I had a conversation with my wife recently as she contemplated deleting her Instagram account. I noted that Instagram seems to be particularly seedy in that it has developed into a narcissistic, softcore porn curation platform. There is also an insidious “follow for follow” culture that permeates the site. For these reasons I encouraged her to #InstagramExodus
I then thought about how we ask people to “follow me” on Instagram.
What is interesting about this is that this is exactly the terminology Jesus used when calling His disciples to abandon all and devote themselves to Him and His teachings (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9). “Follow me” is a religious term.
Social Media – A New Religion?
So has social media become a new religion for the masses? Australian Drum & Bass musician Karl Thomas of ShockOne thinks so. On his latest single “Follow Me”, Thomas explains:
‘ Follow Me’ is a message from the all-seeing, and all-knowing god of algorithms that dictate all aspects of our lives today. Our new religion is here, on every screen, in every app, on every platform. Proclaim your faith today, hit the follow button now.’ (Source)
The lyrics of the song are from the perspective of a social media algorithm that includes direct quotes from the Bible, including Jesus Christ:
“I’m the alpha, omega, beginning, the end. (Revelation 1:8)
A light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19), salvation, condemned.
Profanity Warning: This Song Contains The F-Bomb
The reality of mind control and thought generation is also hinted at as people surrender their discretion to a supercomputer that shows them what they need to know by manipulating news feeds and search results:
“I’m smarter, I’m faster, I curate your life.
What is the intention of these algorithms? Is it to enslave man in frivolity and to pump ads at users to generate profits for their creators? Does an even darker side to social media exist?
“I’ll lead you, I’ll show the way.
Surrender your soul, submit, obey.
…Follow me to hell
To the rest of mankind”
Perhaps social media distracts humanity from what is essential in life, which is to love our neighbour (being self-less instead of selfish) and to love God (Matthew 22:36-40). Many are turning to it for a sense of community as a replacement for church.
Whom The Son Sets Free Is Free Indeed
That which is broken cannot break, and that which has been purchased cannot be bought.
The answer to social media enslavement is not only to be sensitive to spending less time on these platforms, but of being captured by a greater reality.
Social media sites like Instagram turn individuals into their own god whereby they seek followers to influence the masses with their opinions and with the promise of glory and riches. As Christians, we should not be calling people to follow us but to follow Christ, who truly sets humanity free.