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Social Students

When I was asked to write an article about college students and their relationship with social media, I was a little stumped. I felt like it was almost a dead end because most people already have their ideas about social media and how "good" or how "bad" it is to those of my generation.

I sat on it a LONG time. Then I decided to sit down and start writing. These are my thoughts. Let's start off jumping in head first!

Social Media is a distraction. DO NOT CLICK AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE! I promise you want to read this. There is a "but" coming! Social media is a distraction. Even in writing this article, I have checked my social media I do not know how many times. It holds us back from doing true work. Work God has called us to do. (Colossians 3:23) More often than not, we treat social media like it is our job. Our number one job most of the time.

I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with students my age that go something like this:

Student: "I have to get on {insert your favorite social media outlet here} and check my streaks/likes/views."

Me: "Why?"

Student: "Because, if I don't I won't know. I just have to."

Me: "Doesn't that make it feel like a job though? To always 'have to' check it when it was just meant to be something fun?"

Student: "I guess." *proceeds to check every social media account for at least the next 15 minutes.

Social media was not created to be a job. I realize now, in today's society that there are literal jobs created around running social media accounts. However, when it started, social media was just meant to share pictures and videos when texting wouldn't allow it. Because of cell phones evolving, social media had to evolve too. Social media is no longer about connecting. It is about being. That is the distraction.

We are so concerned with being present on instagram, snapchat, twitter, facebook, that we lose sight of why we joined it in the first place. Why did you join social media?? Was it to lay in your bed late at night desperately waiting for Bob/Sally to finally like your selfie you posted? Was it because all your friends had it so you wanted it? Was it because you wanted to spend hours editing your photo with the perfect presets so that you can take the photo down if it didn't get more than 140 likes? Or was it because you wanted to share in this fun act of having a photo album with your friends right on your phone?

Whatever the reason was, I would go out on a limb and say that is not why you are on social media now. In some way, your reasoning for joining social media and your reasoning for staying on social media are two different things.

For me, I joined because my friends did. I wanted to be a part of the crowd. I wanted to be social, if you will. When I was in eleventh grade, my reason for staying on social media changed. My social media became somewhat of a journal. My likes went way down. I went from witty captions to heartfelt essays...almost. It is still uncommon of a thing to do. To write out your heart to the abyss of the internet, but it is freeing.

And that brings me to the "but" you have all been waiting for.

Social Media is a TOOL. It is a platform. It is a digital billboard no one has to pay to see, and that billboard has your name and face written all over it. Therefore, what you post and what you look at and like on your account MATTERS.

There are stereotypes that come with being a 21 year old girl in college. Society tells me that, "HEY! You are twenty-FUN now! Do what you want! Go crazy! Post what you want! Live your life! You are only young once!" But as a 21 year old girl in college who is a christian and knows these stereotypes, I have to be conscious about what I post. Even if I am doing nothing wrong, social media never tells the full story. Therefore, I strive to use my social media to point others to the One who created me.

The book of Titus was written by Paul to Titus. In Chapter 3, Paul devotes his time to writing about how we were saved in order to do good.

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone... so that, having been justified by His (meaning Jesus') grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." Titus 3:1-2, 7-8

Social media is a place where people can say anything and everything they want without consequence, so they think. You and I know this not to be true. God calls us to be and do good because Christ died for us. We are not to slander. We are to keep peace and be considerate, gentle towards everyone. That includes Sally who keeps posting about how awesome her boyfriend is and Bob who keeps bragging about his sixteenth trip to the beach this summer. It also includes the 200 ghost followers you have and the person you just lost your 469 day snap streak with.

Social media is a tool to spread positivity and joy about Christ!! Boast in Christ! Use social media to advance the gospel and uplift someone with a nice comment or piece of encouragement on your story!

So, yes. Social media is a distraction. BUT it is also a tool. Social media is deceptive and cruel, but it is also uplifting and encouraging. Really, like anything in life, it is all in how you use it and look at it.

Take a note from the book of Titus 3:14

"Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives."

There is a fine line in social media being a good thing or a bad thing. So, don't live a life that is unproductive, devote yourself to what is good! Don't give in to the distractions of social media and don't be afraid to share your faith with your followers.

Jesus had twelve followers. You have 100 or more. What are you telling your followers?

Author: Joy Grace Webb

Learn more about Joy Grace Webb

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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