Just in case you don’t hang out with teenagers or scour urban dictionary to keep up with the latest slang, “gram” is short for Instagram. Now you know. The more you know the more you grow.
Last week a video showed up several times in my newsfeed that really made me laugh. So hard. Out loud. It was a satire about Christian girls and Instagram. It spoke the language of my tribe. Sarcasm. Satire. So I did what you’re supposed to do when something you see on Facebook makes you laugh…I shared it.
Only then I started having all kinds of conflicting thoughts about that video. Mostly because I had just read this article about how teenage girls are using Instagram. Yes the video is funny. Very funny. But in the middle of the funny lies some serious truth about our motivations for engaging on social media. And I’m mom to a teenage girl who uses Instagram. So this is something I think about often.
For now, I can say that I truly love to watch the way my girl chooses to use Instagram. All of the “hidden ways” that I should be watching for do not exist in her feed. But I’m also not too ignorant to think that couldn’t change.
I love Instagram. I use it a lot. I have a few favorite hashtags and I totally use them to engage (or shamelessly promote) with the people who have chosen to follow me. I post a verse or quote once in a while because it means something to me, or I think it’s going to mean something to someone else. I also post pictures of my cats because my children rarely let me share photos of them anymore. (Have no fear. I take them. I just don’t gram them.) So I am in no way against sharing your faith via social media along with all the pictures of cats, dogs, children, coffee and food. It’s a powerful platform. Use it!
On Instagram, I follow a group of Christian women who, lovingly and with great passion and sincerity, share their quiet time on Instagram under the project hashtag #SheReadsTruth. I think it’s an amazing way to engage and start beautiful conversations on a social media platform. I love their insight. Their work is beautiful.
I also follow teenagers who will post a goofy selfie with a totally unrelated Bible verse as the photo’s only description and hashtag the heck out of it. I don’t understand it, but I also don’t know their thought processes that go behind it, so I’m not going to judge. Scratch my head? Well…yes. I don’t get it. But I’m also almost 40 and they are 15. Let’s just chalk it up to the fact that I’m turning into an old fogey. I’m down with that.
Some people use Instagram to document huge portions of their daily lives, from their morning coffee and laundry mountains (I’ve done both) to their ugly toes (because all toes are ugly, right? and yes, I’m guilty of that one, too.) peeking out at their family vacations. It’s a form of self-expression, or creating and art, just like typing words into a blog post or painting a picture or scrapbooking.
It’s our right to express ourselves freely on social media. I’m so thankful to be able to connect with others this way. Aren’t you?
But after taking a few minutes to consider that video and article, I’m reminded that the “why” is something that only the person who posted that picture or updated that status will truly ever know. I can have an opinion about what that might be, but the truth is only they will ever know. And it’s not my place to become a judge of how someone else chooses to use their social media. I can, however, choose to unfollow someone if they constantly make me want to lose my Jesus.
I want to consider the “why” every time I post something on social media. And I want my daughter to do the same. I’m pretty sure that means I need to not only lecture her, but set a good example for her to emulate.
I’m not perfect. And sometimes I do watch to see how many likes a picture gets. I’d be kidding myself (and you) if I claimed that everything I post is always with a pure heart. I know I do not need to use social media to gain approval or measure popularity. And I know I don’t need to use it to prove that I’m spiritual or as a transparency meter. But I’m also human. And thank goodness I didn’t have to figure all of this out when I was 14!
Social media platforms were designed to share what we’re passionate about and begin conversations about those things. From our coffee to our faith to our latest thrift store find or our sunrise #nofilter quiet time, there is an opportunity to engage others and share our story.
How will you use it?