Ever catch yourself scrolling through Instagram and thought someone else’s life looks so much nicer than your own?

Honestly, I catch myself doing this. It’s easy to get caught up in the photos of Instagram and wish my life looked like the patchwork quilt I’m scrolling through. But that’s a fantasy and real life is much better than screen-life.

The ironic thing is that we’ve started comparing our lives to everyone else’s, yet we can only see a 4:5 glimpse of it.

Instagram is a powerful tool. If the adage is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” then we’re scrolling past theses as we look on Instagram. The person posting, the composition of the shot and the subject matter all serve to tell us something of the person holding the camera.

Social media should serve the purpose of getting to know people better. In communication theory, this is called “Relational Dialectics.”

The idea behind this is that when you meet a new person you don’t yet know them, so there is tension between you, and the desire is to lower that tension. Through conversation and time that tension is released, and you are able to be free with the new person and they move from acquaintance to friend.

What social can do is help to serve the relational dialectic and move people down the funnel, so to speak, quicker. What Instagram can do is serve to show more about a person than a blog post about the person could ever do.

So, when we find ourselves envying another person’s digital life we need to remember a few things:

  1. What you’re seeing is merely a glimpse – and possibly a stage glimpse at that.
  2. Is what you’re feeling going to serve you better as you desire to serve the person?
  3. You can learn a lot, even if a post is staged about the person behind the camera.

Yet the reverse is also true. Take a minute to look through your posts. What are you taking pictures of? What are your thousands of words saying? Do your posts help to evidence your hope (1 Peter 3:15)?

This can – and should – be convicting. On Facebook or Twitter, it’s easier to edit ourselves to sound different or better. On Instagram what we see and what we show reveals more about us than we realize.

Sam Morris

Sam Morris, is the Electronic Marketing Specialist for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife have one son.