Digital creator STEPHANIE PHUA explores how we can keep Christ at the centre of our social media use.
There’s a lot I don’t like about social media, so I’ll admit it: when God called me to work in the social media space, I was a little upset. And annoyed. Maybe more than a little.
For a bit of context on my career — I run an advertising agency that focuses on creating content on social media. As the years have gone by, I have had more and more experience creating content both on my personal platform and for my clients. But the truth is that some days, I struggle to find meaning and purpose on social media.
It has been an interesting journey, especially as someone who was born into a world where the Internet hadn’t existed yet. The convenience of access to the interwebs now has thrust our generation into having to navigate a whole new world. It’s scary that a channel that reflects our identity and makes it accessible to the rest of the world is so easily available through a smartphone that exists in our pockets.
THE BEST THING THAT I CAN DO IS TO FOLLOW JESUS. EVEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Taking a look around every time I step into a public space, especially on public transport, it wouldn’t be surprising to see people glued to their screens scrolling through one of the many social media platforms — TikTok, YouTube or Instagram. It often amazes me how much has changed!
Being an introvert and someone who enjoys deeper conversations with people IRL, and who is disinclined to broadcast my life on social, I’ve had to press in deep on what it means to navigate this space as a believer. As I’ve journeyed through this, I have come to realise that just as with any aspect of my life, the best thing that I can do is to follow Jesus. Even on social media.
DON’T FORGET YOUR IDENTITY
Social media has a way of trying to rob you of your identity and redefining it. The Internet says you’ll be more ‘liked’ if you take nice photos, edit them well, have flawless skin, and do a mean TikTok dance. You’ll get more attention if you have an opinion that is loud, strong, and divisive. You’ll be more accepted if you share the sentiments of the echo chamber.
It’s easy to get swept up and link your identity too closely to the numbers online; it is crucial to have the discipline to remind yourself where your identity lies. You are a daughter of Christ. You are loved, you are chosen, you are redeemed — no matter how many followers you have on your platform.
As we are called to be salt and light in a world that needs them to taste and see the goodness of God (Matt 5:13–16), you are an influencer no matter how many or few followers you have. There is no need to chase numbers. There is no need for likes to validate you. See yourself how God sees you, not through the lens of others.
Your Father loves you for who you are and it is He who has also given you this platform for your voice to be heard Because of its proliferation, social media is a powerful channel that can be used for outreach, which leads me to the next point — that it’s crucial that we see it as a gift that should be stewarded well.
STEWARD IT WELL
Jesus says in Matthew 5:15 that nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl: “instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” In the same vein, I do believe that social media can be a “stand” we can leverage to give light to those around us, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I used to take to Instagram stories as an outlet for my emotions: if I was tired, feeling angsty or annoyed in general, it was an easy way for me to rant to others, get validation from my friends, and move on with life. It took a fellow believer to point out that my social media platform should be treated as a sacred space, especially so if I felt called to
YOU ARE AN INFLUENCER NO MATTER HOW MANY OR FEW FOLLOWERS YOU HAVE.
ministry in this space. Were we not called to “do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Phil 2:14)? If I aired such emotions on my public platform in such a self-centred and negative way, was I painting a positive picture of what a Christian should be?
WHAT WOULD JESUS POST? DOES WHAT YOU POST GLORIFY GOD?
That made me a lot more intentional about the content I was posting. To ensure that what I’m posting sets a good example of Christian living, I’ve set certain guardrails to examine the condition of my heart — a heart check, if you will — before posting anything, anywhere:
- Why are you posting? For connection? Affirmation? Pride?
- What has God called you to steward in this space? What topics should you lend your voice to?
- What would Jesus post? Does what you post glorify God?
- How can you love others through this channel?
- How can we amplify the truth of what we know through this channel? Is it always right to keep quiet about certain topics? Count the cost of speaking up or staying silent.
Proverb 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Let’s get real — social media is one of the distractions that has easiest access to your heart. What is it you reach for, first thing in the morning? When both the Word of God and Instagram exist on the same device, I’ll be honest in admitting that I often struggle to choose the Bible over social media. Beyond time spent idling on the platforms, another way the enemy could rob us of quality time with our Father would be getting us to be invested in the lives of influencers or celebrities. Here’s a great question to consider: should you be limiting your screen time so that you don’t allow these things to become idols? Create your own boundaries for when, where, and how long you use social media, so that you can choose to guard your heart with the wisdom of God.
Just as I had to learn that there should not be any distinction between my identity at church and my identity elsewhere, living authentically in Christ means that there should also not be any distinction between my identity online and my identity offline.
In a space that glorifies appearances and champions cancelling, we need to be a generation that dares to be counter-cultural, so that others can experience the goodness of God through our channels.
Let us commit to staying in step with God as we journey through life and learn about our identities, our unique voices, and our callings. Let us live our lives authentically in Christ, no matter where we find ourselves — in our homes, workplaces, churches, on social media, the metaverse, and beyond.