Is Facebook a Place for Narcissism and Self-Aggrandizement?

Is Facebook Narcissistic?

Photo by Amy Lupold Bair, http://resourcefulmommy.com

Self Aggrandizement: the action or process of promoting oneself as being powerful or important.

It’s a place where we put on masks to hide our true selves. We always present ourselves in a good light, and hide our flaws from others. It’s a place that fosters jealousy, when others can’t measure up to the rosy image we paint of our lives. Our children are angels, our house is just so, we have profound and deep thoughts, and our photos are always filtered  to even out our skin tone. Amaro is a great one for that.

We are constantly compelled to answer the question “What’s on your mind?” whether we’re directly asked or not. We showcase our best talents and those of our children. We love posing in our best clothes, exhibiting our musical prowess, dashing everyone with our wit and charm. We drop names when we spend time with respected “celebrities” and brag about parties that not everyone was invited to.

When we do admit weakness, we insist that everyone take pity on us, with unrelenting complaints, once again putting the focus squarely on ourselves. Oh, and we are sure to highlight the flaws of others by showing their fashion faux pas and “OMG, that person wore WHAT to Walmart?!” We get together in private groups and trash talk people.

We share crude jokes and stupid sayings, and whatever nonsense pops into our heads.

Have you heard enough? Do you know what I’m getting at?

Would you be surprised if I said I am not talking about Facebook?

This scene could take place on Facebook… or at the workplace, our local moms’ groups, school, the community park… church. Yes, church.

Because the problem is not Facebook. The problem is sin. We all have it, we all need the Holy Spirit to help us resist it. In our physical lives, and on Facebook.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3: 23-25, ESV).

I’ve heard pastors and other speakers condemn Facebook as the height of narcissism, saying that people only use it to puff themselves up and assert an inflated sense of importance. They imply that those who love it are wasting their lives.

But just as we need to confront sin in our offline lives, and use every opportunity to bring glory to God, we can do this on Facebook as well!

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9, ESV).

What else happens on Facebook?

Because of my job, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. A LOT. And I’d like to describe some other phenomena I see there every day. Not unlike the workplace, our local moms’ groups, school, the community park… church, Facebook is a place where God moves mightily. Where, if we give Him reign, He will show His glory! 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).

Here’s what I see on Facebook every day – what I choose to see:

  • Beautiful friends whom I would never have met if not for social media! (Just like Molly in the photo above)
  • Hundreds of friends praying for a man who is in critical condition after surgery.
  • People worshipping God in song (i.e.. YouTube videos), and encouraging others to do the same.
  • People confessing sin and asking for prayer and support from other believers.
  • Christ-followers sharing messages the Lord has put on their hearts, many of those are exactly what I need to see at that given moment.
  • Testimonies from missionaries and humanitarian organizations around the world who are ministering to the poor, starving and lost.
  • Messages from friends whom I’ve touched in positive ways. Although it’s not through my own goodness, but God’s.
  • High school and college friends who see how the Lord has redeemed my life since the time I didn’t know Him.
  • Photos from friends and family that make me celebrate the unique way God has made them and revel in their talents!
  • Friends who don’t know Jesus, and act accordingly. But instead of being inspired to judge them, I try to be inspired to pray for them (sometimes after I judge them and God convicts me for it).
  • Sinners. Yup, you and me included.
  • Fun stuff that makes me laugh. It’s OK to just have fun, ya know?

What I would love to see is pastors and leaders condemning sin, not the use of Facebook. I’d like to see them encouraging Christians who are ON Facebook to reflect God’s glory, not just telling them it’s evil. Just as they do for those in the workplace, our local moms’ groups, school, the community park… church. Yes, church.

What about you? How have you seen God’s glory reflected in social media?

Leave a comment below!

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. Amy
    Twitter: amymchodges
    says:

    I love your heart, Sarah. I adore you confronting our sins head on AND looking for the power of God moving all around us. Thank you for this post.

    [Reply]

  2. Ben
    Twitter: bencotten
    says:

    You know how I’ve had my “I’ve had it” moments with Facebook. I think the phenomena is that the fakery is more obvious than it is at other times. It’s not better or worse, just more apparent.

    I’ve come to the place personally where I’m trying to do my best to make FB more real. I’m trying to make conscious effort to put content out there that is a true reflection of who I am.

    Like you point out, that’s something we can all do online and offline.

    Really great post, Sara.

    [Reply]

  3. Sarah,
    I totally get where you are coming from. I remember one particular Sunday my pastor brought up Facebook in the sermon stating that we all tend to stay on social media due to F.O.M.O. = Fear Of Missing Out

    He went on to say that… When people post pictures you only see the best of that hour! You don’t see what they’ve been through to get that memory. ;-)

    Everything seems perfect to us, but we don’t know what events took place leading up to that moment.

    There are many People suffering from FOMO
    Suffering is the ring that nobody wants to wear!

    We also spend way too much time on things that don’t really matter!

    I personally don’t get too personal on social media, not even my private FB page. If I’m going through something my real life prayer, friends and family will see me through. I won’t broadcast it online. I tend to keep things light! I follow many faith based pages for prayer and inspiration and I’ll pray for someone in a heartbeat! I’m human and try my best NOT to judge because it’s NOT my job! I pray away the negativity and ask for forgiveness.

    I don’t think Facebook or Social Media is evil at all! I stay away from negativity online and offline. You just have to know that we’re all different and that some people don’t know how to conduct themselves in either situation. I have met some great friends through social media myself and I have been able to see gods glory reflected in social media. I love when I see a prayer or message posted that was meant for me along with anyone else who was supposed to see it. I also love being a prayer warrior for someone in need.

    Great read! Thank you for being honest and transparent with your feelings. Hope I made sense, I feel like I started rambling… O_o

    [Reply]

  4. I haven’t heard Facebook bashed quite that blatantly by pastors in my circles, but I agree with your assessment. Facebook is just the modern day sewing circle or whatever used to be our main place to socialize. Sure, we know a lot more about what is going on in other people’s lives than we used to, but I think it really depends on who you follow. I hide people who are negative or braggy types, and I love spending time on Facebook, seeing what my friends are up to, and chatting with people I’d otherwise have lost touch with. I try not to always post the perfect, but at the same time, I try not to air our dirty laundry, b/c I don’t believe it’s the place for that either. Everyone has to answer to their conscience, I guess, when it comes to Facebook or any other social gathering place. Sin is and will always be the root of evil, not the medium we happen to be using at the time. :-)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    Exactly, Jo-Lynne! It’s all in trying to see the positive. And I personally love when people share good things happening to them, because I love good things happening to my friends. And I met you through social media!

    [Reply]

  5. Amen-the Internet saved my life! I will always stand by that!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    Amen, Elizabeth! I am so fortunate to have met you online, too!!

    [Reply]

  6. Sarah,
    What a great post.
    I have a love hate relationship with FB for reasons just like so many others, but chose a LONG time ago to use as a tool to encourage and uplift in the name of God.
    Thank you for this post and it’s encouragement.
    Blessings
    Mikki

    [Reply]

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