Picture the scene; A family attired in Christmas jumpers, rosy-cheeked, gathered round an open fire after a bracing country walk. There’s a huge home cooked dinner on the table, a twinkly Christmas tree shimmering merrily in the corner, happy chatter, hearts all aglow.
If Facebook is to be believed, this was the scene for many families this Christmas. And yet behind those happy selfie snaps, how much of it was a true reflection of their real lives? How many families were struggling with resentment or ill-health or worries about the future? How many paused from their squabbling just long enough to put a smiley picture on Twitter?
If you’ve looked at someone else’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter this year and thought, why isn’t my Christmas like that? Why don’t I have as many friends? Why isn’t my family happy...chances are, you’ve been the victim of a Facebook mugging.
Being mugged by Facebook makes you feel inadequate, makes you wish for a life better than the one you have, makes you wonder why you’re not in the perfect 2.4 family, when it seems like everyone else is. Its effects on our psyche can be pretty damaging.
I’ve chatted offline to some people this year, who’ve had to do some covert unfollowing, to escape the constant reminders that their lives don’t quite measure up. For some friends, this is their first Christmas without someone, or they’re facing divorce, sickness or huge problems at work…or they’ve spent the entire holiday alone (as apparently 1 in 4 in the UK did this year).
Social Media can be a brilliant force for good – it’s reconnected people, it can be used to give others real hope, but on a personal level it can be mis-used to make our lives look better than they really are.
There’s a verse in Timothy 3:1-5 which paints a (kinda ugly!) picture of the sort of people who the world will one day be full of:
As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up….they’ll make a show of religion…steer clear of these people.
It makes pretty grim reading but I was struck by self-absorbed, self-promoting, stuck-up. It’s easy to use Social Media to say, ‘look at me…look at my family…look at my stuff…’ But for those looking on, the effects can be quite painful.
And so if you’ve been victim of a Facebook mugging this year, take heart. In God’s economy; none of it matters. In His economy, real hope doesn’t come from stuff and presents and loads of people around, it comes from a deep-down unshakeable security that isn’t knocked or wearied by what’s going on around us. Real hope sees ‘stuff’ for what it is; temporary and instead fixes its eyes on the eternal.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:13