In today’s culture, social media is omnipresent. It’s easy to find ourselves scrolling for hours on our phones, consuming exorbitant amounts of content. Yet as we spend more and more time on social media, are we ignoring the negative effects social media can have on our lives?
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That’s what happens to online influencer Olivia Golden in the Pure Flix Original movie “Divine Influencer,” whose livelihood revolves around her social media persona. Let’s take a look at some of the dangers of social media that Olivia runs into and how she’s able to find God’s purpose for her life once she finally puts the phone down.
Dangers of Social Media Seen in ‘Divine Influencer’
Measuring Our Self-Worth
One of the negative effects of social media is how easy it can be to start measuring our self-worth by our social media presence—including the number of followers or “friends” we have and how many likes our posts receive. For “professional influencers” on social media, issues arise as they assess their self-worth based on how many brand partnerships they have.
In “Divine Influencer,” everything Olivia does is for the purpose of “influencing” and gaining the “love” (or at least the likes!) of her followers. She encourages her followers to wear the brands she promotes. She pitches herself to businesses, claiming that her influence on followers is so strong that businesses will greatly benefit from her endorsements.
As she becomes more and more immersed in social media, Olivia bases her self-worth off the numbers of followers, likes on her posts, and the number of brand partnerships she has. When her partnerships start to fail, Olivia’s self-image begins crumbling. She cannot cope with knowing that her status as a social media influencer is ending.
It’s dangerous territory to base our self-worth on something as worldly as social media. As we’ll see later in Bible verses, focusing too much on “things of the flesh” and worldly possessions takes us away from serving our true purpose in God’s will.
Another negative effect of social media is that users can become so obsessed with their image on social media, that every action they take is to serve their selfish interests. As Olivia becomes engrossed in doing everything she can to increase her followers and maintain her social media presence, she becomes less aware of others’ presence around her in the real world.
Her actions only serve her life, not others. For example, Olivia promises she’ll watch her friend’s apartment and pets, but Olivia instead prioritizes her appearance on social media over her commitment to her friend and the animals.
Throughout “Divine Influencer,” Olivia’s self-seeking agenda leads her to believe her self-worth is defined by the success of her social media accounts.
Let’s see what the Bible says about being self-seeking and God’s will for our lives, and how that can dispel these negative effects of social media.
What Does Self-Seeking Mean in the Bible?
When we’re seeking an agenda that purely serves our needs and desires, we don’t have the capacity to look for and pursue the will of God. Because this is one of the negative effects of social media, Christians need to be aware of what self-seeking looks like and how to avoid it.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
The majority of what we post and what content we consume on social media comes from “selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Olivia’s life on social media only served to make her an idol to her followers—and to make social media an idol to her. Olivia’s actions only served her own interest and desires.
One of the negative effects of social media is that we seek our own interests and disregard others’ feelings and needs. For Olivia, it wasn’t until she started working at the rescue mission that she learned how to first look to and prioritize “the interests of others” in her community. When we look away from the small rectangle screen in our hand, we can begin to see others’ needs and take action in helping them.
Romans 8:6 (NIV)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
The book of Romans provides practical advice and encouragement to live out God’s doctrine. In the Bible, things of the “flesh” refer to things that only matter to this world and aren’t eternal. Social media falls under this category. As Olivia shows us in “Divine Influencer,” one of the dangers of social media is becoming governed by it.
This Bible verse reminds us that we aren’t supposed to be consumed by things of this world, such as social media, but to seek first the fruit of the Holy Spirit that will lead us to eternal “life and peace.” When making decisions before we act, we can pause and ask ourselves if we are looking to pursue His will or earthly desires.
Read Also: 15 Ways to Put God First in the Modern World
James 3:16 (NIV)
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
Olivia’s actions and decisions are done out of “selfish ambition” as she looks to grow her social media presence. Her life unravels into “disorder” when her brand partnerships end and her parents cut her off. She isn’t sure exactly who she is or what her purpose is without her social media accounts being her number one priority.
It’s a good practice to pause and evaluate what is causing us “disorder” when we feel overwhelmed in life. When we’re honest with ourselves, we might admit that social media is contributing to our overall “disorder.”
Creating inner chaos is another negative effect social media can have on us. When Olivia is forced to pause and assess the “disorder” happening in her life, she’s able to make room to find God’s true purpose for her life and how she can truly influence her community.
Romans 2:8, 10 (NIV)
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger … but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good …
We see that when Olivia first tries to survive on her own, she fails. Selfishly, she tries to use her friendships to get back in good graces with brands she worked with and find housing that is as luxurious as she’s used to. It’s unfortunate that her self-seeking actions bring “wrath” and turmoil into her life.
When we are self-seeking—whether it be on social media, in our family life, or in our community—it tends to backfire on us. But when our actions come from a desire to honor God, when we do something for the love of our neighbor and not ourselves, God gives us “glory, honor and peace.”
Olivia learns of her blessings and experiences gratitude when her actions no longer come from a place of selfishness. As she learns to listen to where the Spirit is leading her and to seek God’s will above her own, Olivia’s actions begin to come from her desire for the good of others.
Matthew 16:24–26 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Living a life led by self-seeking desires goes against Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24 of denying ourselves and taking up our crosses to follow Him. One of the negative effects of social media can be that we never deny ourselves and only seek to “gain the whole world” in an online community.
Olivia essentially “sold her soul” to the world of social media. She thinks because of her success on social media, she has “gained the whole world.” It isn’t until she loses it all that she begins to take up her own cross and realize who she really needs to point her followers towards: Jesus.
Meet social media influencer Olivia in “Divine Influencer” when this Pure Flix Original Movie begins streaming on Pure Flix September 15.