Your alarm clock goes off, buzzing in your ear. You reach over for your phone before your feet hit the ground. Quick email check shows you that your meeting got moved to lunch. Your notification window reminds you that your son’s PTA meeting is tomorrow evening. After a quick sweep of the business as usual, you quickly click your Facebook to see who else liked the photo you posted of your son batting at his first baseball game last night. A small clinch hits your gut as no one new seemed to like your photo over night. Then you notice Jenny.
Jenny on Facebook looks incredibly fit after having her baby only a few months ago. Then there’s Josh. Josh has over 10,000 followers on his Twitter account and people are retweeting him left and right. Those friends of yours from high school look happily married after all these years. At least that’s what their recent vacation photos look like. You know this because you just “liked” and commented on their album on Facebook. All of these people look like they are happy and they seem like they are pretty awesome. I mean their anniversary vacay album got over 200 likes. So you know what you do? You go back and take a quick look at that vacation album you put up a while back and notice you only got 77 likes. You compare who liked your album to who all liked your friend’s album and before you know it, your five profiles later feeling like crap after you saw who all went to that class reunion without you.
Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t we all know that. In an age when our whole lives can be plastered online for everyone to see and like and approve and comment and congratulate, we are constantly bombarded with the sneaky sense of comparison. I remember reading an article about how someone’s life always looks better on Facebook and no matter how real we try to be online, we’ll never really know the ins and outs of people’s lives through social media. But you know what? I know that. I understand that. And most of the time, I’m pretty good at reminding myself of that truth.
But you know what I struggle with? The likes I receive.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the battle of your mind over how many likes you receive on social media. As a writer, the number of likes or comments you receive can feel paramount to your existence. As a first time mom posting pictures of her sweet little boy’s birthday or the date night you and your hubby finally got, all these life events suddenly become part of an equation that says the more likes you get = the more happy you are.
What really happens when I see that my album got “only” 36 likes? Rejection.
The immediate response was comparison but the result? Pure rejection. The feeling that maybe there were 100 people out there that scrolled past your album and purposefully didn’t like it. The feeling that our worth is somehow measured by the quick click of someone’s finger on their cellphone as they scroll past your photo, when in all reality, they probably never saw the photos to begin with.
Why is it that what seems like a silly little number can completely erase the truth that I have known for as long as I can remember? The truth that says God loved me so much He sent His son to die for me. The truth that says I am a friend of God. You guys, that’s pretty amazing. The Creator of the universe loves me. And He loves you.
Our mind is a battlefield and social media can be a strong contender for devouring our joy. Devouring our self worth. There is no truth that says less likes equals rejection.
Life is not about likes.
Wait. I need to hear this again. Life is not about likes.
I’m tired of always thinking about myself. I want my life to be more than that.
I want my life to be about being in the moment and not thinking about snapping it to post online. I want my life to be about raising my son to know the love of God and to be kind to others.
I want my life to be about loving those closest to me and showing them God’s grace.
I want my life to be about encouraging others in their relationship with God.
The next time I see Jenny’s newest album on Facebook, I will most likely comment on her photo and let her know how great she is, and I will genuinely mean that. But I refuse to be a servant to social media and let it slip into my being to steal my joy. My value isn’t based on the number of likes I get. The thing is, I am a child of God. There are no amount of likes that will ever change that.