We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted by the people around us. We all want to find our greater purpose in this life. We all want to have meaning. We all want to matter, and we all want to matter to someone. But one of the great flaws of this world is that a lot of the time we fail to feel like that. Instead of feeling like we matter, or that we’ve made someone else’s lives better because of our own; we feel like no one notices us. We feel like nothing we do could ever fill the hole that is inside of us. That hole that yearns for validation. That longs to be filled with love and acceptance.
Social media only perpetuates this feeling of loneliness. As we scroll through our Instagram and Facebook feeds we see people with seemingly perfect lives, and when our lives don’t measure up we get disheartened. We look for ways to make our lives as great and grand as theirs. We fixate on the amount of “likes” and follows our posts get. We become so obsessed with getting more and more “likes” and more and more followers that our whole world revolves around what total strangers think of us. This endless pursuit of validation drains us physically and emotionally. We try to shape our lives into the perfect Instagram lives, we begin to focus more on the perfect camera angle than what we’re taking the picture of.
Research shows that when we receive a “like” on social media, the brain circuits and dopamine responses that occur are the same as the ones given off by eating chocolate or winning a lot of money. We begin to crave this dopamine release, and slowly over time, it becomes an addiction. One that robs our lives of the joy of living, and replaces it with a compulsive need to acquire outside approval. I for one know that I’m guilty of this type of thinking. I get so focused on how many people are “liking” my pictures, and reading my posts that I start to lose sight of why I’m writing in the first place. Not only that, but I got so invested in what complete strangers think of me that I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
I became obsessed with the number of “likes” and comments that my posts got. And by obsessed, I mean that whenever I posted I had to check my feeds every hour to see if anyone else had “liked” my picture or followed me. It was when I began to recognise that behaviour for what it was – an addiction – that I knew that I had to make a change. I had to somehow detach my self-worth from the validation and approval of strangers. Our worth is not found in the number of “likes” that we get, our worth is found in our identity in Christ. We could never be filled by something as fickle as social media, or as fluid as the follower count on our Instagram.
We need to seek first the love and approval of God before we try to gain it from man. If all we’re doing is trying to please man, then we will never be able to achieve that feeling of wholeness and completeness, because you can never please man. No matter what there will always be someone who disagrees with you, so why bother trying to make everyone happy? Why should we waste precious hours of our days checking our social media stats, when we could be using that time to further the kingdom of God?
My worth is not defined by the number of “likes” and comments that sit below my posts or the number of followers at the top of my page. Your worth is not defined by the number of people that like you, both in real life and online. Our worth is found and perfected in God’s reckless love for us. So rather than living in a constant state of obsessing over and trying to garner the approval of strangers, let’s accept the approval and love of God, no strings attached.