
I quickly became obsessed with the number of “likes” I would receive. They served as mini ego boosts. Consequently, when a post failed to receive the virtually generated thumbs-up, I would feel disappointed. The same thing occurs when we rely on our spouse or our status to fulfil our needs. The truth is, people and things will never truly satisfy us. Our confidence and self-worth should come from God, not the click of a button.
3. Don’t Be so Quick to Overlook the People Who Enter Your Life.
I don’t regularly chat with all 800 of my Facebook friends. However, I do find myself touching base with specific people from time to time. For instance, when I needed help with my laptop I asked someone who I know to be a computer whiz. Similarly, there are times when people have sought my advice on teaching programs knowing that I had previously graduated from Teachers College. While there are obvious individuals we should steer clear of, God certainly places people into our lives for a reason. And He does the same with you for others.
4. Comparing Yourself to Others is Always a Bad Idea.
With the easy access we have to other people’s lives these days, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to those around us. After graduation, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure as I continued to bus tables while my classmates found immediate success in our field of study.
But God created us all differently, and He has a different plan for each of our lives. It does you no good to compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Instead of fixing our eyes on our friends, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. If we don’t, we may very well miss the door He has opened before us because we are too busy staring out the window.
5. I am No Better Than the People I Judge.
It’s easy to judge others when they are so eager to share their entire life with the world. We see their dress, their choices, their lifestyle and we think we know better. But just because a person chooses to broadcast the events in his or her life does not diminish the sin in yours. We are all prone to make mistakes and bad choices, even if we aren’t willing to publicize it. Before we try to take the speck out of someone’s eye, we must be sure to first take the plank out of our own eye.
6. Sometimes, Bad Choices Can Have Positive Results.
If I had penny for every time I thought to myself I should be doing something productive instead of scrolling through my news feed, I wouldn’t have to go to work tomorrow. But sometimes in the midst of procrastinating, I’ll come across an article that will provide me with encouragement or see a video to use in a lesson. Likewise, maybe you’re regretting agreeing to attend your friend’s charity event knowing that you have a huge paper due the following day. But it could also be at that event where you meet your future spouse. Just saying, it could happen. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re faced with deadlines and responsibilities. However, God is faithful and even though you might be wasting your time, God doesn’t waste anything.
7. You and I Were Created for So Much More.
What’s more important: spending hours trying to take the perfect selfie or participating in true community and sharing the Gospel? The answer’s obvious, and yet it’s something I get wrong far too often. When I reflect on how much time I’ve spent obsessing over trivial things—both on and offline—I’m reminded that God did not create us to sit and dwell on our problems. Our time here is limited. Let’s not waste it.
Sarah is a coffee addict and has been writing her whole life. She loves long drives, deep conversations and listening to 90s hip hop. When she isn't daydreaming about her life, she is binge watching TV shows or planning her wedding.