Doing it right
In the age of social media and hyper-connectedness, we can chose to share any aspect of our lives to an infinite audience.
People can commodify their own lives into a marketable product or a digital billboard and, as a result, there can be (and there is) a lot of pressure and expectation as to whether we are doing it right. By it, I mean life.
Am I making the right choices with my appearance? Do I buy the right products, clothes, accessories? Do I dine at the right restaurants and cafes? Do I eat the right food?
Should I show that I care what people think of me by buying into society’s current trends? Or do I also show that I don’t care about following society’s trends but I still care about what people think of me so I show off my distaste for trends in the same performative manner?
Social platforms are filled with trends and views and information and facts and misinformation and mere opinion.
The opinions and preferences of strangers have never been easier to come by. In fact, I come across the views of distant friends or people I haven’t seen since high school. All of this conversation and noise fills my timelines, feeds and screens.
These views fill my brain with new issues, points of view, products and expectations which would otherwise not be taking up precious mental space or dictating to me the parameters of acceptable behaviour, dress, opinion, values and general lifestyle choices.
It isn’t just the passive absorption of information, though, I can put out my questions to the world: “Anyone got a recommendation for a Mexican restaurant for Friday date night?”, “Looking for podcast recommendations, what do you enjoy?”.
These examples might seem a little trivial but I am still seeking after the views and opinions of a large number of people, most of whom I rarely see in person, and even more rarely, merely even talk to in a genuine conversation via social media.
The ‘right’ content
What’s more, I can contribute to the ongoing noise on social media of where the right spot for coffee is, what a good (and probably already popular) book to read right now is, as well as re-share information on social issues, current affairs and things that seem like they should be shared because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Doing it… exhaustedly
At this point I am exhausted. Exhausted of consuming all of this mostly useless, mind-numbing, anxiety-inducing and limiting content. Exhausted of trying to contribute the right content.
Exhausted of living a life that sometimes tries to adhere to the trends of society: whether that’s going to a coffee shop that an influencer posted a photo at or spending hours deciding what skincare I should buy but ultimately realising I just can’t afford the products people promote.
Exhausted by the mental fatigue and fog that arises from constantly pondering the choices I make before I make them, and then evaluating those choices to see if I made the right ones.
These issues don’t just stem from social media, but the addictive, and almost required, use of social media has certainly placed social media high on the list of causes.
Coming back to one of my favourite verses in the Bible serves as the best reminder that this is the life Jesus promised us: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John chapter 10, verse 10).
I know Jesus didn’t die on the cross for me to continue to live as a slave to society’s way of living. He died so I had freedom from sin and selfish desires and could live in right relationship with him. Yes, I think the ‘right here and right now’ does matter and Jesus does care about my life at this moment. But I don’t have to live life chained to a trend.
In church, we regularly talk about the counter-cultural life that Jesus lived here on Earth. The Gospels are over-flowing with demonstrations of Jesus doing things that were opposite to what the done thing was in his context. Jesus didn’t do society’s right thing; Jesus did the right thing by the simple fact that that he is the righteous Son of God.
I don’t think this should encourage us to live simply counter-cultural. What good would it do if we simply did the opposite thing to a trend without actually checking with the Word if that behaviour lines up with an expression of the character of God?
Of course, we ought not to buy into a trend, placing our worth and value in the approval of society and what is popular. But our first place to report to is to be filled up by God’s love and being prepared to learn what a follower of Jesus would do when they know God’s love and assurance.
What Jesus thinks of me matters most
Our first place to receive our value and worth is from Jesus. He redeems us and makes us new. What Jesus thinks of me, and what the Word says about me, matters more than any other thing I could come across.
I don’t have to perform for his love. The choices I make after coming into relationship with Jesus should be an expression of his love and for me. Instead of asking myself “What does society think is right?”, I can ask myself “What choice or opinion would be a good example of the person of Jesus? What would be right in God’s view (as far as I can know through the Bible)?”.
Ultimately, it won’t be up to me to determine if I’ve done life right. That rests with our sovereign God and honestly, I am grateful to not bear that responsibility.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.