Is it Idolatry to Pursue Trends on Social Media?

Alicia Searl

Contributing Writer
Published: Sep 21, 2022
Is it Idolatry to Pursue Trends on Social Media? Plus

While we may have the intent to use it for good, we must recognize when these platforms steal us away from what is truly important and get our lives out of balance.

Alexa warns me every morning when it is time to get up and greet the day. As much as I would love to bounce out of bed and tend to my many tasks with grace, poise, and tack, with an adorned smile on my face per the Proverbs 31 women, that’s not usually the case. The smell of coffee, while enticing, gives me just enough energy to groan, roll over, and beg for five more minutes. 

As the school rush begins and I drag myself out of bed, the culprit for my unmotivated existence is the screen that kept me up ‘til midnight – mindlessly scrolling. In robot-type fashion, mind you. Sigh. But just as I grow annoyed with myself for staying up so late, that screen leers me in yet again. Its stark light glows with a notification, taunting me to look. And, you guessed it – I give in!

Check. Scroll. Post. Comment. Check again. By this time, kids are usually fighting over a hairbrush and are half dressed for school with no breakfast. My frustration only grows between the noise in my house and the “noise” I’ve immersed myself in via my lifeline…err… handheld device. I must find a new trending song. I must! Otherwise, I will only get five views and no likes. 

It’s embarrassing to admit, but before I even pick up my Bible or even open up a Bible app, social media has already graced my presence and sabotaged my time. Maybe you can relate?

Oh, the social media wars. We all crave connection, don’t we? We want to feel understood, liked, and validated. It’s part of our DNA, and well, social media foots the bill. These platforms may not be the best means of communication and community, but they do have their own unique benefits. So, we insist on telling ourselves we’ll track our time and “enforce” boundaries. That is until the next “ding” clamors for our attention and makes us take a quick glance. Argh!

If you are a creator and use social media to spread a message or share a product, you probably already know and understand the constant battle of not just the mental and emotional games it plays but the trends you have to stay on top of (thanks to the ever-changing algorithm) to stay “present” and in the view of others. Utilizing your time behind a screen and putting forth your efforts into your actual mission or product can be draining, to say the least. 

As a writer, social media is my place to share the good news, offer hope and connect with others. But, I find myself fighting the same battles. While we may have the intent to use it for good, we must recognize when these platforms steal us away from what is truly important and get our lives out of balance.

Guard Your Heart

Friend, there is a lot of meat on the bone with this topic, and I am merely scratching the surface and attempting to do it somewhat justice. So, if you get nothing else from this article, pick up on this Truth and tuck it into your heart today.

Philippians 4:7-8 says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

As believers, we have the assurance that our God is guarding our hearts. He is our shield. However, we are still in charge of our choices and yes, our compulsive behaviors. We are commanded to be accountable for our thoughts, moving us to action as we aim to focus on what is pure, lovely, admirable, and just in God’s eyes. 

So, that brings us to the question: Can we shift our focus to pure thoughts when we constantly pursue trends on social media? 

I believe the answer is twofold. We can go down rabbit holes for the perfect reel idea to get noticed (getting wrapped up in self), or we can open up our hearts to the real Creator and seek discernment on how to use content to display a message that honors Him. It’s a choice.

The truth is social media will always try to grab our attention, steal away hours of our time, and turn us on ourselves. But, if we harness our efforts and time, it can provide us with opportunities to spread good and positive news in a place littered with negativity, lies, and confusion. 

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Side of Social Media

First, recognize that using social media in and of itself is not necessarily bad. As believers, we are called to spread the good news (Matthew 28:19). Just as Jesus met with large crowds to share a message, in modern times, social media supplies us with an audience. A rather wide audience to share a message—His message. 

However, keep in mind that if we use social media as a tool to spread Truth wrapped in love and grace, there will be pitfalls. Expect backlash. It will happen in some form or another. That’s because the enemy is always on the hunt for those doing good (1Peter 5:8). Just remember, Jesus also faced opposition and was ridiculed, mocked, cast out, and denied, even by the chosen people who loved Him (Luke 23:11, Mark 14:65, Isaiah 53:3).

By gaining a better understanding of all the sides of social media, we can shift our perspective and possibly see it as a helpful resource but we must choose to be intentional. 

Here’s the Good Side of Social Media

There is an opportunity to share the good news with many, including non-believers.

You can be creative and tap into your artistic side.

Networking and connecting with like-minded people help spread the mission to lead others to Christ.

There are many fun and creative ideas you can pick up from others.

When you look in the right places, you find inspiration and hope.

Here’s the Bad

It can easily become an addiction. 

The time wasted when you aren’t being intentional can lead to problems.

The algorithms constantly change, leaving you sucked in to figure it all out.

It’s easy to focus on self rather than the mission of spreading the love of Christ.

Posts and comments can be easily misunderstood.

And, Then There’s the Ugly Side

It can lead down a road of unhealthy comparisons.

We can long for validation with the number of likes and comments, leading to detrimental views of ourselves.

Constant immersion in social media can lead to isolation or depression.

There is a dark side that lurks in corners that, if uncovered, can bring forth damaging images and information, destroying our innocent and pure thoughts.

Instill Boundaries and Protect Your Heart

If you are currently using social media and pursuing trends to get your message, product, or mission out there, here are a few things to keep in mind to guard your mind and protect your heart:

–Honor and respect the time of others. Try not to use social media as a crutch but instead, be intentional about the use and time you spend on it. If it meddles in your family time, put it down.

–Pray before you post or comment. Always seek discernment.

–When you are about to post, ask yourself, “Does the music or content line up with how God sees me or others?”. 

–Get your confirmation and validation from the content found in the pages of the Bible, not from a number of likes or views (Galatians 1:10).

–Choose wisely who you like and follow. If trends or content strays away from Truth or leaves you feeling uncomfortable, let it go.

Pursuing trends in and of itself is not idolatry. However, when we allow it to consume our time and thoughts, that is when it can change from a form of positive use to negative use, henceforth becoming an idol. Seek first God, always. Walk Him through your thoughts and passions for what you do on these platforms. Then let Him lead and direct you on when and what to share. 

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.