Verse of the Day

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."

~Romans 12:15

Today's Devotional Thought

October 21, 2013 by Rachel Piferi


No More Social Comparison

Recently, there has been a lot of research and talk about Facebook and other forms of social media and how they are contributing to depression, anxiety, and other negative psychological outcomes. Psychologists have been interested in social media from the beginning and have meticulously studied what it is doing to our relationships with others, to the social development of our teens, and to our daily mental and physical well-being.

And so far, the results aren't great.

Many studies and private reports seem to suggest that Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media can have a negative effect on us. Aside from stealing away much needed time, it seems that watching others' lives unfold in front of us leaves us feeling socially isolated {and not more connected} and discontented with our own lives. Mostly because we play the "comparison game," we often log off Facebook feeling that our lives are not as good as the lives of our "friends" that we are watching unfold in pictures and quippy status updates on our computer screens.

Teenagers seem to really do this. But, it is not really much different for adults according to research.

So what do we do?

Get off Facebook?

Stop using Twitter?

Or, could there be another way?

Is it possible that we could use this as a perfect opportunity to develop a spiritual discipline of sorts?

Stay with me here...

I have been thinking about the Facebook and Twitter phenomena for a long time. And there are many, many good uses of it. These two mediums allow me to keep in touch with friends that I would not be able to keep in touch with and to feel more connected to family that lives far away. I also cannot tell you how often I have logged on to see that a friend has posted a verse or a song that has encouraged me in a way that only the God could know I needed. And, I have women contact me through Facebook to hear more about Isabella's story and I love nothing more than sharing how God has worked miraculously in our lives.

So, I know that God is all over Facebook.

But Satan is too. And I see him mostly in the social comparison aspect of social media. As I read reports and listen to women and even look at my own experience, I definitely see that Satan is working overtime by tempting us to feel poorly about ourselves by leading us to compare our lives to the many others playing out on our computer screens.

So what if we didn't let him?

What if we stopped looking at others' moments of rejoicing through the lens of our own lives? Instead of watching someone else's life and thinking something about our own, why don't we just watch someone else's life and think something about theirs?

Don't even bring our lives into it.

You see, I firmly believe that Satan is constantly trying to divide believers. I believe he is constantly trying to divide and destroy families and I believe he is constantly trying to divide and destroy friendships. And I believe he is doing that because if he can get us isolated, he can get us doubting, stressing, and thinking things that simply are not true. God said early on that it wasn't good for man to be alone and from that moment, Satan has been trying to do it.

Divide us from others. Get us alone. Because alone, it is not good.

And, one way that I believe he separates us from others is by playing the social comparison game.

She's a better mom than you. Look at that beautiful dinner that she prepared and you have pizza boxes coming out of your trashcan.

She's a better wife than you. Look at the loving thing she just said about her husband and you just tore into yours for not taking out the trash {you know, the one with the pizza boxes in it}.

She is the most amazing woman. Look at how she balances a career, her children, teaches Sunday School, and still has time to bake that new recipe she just posted.

She is more beautiful than you are. Look at that 4.3 miles she just ran that Nike told us about and the profile picture she just uploaded. Gorgeous.

As I have read articles and blogs from women and how they experience Facebook, one thing is consistent: women have a tendency to compare themselves to others, that comparison often leaves them feeling poorly about themselves, and Facebook gives them a daily platform to do that. And I guarantee that with several hundred "friends," you will always find someone having a better day than you. A better day exercising. A better day at work. A better day with their friends. A better day with their husband & kids. A better hair day.

You name it and someone is always going to be having a better day than you in any number of areas.

So what if, instead of using other people lives as a way to see how good/bad ours is, we used these moments of hearing about others' lives to practice the discipline outlined in Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

You see, I think we can beat Satan at the social comparison game by simply not playing it. If someone is having a good day in some area that you are struggling in at the moment, rejoice with them. Celebrate it. And leave your life out of it. Look at someone else's good day exercising, good day at work, good day with their family, and good hair day and just say:

Lord, thank you that my friend received that blessing today.

And thank you for the many ways you bless me {sometimes in different ways} and are continuing to bless me.

Don't use other people's reporting of their lives as a commentary on your life. That is what Satan wants. Use it as an opportunity to stay connected to others and to do what the Lord instructs we do to maintain connectedness: rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. You see, if you refuse to get sucked into the comparison game and you rejoice with them, Satan has no foothold. He has no power over you when you thank God for someone else's success or blessing.

Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media have such great uses. And I have no doubt that the Lord is using these platforms. I have seen it in my own life. But I also know that Satan is using those platforms too to demoralize, depress, and discourage us.

Don't let him.

Instead of comparing our lives to others on Facebook, use these experiences as an opportunity to grow spiritually and rejoice with those who rejoice. Use what Satan meant for harm and turn it into something good. Turn social comparison into social rejoicing.

And watch social comparison disappear...

Memorize this verse today:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
~Romans 12:15

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