“Me, Me, Me”: Facebook and the Culture of Narcissism


narcissismAm I the only person on Facebook who has taken notice of a somewhat bizarre phenomena? Can some of my under-thirty or thirty-something FB friends and acquaintances give me some insight?

Maybe you have not noticed, but there seems to be a deluge of photos of “me” on Facebook, especially among younger females (married and single) and some younger males. Many of the photos are sultry, sensual, posed, “look-at-me” postings. Sometimes these photos are people taking pictures of themselves.

I can’t help but ask, “What’s the deal here?” What is the aim of these photo postings? Are they advertising availability? Are these self-photo posters looking for acknowledgement, encouragement, validation of worthiness or attractiveness (“Wow, you’re looking good!”)?

What’s the real message here?

What I think I’m seeing is a need many young people feel, to be approved of for their physical appearance. And here’s where the warning bells and whistles start to go off in my head.

Wouldn’t you rather have someone approve of you because of what is on the inside? Or are you afraid that no one will see what is inside of you, if the outside isn’t alluring?

I want to get personal here with my readers who claim to be follower of Jesus. I believe we need to take care of our physical body – according to Scripture it’s the temple of God. When you repented of your sins and invited Christ into your heart, the Holy Spirit actually came in – the life of Christ is now inside you. Now your body is God’s temple, not a temple for “me” worship.

I understand wanting not to look like the slob who doesn’t care enough to bathe, put on clean clothes or comb his hair before being in public (and FB is very publilc) – you are an ambassador of the kingdom of God, planted on earth to represent Him wherever you are. When I go out into the public, I make sure I look presentable, that my hair is combed and I don’t have food on my face. I do it because I am seen, not to be seen.

Looking your best is one thing; but having the need to have others look at you and approve of you because of the way you look is narcissism – which means “inordinate fascination with oneself.”  “Look at me! Aren’t I beautiful, or handsome, or buff, or attractive? Wouldn’t you like to get to know me and how awesome I am?”

As Christians we need to do some self-examination. Why exactly am I doing what I’m doing? Am I doing it to be seen? Or do I need the approval of others, because I don’t have the right kind of self-esteem?

The things you post on Facebook and other social media, how you look, what you say, what you promote, the kind of humor you approve of, the kind of vocabulary you use – all tell a story of your relationship with God and with others who are created in His image.

Here are a couple verses from God’s manual on Christian behavior to think about:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:4-7 (ESV)

“Flesh” here can mean the physical body and/or fleshly desires. Is what you are posting appealing to your own or some else’s flesh?

Here is another verse to consider:

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)

In the context of the rest of the passage, the Apostle Peter was speaking to women who are trying to win their unsaved husbands to the Lord. But the principles in these verses and the rest of the passage should be applied by all Christians. I know men who are authoritative, strong, and influential, yet have a gentle and quiet spirit inside. I know women who are beautiful in a pair of sweats, with their hair pulled back in a ponytail, with no make-up on.  They would not win a beauty contest, yet there is something beautiful about them.

Your posts to your “friends” are often being seen and read by your friends’ friends and their friends – it’s very public. As a believer, your written or photo posts are representing your Heavenly Father and His kingdom. If you want to win others to Jesus, the above passages gives us a clue as to how to do that, as does,1 Peter 3:1b-2:

“ . . . your godly lives will speak to them . . . They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.”

The question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to reflect the inner beauty of Christ, in order to win others to Him, or do we just want to get the focus on our outward appearance, our “coolness”, or our edgy lifestyle choices, in order to attract people to us?

Some questions to ponder: who are you trying to impress? Who or what is on the throne of your life? Which kingdom do you represent – God’s kingdom or the kingdom of “me”?

©2013, Marcy Alves

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About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on August 15, 2013, in Christian Growth, God Encounters, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I like this a lot. I had a history of verbal and physical abuse so I had to make up for what my parents didn’t give me by learning to really love myself. In my 5 years of christianity, admit I have made it more about me until slowly but surely I came to realize I come to God not to feel loved, but to make it about Him to love Him more. It all begins with Him and everything else just works out for our own good when we focus on Him. Amen. 🙂

    • Hi Leighla, Thanks for sharing. I believe the Lord has given you a beauty that shines from within – keep the shades up to let that light show the way for others to come to Him.

  2. This is an excellent post because it causes a person to ask himself why he does what he does. For the believer, it’s about whom we honor: God or self.

    Thanks for following God’s lead in pointing out these things that need our attention and change.

    Blessings,
    Pastor Sharon

    • Renewal of the mind and change is what it’s all about – but we are sometimes so reluctant to ask the Lord to show us what needs to change. I’m so glad He is the one who takes our circumstances and uses them to conform us to the image of His Son.

  3. Ha, this is funny and so true….those pictures have a name now; they are called ‘selfies’ 🙂

    I agree with you. God needs to be in it and everything we do we need to check our motives….to see if God is getting the glory. My pastor once said if we ask ourselves “is God getting the glory from what I am doing?”, then we would stop a whole lot of pointless things…

    Blessings
    JC

    • “Selfies”? That’s an interesting term. I think many Christians are glad Christ was crucified for them, but forget what the Apostle Paul said about being “crucified with Christ”. The old self is so slow to die, isn’t it? The word from your pastor is a good one.

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