Technology has exposed us to some of the most amazing inventions that have changed the way we communicate and manage our daily lives. One of the most impactful technological inventions of the 21st century is social media. The rise of social media has led to a new ‘global’ reality—which allows us to connect with others from all over the world without the need for in-person interaction. This has opened the door for massive audience exposure—-where individuals and businesses alike can compete for a global following by using social media platforms to gain ‘followers,’ ‘likes,’ ‘shares,’ and subscribers. With this, developing a large social media following can often lead to attractive social and monetary perks, such as gaining rapid popularity, or being offered lucrative sponsorship deals from major brands. Although being ‘liked’ by a massive audience seems like the ultimate goal for many aspiring social media influencers, bloggers, video content creators, artists, models, small business owners, etc., there comes a time when one must ask whether being ‘liked’ is worth sacrificing one’s values for social media fame and acceptance.
Why is social acceptance important?
Wanting to be socially accepted by others is a part of human nature. Oftentimes, we want people to like us because it creates a sense of belonging with those who share similar interests, values, beliefs or cultural norms. In other words, social acceptance brings a sense of security that ‘everyone is like me and I am like them.’ Without having this ‘we-feeling’ with those around us, we may often find ourselves feeling disliked, isolated, or at worse, unworthy of companionship. Thus, many people have the tendency to lean on worldly validation to maintain relationships and avoid opposition.
Social media fame and morality
Social media fame is the ultimate reality of widespread social acceptance, when followers or admirers consider your talent, personality, product or service worthy to be ‘liked.’ Indeed, some of the most successful social media influencers have managed to gain approximately 10+million followers/subscribers across multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. In fact, several top influencers have earned millions of dollars in revenue from brand sponsorships, TV gigs and product development deals. This not only means that one has the potential to gain massive exposure, but it can also mean a promising career with access to financial success. So as one can see, the idea of social media fame can become very attractive to a struggling blogger or small business owner who strives to make him or herself known to the masses.
The problem with social media fame is the temptation to bend one’s personal values or beliefs just to get online/TV exposure, or to score a major brand deal. As a blogger, artist, professional or small business owner, there is more at stake than just not ‘fitting in’ or feeling isolated—it’s the scary idea that ‘no one will support my brand or buy my products/services.’ When people like or relate to your brand or product, there is a greater chance that one will obtain financial stability and recognition from other prominent brands or personalities. Surely, having a loyal following that supports whatever it is that you do can be very tempting because it helps boost one’s opportunities for success. However, this can cause one to seek after social media fame at the expense of maintaining a relationship with God:
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?Luke 24-25 KJV
Are you willing to throw away your values just to keep your followers from unsubscribing or leaving negative comments? Are you afraid of losing that big sponsorship deal if you reveal to the world that you are a follower of Christ? Some may feel that they have to compromise their beliefs or denounce their Faith just to satisfy the demands of the public. When one obtains social media fame, it may become difficult to stay on course with God’s Word because the world wants you to conform to what it deems socially acceptable —-which may not be acceptable to God.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12: 2 NIV
Truly, the more we seek after validation and fame, the more we fall into the trap of pride, which tells us that ‘we deserve all of the glory,’ not God. In the end, it’s not worth being ‘liked’ by the world if what we say or do will displease God.
Whether one is a blogger or small business owner, there will come a time when one must choose between being socially accepted and being in the will of God. Naturally, many of us want the world to support our talents, ideas, inventions, etc. because it is how we can sustain ourselves socially and financially. We want to be liked for who we are and what we do, as it gives us confidence in our abilities to achieve our goals. But, we must remember that the greatest reward comes to those who seek God’s glory—-not material things, riches and fame. Although one can suddenly become a viral social media sensation without notice, it is important to hold onto one’s personal values in order to avoid losing oneself to the destructive ways of the world.