Using Social media to help build the Kingdom of God and not as an OUTLET…
I have to admit that I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have participated in the very thing that affected me in regards to the world of social media. What exactly affected me? The same thing that affects millions, if not billions, all over the world. It’s what has changed nearly everything around us. When we take a step back and really think about how the world has changed so fast during the evolution of social media it’s quite shocking. What is good has taken the back seat at a faster rate and what was once thought of as immoral or destructive is now considered normal, healthy and good. It’s something that doesn’t just affect my generation… It’s affecting everyone.
My journey with social media really didn’t start till after my husband Jared passed away in 2011. Hundreds of people reached out to me, in hopes to lift me, and to be updated on my life as I tried to pick up the pieces. Even though I was receiving so much love, I had to step away from it because even knowing about the good and normal lives of others while my life was so broken hurt me. I started to come back to it as my life started to pick back up again in 2012. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that I really started to dive in a little more. I got more friends, more followers, more interests and hobbies, more money to shop, more desires and finally started my own online business as a result from receiving many messages from friends and family wanting help in regards to their fitness goals. As many know, having an online business means you most likely have to use social media. Unfortunately my business was myself. My physique... me… During my transformation, I was so happy with the results as I spent so much time researching, planning, and trying new things to become even better. Obtaining Body composition, definition, while having a relatively normal eating regimen was unheard of and macro counting was becoming HUGE. I found great success in my business but even though Full on Macros was short lived, I already started to feel the pull and pressure of the world seeping into my life.
I say “short lived” because The August my business was up and running was when I nearly lost my life. I went from being on top of the world physically with a bright future as an online coach to nearly losing EVERYTHING. At the onset of being hit by clinical depression I thought my life was over and others looking in had the same worries. However during that trial I learned something that saved my life. It’s a tool I continue to use to get me through life which is reaching up to our Father in Heaven immediately at the onset of a trial and begging to see the good and find purpose. Just one day after a desperate plea to find the good during a time where life itself seemed unbearable, I was shown a type of good that came in a form I would have never expected... An opportunity to change and learn.
I was actually enlightened as to what was holding me back from progressing as quickly and efficiently in this life. I became aware more than even before of that one outlet in life that I had jumped all the way into. My social media habits, may have had the potential to produce a lot of good (and it did) but it also had countless flaws. I had felt myself get warnings through my continuous participation with social media but I always tried to justify it feeling the good outweighed the bad. Now, it was becoming more and more clear that everything that was justified and disguised as “normal” was actually causing destructive habits and thoughts, that were incredibly distracting (oh my word I cannot put enough emphasis on that) time consuming, and a vessel for me to compare myself to others. I even found myself spending excessive amounts of time thinking and obsessing about projects and my countless hobbies which occupied way too much brain space, took me away from my kids and living in the moment, and also caused me to at times look past things I am so grateful for and instead wanting more and more. I also wondered why my life seemed so average compared to the seemingly never ending excitement and success of others in my friend bank... and what’s even worse, I learned about others who had been comparing themselves to me and my life as it was portrayed through pictures. Because of the skin smoothing filters, the photo enhancements, the clothing, the newest skin care that’s never ending, the constant snippets of the best part of people’s day or the perfectly planned disasters where one still looks awesome, celebrity drama, the newest and coolest thing to have, the birthday party decorating that’s out of this world, the amazing physics of women and men posted everywhere, the plumpest lips and prettiest eyelashes... I became a victim to joked about comment... “hahah gosh it’s just so addicting!!!!”
During the time I was becoming aware of how much I was participating and being affected, It felt as though I was snapping out of this trance! The pictures provided show examples of slipping. Experimenting... justifying... following the norm. Every single one of those pictures received many comments, likes and private messages but it wasn’t till August of 2017 when I had the most clear prompting that changed everything. This prompting caused, less likes, less interacting and less and less comments but the idea to not use social media for any other purpose than to help build the kingdom of God changed my life for the better.
Don’t get me wrong, It has been very hard to not share all the exciting news and funny day to day things, and I miss looking forward to the happy/clever replies as a result to my post as well as keeping up with all the accomplishments of others... BUT I am also free. I have more time to feed myself spiritually instead of mindlessly scroll or research things that don’t really matter. My efforts to search for opportunities to post something are GONE. The pressure of what is attractive and pretty to the world has diminished and I no longer compare myself to others constantly because I am LIVING IN MY OWN MOMENT and not comparing my moments to everyone else’s. I am not influenced by the things that pop up when I “scroll” that seem to have no impact but slowly creep in. I don’t spend time or feel pressure on how to improve my skin tone or how I look in pictures... my concerns about what the world would think have diminished (hence I’m talking about this to everyone ).
This October’s General Conference gave me the confidence and courage to share this experience because there were countless talks referring to the affects of Social Media on the individual. Warnings were given, gray areas were pointed out and the emphasis on this topic was no longer causally referred to but bluntly addressed.
Elder Quinten L. Cook’s conference talk “The Eternal Everyday,” did not dance around or joke about the gray areas in which we can be victims. Quote, “In our quest for humility, the modern Internet creates challenges to avoiding pride. Two examples are the self-indulgent ‘look at me’ approach or attacking others by ranting on Social Media. One more example is the ‘humblebrag.’ It is defined as ‘an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement [or picture] whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud.’ The prophets have always warned about pride and emphasizing the vain things of the world.” End Quote
Elder Gary E. Stevens dedicated his entire talk “Spiritual Eclipse,” to this danger. He said, Quote, “Ironically, it is not only the negative that can cause spiritual eclipse in our lives. Often, admirable or positive endeavors to which we dedicate ourselves can be drawn so close that they blot out gospel light and bring darkness. Two additional risks related to Social Media are: idealized reality and debilitating comparisons. Many (if not most) of the pictures posted on Social Media tend to portray life at its very best—often unrealistically. We have all seen beautiful images of home decor, wonderful vacation spots, smiling selfies, elaborate food preparation, and seemingly unattainable body images. Comparing our own seemingly average existence with others’ well-edited, perfectly crafted lives as represented on social media may leave us with feelings of discouragement, envy, and even failure. In short, don’t let life’s distractions eclipse heaven’s light. ” End Quote
Sometimes things that seem innocent, helpful and harmless CAN turn into gray areas. When we venture into gray areas, we are leaving doors cracked open for Satan to enter. Gray areas don’t usually come to the forefront until the damage has already begun. They are harder to identify and usually do not have bright red warning signs. Prayer can help us recognize the grey areas and warn us against participation before damage has been done. “Standing in holy places,” is not so black and white anymore. Satan entices us into the gray. “Distraction” is a vice that is used to waste our time and occupy our minds, robbing us from spiritual nourishment.
Let us head to the words of Elder Stevens when he said, “With so many inspired and appropriate use of technology, let us use it to teach, inspire and lift ourselves and to encourage others to become their finest---rather than to portray our idealized virtual selves. Let us also teach and demonstrate the righteous use of technology to the rising generation and warn against the associated hazards and destructive use of it.”
YOU GUYS!!!! Take a stand and fight the flaws—make corrections...Help make social media a safe place for others to feel lifted and loved not a place for others to compare themselves to YOU, and a place to be distracted from what truly matters. Comfort one another, share what you learned today, compliment someone you love in your life, talk about what makes you happy, post quotes that inspire you, and take this stand that is so worth taking. Expect fewer likes, less comments, “followers” to “un-follow” because what is good isn’t always popular, and what isn’t popular is sometimes the hardest thing to do.