Sometimes I struggle with social media performance anxiety – the pressure to create an amazing online brand through witty comments and brilliant ideas.

Although I have spent years using social media personally, it was only recently – when I got to write a book – that I felt pressure to find more “friends” and “followers.” The pressure increased when I read blogs about building a platform and increasing online readership and engagement. Although social media felt easy in the past, suddenly it was stressful and difficult.

Today, I realized why I feel performance anxiety. I recognized a familiar feeling from middle school – the desire to be liked. Do you remember that feeling? Do you remember being in the lunchroom or gym, hoping that people would like you? I do and I thought I had finally become better than that – better than desiring to be one of the “cool kids.” I guess not.

At the core of performance anxiety is a lie that I won’t be good enough on my own. It’s a form of insecurity in who I am as a person, and more importantly who I am in Christ. It’s an attempt to be who I’m not – a desire to be someone else.

It’s the same temptation that Jesus faced in the desert. “Bow to me,” Satan said, “and I will give you all of the power and influence the world has to offer!”

For the new generation of influencers, the kingdom of the world is social media and building a platform. And the temptation that we face, like Jesus, is to give up on who we are and what we are supposed to do, and pursue power and influence. We see people like the Charity Waters and Michael Hyatts of the world – people with huge platforms and influence – and we think that is who we should be.

So what do we do? We try to act like them and talk like them. We post comments on Facebook that we would never say normally. We tweet quotes that we don’t like because they will get retweeted. And every time we do this, we forget a little bit about who we are, and we log off with a headache and a gut-ache knowing that our masks have become a little more permanent. And when a twitter follower leaves or a Facebook friend unlikes our page, it hurts. We literally feel like a failure. Like we are going backwards.

I’m not saying that building a platform is evil, it’s not. Social media is an excellent tool to influence people and bring them closer to God. When social media becomes a bad thing, is when we adopt the middle school emotion of needing to be liked, and end up sacrificing our personality and character to be popular.

I struggle with this, but I’m realizing that social media is kind of like going to the gym. At the gym, there are always people stronger and weaker than I am. And when it comes to social media, there are always people with bigger and smaller platforms. But we don’t rate success at the gym based on how we compare to other people – if we do that, we will always be insecure with our strength, skill, and flexibility. We base our success on the journey – where have we come from and where are we going. “I ran 1-mile last week, and this week I ran 2-miles! Wahoo! Success!”

I think social media is the same way: if I do my best and be authentic – it’s not about who has more followers, subscribers, or friends – it’s about how I am utilizing the platform I have to bring people closer to God. Am I serving people through love? Or am I trying to be popular?

What if social media success is not based on the numbers, but on the quality of information, photos, and videos we offer our followers?

What do you think? Begin the conversation, comment below… 

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