“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” (Psalm 139:13–14)
I was a teenager when the big names in social media like Facebook and Instagram were birthed — and like most teens, I was not too hesitant to jump right into something that would allow me to share my life with the world. Then I grew up and graduated, entered the creative industry, and it’s been ten whole years of doing what I know best — sharing the identities and stories of brands, much of it on social media.
In 2015, I was invited to speak at a TEDx session to an auditorium of parents of teenagers about the power of media on our minds. I titled it “The ‘Me’ in Media,” sharing about how it was easy to lose ourselves in a sea of voices telling you how and who you should be, what you should know and believe in. Today, social media is no longer just about following accounts — it’s also about following trends by miming over another person’s voice or mimicking their moves.
The fun has grown with the technology, and the cautions against it, cliché. But the truth still stands: you can lose yourself, or maybe never find out who you are, as an individual, apart from everybody else.
Two 2022 Netflix series based on real-life scammers, “The Tinder Swindler” and “Inventing Anna,” recently topped global viewing charts. Each captivated the world, with the respective stories of Simon Leviev and Anna Delvey, their outrageous identity fraud, and million-dollar scams. To me, one thing stood out about these two: an unbelievable level of delusion about who they were in comparison to who they really were. It was almost as though they believed the lies themselves.
That has to be the most dangerous con — being convinced of a reality that is not quite real. And social media is a hotbed of all sorts of virtual, created realities. Live online longer than you do in the real world, and the lines between them begin to blur.
“Who am I outside of my social media identity?” I ask myself. “Who am I, even, away from everything my friends and family know me as?” But it’s a murky self-examination for anyone. Only the One who crafted the core of our beings knows (Ps 139:13). God knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before they are spoken (139:2, 4). He has every day of our lives laid out and written down (139:16).
We need to step away from the crowd every once in a while, as Jesus often did to seek His Father (Luke 5:16). For us, that includes the great crowd and clamour of voices online. Our secret place with Him is where we can scroll through the infinite feed of His thoughts towards us (Ps 139:17), where we can invite Him to examine our hearts and point out the ways in us that diverge from His ways — that we may live by His reality and not our own (139:23–24).
Looking back, it was through my journey as a writer at Thir.st, an online Christian website and social media platform, from 2016 to 2020, that God really shaped my understanding of who He had made me to be. In my solitary reflections, as I worked on each article, His voice in my quietened spirit gently revealed His truths against the lies I had come to believe of myself. As He had done in my mother’s womb, He made the person I am online with great care and wisdom.
When someone asked me how I had the courage to share my unfiltered, imperfect life with the world, I found myself replying: When you know who you are, you stop being so scared. The “me” in social media has also been fearfully and wonderfully made.
Dear Heavenly Father, I want to walk in Your identity for me, even on social media. Search me and show me where my ways online have fallen short of Your glory. Renew my mind, that I may understand who I am and should be according to how You made me. Amen.
1. How has your online life been? What are you doing, and who are you following? Consider how social media is affecting your life and if it has been beneficial.
2. What would someone who follows you on social media say about you as a Christian? Less than it is about posting “Christian content,” our testimony lies in how we “live” like Christ in the online world. How would you like your online testimony to be?
KNOW THE WORD
Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate His truths on your identity and purpose:
– Psalm 139
– Romans 12:1–3
– Acts 17:24–28
Check out my 2015 TEDx Talk on “The ‘Me’ in Media” here.
And my story of becoming who God made me to be, written when I turned 30.