Photo illustrations by Christina Smith
Social media can be great. It can help you keep up with relatives and friends in this fast-paced world, meet new people, and even share the gospel. With a post, you can show your friends and family how good you are at making mac and cheese or share a favorite scripture. Social media can be fun!
But even though it can be great for keeping in touch, sometimes it can leave us feeling lonely. In fact, some studies suggest that more people than ever before feel alone now, and researchers think it may have to do with all the social media at our fingertips.1
So, What’s Going On?
Think about it: when you take time every day to post on social media about your fun weekend or about that awesome grade on your math test or about how much homework you have, it can be easy to forget about the people around you and start to think only about yourself. After a while, that can definitely start to feel a little isolating.
If we’re not careful, our social media experience can become very self-focused. When we post constantly about ourselves, we often get fixated on how we can make ourselves look cooler or more spontaneous or more popular. We can become absorbed in our own image, and that can make us oblivious to the people around us—people who may even need a friend or need our help. Maybe your little brother is always bored and wants to hang out with you. Or your friend down the street was sick last week and could use some help with the math lessons she missed. If you’re busy thinking about yourself, you might not ever notice.
This doesn’t mean that posting about yourself is bad! That’s part of what social media is all about—letting people know what you’re up to. But if you don’t pay attention, it can be easy to slip into “me, me, me” mode and fall into the trap of self-absorption.
Service Is the Solution
So how can we avoid this “me, me, me” mode? Well, the Savior has some great advice in Matthew 16:25: “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” We need to take some time off from thinking about ourselves, and instead focus on serving other people! There are lots of ways to do this, and you can even use social media. For example, you could take a photo with a younger sibling and make a post about how great families are. You could post something nice on a friend’s page. Or, you could post a reminder about the Mutual activity coming up and ask your friends who’s going. And you could always share inspirational quotes or your favorite scripture verses to brighten others’ days!
Of course, even with all the great ways to focus on other people through social media, it’s also good to take a break from it all and serve and love others the old-fashioned way. Take a step back from posing for your selfies and updating your statuses and instead play a game with a younger sibling, or head down the street and help your friend with her math homework. As great as social media can be, it can’t replace face-to-face love and service.
There are plenty of ways to stop thinking only about ourselves and start thinking about other people—you just have to try!
For instance, see forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/05/24/text-or-talk-is-technology-making-you-lonely/#6efd0680436e or huffingtonpost.com/margiewarrell/social-media-lonely_b_4034744.html.