Everybody thinks they’re so smart these days. Only one person will be Twitter Savage (“your forehead has more oil than Delta”), the same person will be motivational speaker (“Love yourself, because no one can love you like you”) same person is relationship counsellor (“insert wise-sounding but probably silly quote here”) but ultimately this one person’s only expertise is the ability to use social media, and nothing more.
Opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one. The problem is these days everybody is arrogant enough to believe their opinions, and the opinions of those they trust to be fact. In Mass Communication the latter is called gatekeeping. Our spiritual leaders, best friends, parents are often gatekeepers in our lives, determining the kind of information we’re exposed to, and the ones we’ll believe or disregard. It’s perfectly fine to have opinions and to have people whose opinions you respect.
However, every opinion should be taken with the tiniest grain of salt, simply for the fact that it’s an opinion. The Bible says that Satan is the Father of lies, and the Spirit of God leads us to all truth. It just so happens that the moment you let every opinion cross over to being ‘fact’, it becomes a lie, and as human beings we like lies. A Youth Pastor once said that when it comes to convincing ourselves to do or believe certain things, we are the best salesmen. We know exactly where our own ‘mumu’ buttons lie and are prepared to press it in order to do or believe things we know we shouldn’t.
Think about it. You know that one obviously prideful guy who is always putting up “People will call you arrogant for having too much self-respect” posts. Or that girl with an attitude problem who posts things like “Don’t let people’s negative opinions about you influence you” (and ironically, the post itself is an opinion they are letting influence them). On and on it goes, we bandage our dysfunctions in motivational quotes, hide the logs in our eyes with sunglasses and when someone tries to take it off, we say they’re “throwing shade”.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with a motivational quote. But using it as a crutch to not work out your issues is problematic. In this overly sensitive world, we’ve let constructive criticism become “hating”, and we consider people who don’t pat our flaws on the back as being “unable to handle me”. If you find yourself constantly sweeping your issues under the rug with words like “it’s really not that deep” then perhaps it’s time to consider if you’re really just that shallow.
Ouch, yeah, I felt that too. But the truth hurts for a reason. Sit-ups are painful, but six packs are worth it. Now as to all things, there’s a balance. You shouldn’t surround yourself with people who constantly make you feel bad about yourself. These kinds of people can produce suicidal thoughts, neither should you surround yourself with people who make you feel like a Rockstar 24/7. These kinds of people produce Hitler’s.
Proverbs states that faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. If you only roll with people who are constantly kissing your butt and pushing away the people that tend to kick it when you misbehave, then congratulations, you really are keeping your enemies closer.
Finally, social media is not your therapist. I repeat, social media is not your therapist! No man, platform, boy, girl, not even Reverend is your Holy Spirit. They can be guides, but none of them deserves to take you by the hand and take you where they want you to go. You’ve heard the saying, you can lead a horse to the stream, but you can’t force it to drink. Well, news flash, you’re not a horse, you’re a human being. If you’re a Christian, then you have the self-same mind as Christ, you have the Holy Spirit, and you have the Bible. David records that God’s word is a lamp unto his feet, a light unto his path. That means your present and your future situations, God’s got it all covered. He can use people and has especially placed spiritual leaders there to shepherd you. But you must only follow people, as they follow Christ. John’s disciples were with him one day, and then Jesus walked by, John said behold the Lamb of God; and his disciples left him and followed after Christ (John 1 35-46). Your gatekeepers should be John to you, a bridge to Christ, not the destination.
Finally (yes, we’re doing like our Pastors do in closing, come and beat us…lol), just to point out some illustrations. Beyoncé released a live album and has a streaming deal with Netflix. She made an arrangement with Coachella, to be paid only 4 million dollars, in exchange for owning the content of her performances, which she then used in partnership with Netflix. Some social media “business consultants” heard this and immediately started calling Bey an Entrepreneurial genius. Simply for the fact that she refused to be paid-off. Sounds smart, doesn’t it? Maybe, but nobody knows yet. Nobody knows if she’ll be able to make back the extra millions Coachella would’ve paid her. Nobody seems to be considering that Netflix as a platform is really a largely hit or miss affair. She’s taking on risk in the millions here. Is it brave? Yes. Is it the sign of a true entrepreneurial mind? Maybe. But a ‘successful’ entrepreneurial mind? That’s to be determined, yet social media has already declared a verdict. Ariana Grande is just an entertainer, and Beyoncé is a businesswoman, for doing something no one knows the outcome.
There’s a popular song with lyrics that goes something like ‘…the scammers are scamming the scammers now’. Well, the silly is silly with the silly now. Last week a video was circulated about a girl who was trying to say Nigerian parents shouldn’t force their kids to go to school; that School in Nigeria is a scam. Now, because this girl misstated an idiom, everyone concluded that she was wrong. If she had gone to school, she wouldn’t make such a blatant mistake, therefore school isn’t a scam. We take no sides on this matter, but while it may appear the public is right on the surface, there’s more at play here than meets the eye. The reality is that this girl, more than likely, went to primary and secondary school, and yet she speaks poorly. Even if this isn’t the case, we all know people who possess degrees from Higher Institutions and still speak poorly. Doesn’t that, in itself, lend credence to the girl’s poorly put argument? The point here isn’t to deride people’s conclusions, it is to state that we must escape this disease of “group think”. We must stop letting anything/anyone lead us by the hand as we follow along faithfully. Such a position in our lives should be reserved for Jesus, and Jesus alone.