Let’s talk about the people you meet and befriend on social media. They are different from actual friends. For the most part, they aren’t real friends.
If you have a nice social-media presence with five hundred people, you can enjoy the conversations and connections since it’s on the level of a good-sized church or high-school graduation class.
But as you grow your social platform into thousands or tens and hundreds of thousands, you need to have your eyes wide open to that group of followers. On second thought, maybe it would be better to close your eyes because many social-media followers have all the traits of really bad, fickle friends.
Seriously, the social-media platforms need to put “Followers” in quotes, just to indicate their commitment to you is loose at best. You know what I mean. If you referred to someone as your “friend” in writing or used air quotes while speaking it, everyone would assume there’s something more to that story.
If you look through Scripture, world history, and the broad scope of writers from Socrates to Oprah Winfrey, you would be able to fill your refrigerator with magnetized Bible verses, quotes, and poems about friendship that would make a tear come to your eye and you saying “Awww” every time you walk by. I can hear Randy Newman singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” right now.
But we aren’t talking about those kinds of friends. We are talking about people who fit the description of this quote from three hundred years ago: “Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as friends and family” (Johnathan Swift).
How would he have known about social-media followers so long ago?
I am not trying to be depressing today, but I do think once in a while we need to take a deep breath about platform-building and make certain we don’t attach self-worth and value before God to how many “friends” or “followers” we have.
Platform-building is a business. You serve people well and give them what they find interesting and valuable, and they stick with you. If you don’t, they go away, as any bad friend would.
Children and youth are driven crazy by expectations placed on them through social media. As Christian adults, Scripture commands us to stop that sort of behavior.
It’s not a suggestion: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV).
Platform-building is not your life, your worth, or the totality of your world. It is your “work,” and sometimes nutty customers come into your platform. Handle their business with grace and love, but don’t invite them over for dinner. They are likely to find something to complain about what you serve anyway.