Putting Instagram Into Focus

The wheels of the plane finally touched the ground in Austria. I had been waiting for this moment my entire life. I grew up listening to my grandmother (Helga Aousia Grosslercher) tell story after story of her life in the far-away land of Austria. She grew up during the days of Hitler and even watched her father get arrested and taken away as a prisoner of war.

When she was in her mid-twenties, she met my grandpa who was in the United States Army, and they soon fell in love and moved back to America. My grandmother has been back to her hometown many times, but I had only heard stories. This past summer I was finally able to experience my heritage and see everything my grandmother had always told me about. It was one of the most amazing trips of my entire life.

self-portraitAs you can imagine, I was extremely eager to share all of my pictures with my family as soon as I took them. Fortunately, with the help of a very handy app on my iPhone, I was able to do that. I’m sure almost all of you either use or have heard of Instagram … it was incredible being able to take a picture in Austria and immediately post it and send it out to all my friends and family back in America!

After my trip, I noticed that Instagram continued to be a very permanent part of my day. I also noticed myself spending even more time browsing my friends’ pictures and seeing the latest scoop in their lives.

A few weeks after I got back home, I noticed I was struggling to have a solid daily devotional. I also noticed I was spending a good thirty minutes to an hour every day on Instagram. Let’s just say after praying about Instagram, God quickly convicted me of the amount of time I was spending on there, and I decided to remove the app from my phone. Although I still think it’s a cool program and can definitely be used for good, I think a lot of us (myself included) are or have been using it in the wrong way. Let me share with you some of the things I’ve noticed about Instagram, and let me know what you think.

One of the main things I’ve noticed is that people tend to post a lot of individual pictures of themselves. Some people call these pictures "selfies." Most of you probably know exactly what I am talking about. Let me just be extremely honest here with my thoughts. Feel free to discuss below and agree or disagree, but I think it’s worth considering.

Imagine if I walked up to you at church and held out a picture of me smiling. Wouldn’t that seem awkward and self-focused? We do things on Instagram that we would never do in real life. We can post countless pictures of ourselves smiling or driving or eating or whatever it is and feel totally normal about it. When you take a step back and look at it from an outside perspective, doesn’t this seem a bit strange to you? I came across this on gotquestions.org and thought they summarized it perfectly.

In addition, Christians should be aware of the danger of the narcissism (excessive self-love and preoccupation with self) inherent in self-oriented sites. Studies have shown that overuse or wrong motives in social media participation can breed narcissism. When we rely on social media sites primarily to promote ourselves or draw attention to ourselves, it is time to take a step back.

Besides the issue of Instagram tending to be a time-waster, I think narcissism is one of the biggest problems of all. Posting pictures of ourselves and waiting for the compliments to flow in so that we feel good—who doesn’t love it when people tell them how pretty or beautiful they look? But could these "selfie" pictures be another way we are focusing our time and attention on ourselves instead of focusing on God?

First Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

With this verse in mind, we need to ask ourselves a few questions:

  • Am I using Instagram as a tool to promote myself or to promote God?
  • What is my goal in posting a "selfie" picture?
  • Could I make better use of my time rather than spending it on Instagram?
  • How much time do I spend every day on Instagram?
  • How much time do I spend every day in God’s Word?

Like I said at the very beginning of this blog post, I think Instagram is a great program that can be used for good—just like I was able to share my pictures with my family all the way from Austria. However, I’m challenging you to take a step back and evaluate your time and postings on Instagram. When I stepped back, I noticed there were definitely some things wrong with it in my own life.

I would love to know what you girls think about Instagram. Let me know your thoughts below.

About Author

After a brief experience in the modeling industry, Bethany’s eyes were opened to how self-absorbed and lost her generation of young women really are. She and her older sister were inspired to start a blog (www.GirlDefined.com) and wrote a book Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity and Identity. Their passion is to help young women find God’s truth about beauty and womanhood and the freedom that comes from living a radically different life for Christ.

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