Today’s article is a continuation from yesterday’s post. In this post, Dr. MacArthur cautions believers against using social media to foster sins of pride and self-promotion.
Putting the ME in Media
If there is one word that perhaps best describes social media it is this: self-promotion. The narcissism fostered by status updates and tweets is undeniable. And cultural critics have taken notice.
Some respond with humor. A few see it as a good thing. Others are concerned that social media is ramping up society’s psychological maladies—like Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (Of course, what psychologists label “NPD” the Bible calls the sin of pride.)
Even the majority of social media users admit that self-promotion is at its core: “A national study fresh out of SDSU is confirming that Generation Y really is Generation Me. The jaw-dropping conclusion? 57% of young people believe their generation uses social networking sites for self-promotion, narcissism and attention seeking.” (Source)
In the words of one British journalist:
The Me-Man is everywhere. And so is the Me-Woman. They are the millions of men and women . . . from every class, age and profession who want to talk about themselves, expose themselves, and promote themselves in glorious and often gory detail. . . . They blog and bleat and tweet and text you all the time. The medium may vary, but the message is always the same: Me. “Me, Me, Me!” (Source)
Dr. Lauren LaPorta, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s, sees the popularity of social networking sites as a direct result of the growing narcissism in American culture (due largely to the self-esteem movement of the 90s). Writing for the Psychiatric Times, she observes,
It is my contention that these sites would not have risen to such prominence but for the fact that a generation of narcissists needed an outlet. The millennial generation needed a way to assert their uniqueness, their specialness and garner the attention and praise of the masses. Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter filled the bill.” (Source)
But the me-centered world of social media is clearly at odds with the biblical call to humility and selflessness. Consider just a brief sampling of relevant Scripture passages on this subject:
Proverbs 16:18—“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Proverbs 27:2—“Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Proverbs 30:2—“If you have been foolish in exalting yourself . . . put your hand over your mouth.”
Isaiah 66:2—“‘To this one I [the LORD] will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’”
Matthew 23:11–12—“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Philippians 2:3–5—“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. . . . Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
To these, a host of other passages could be added. All of them make the same point: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
When so much about social media panders to pride and shameless self-exaltation, believers need to think about their motives before they jump on the bandwagon. If the goal is simply popularity or personal promotion, it’s time to do a heart check.
Our celebrity-driven culture craves for notoriety. But Christians are called to be different. We have died to ourselves. Thus, our concern should not be, “How many people can I get to follow me?” but rather, “How can I bear witness to the wonder of following Christ?”
(This article will be concluded tomorrow.)