The Internet Makes Us All Miserable
- Stephen Altrogge Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA
- 2014 16 Jan
Once upon a time, jealousy and comparison and coveting was limited to the people you knew.
Your neighbor gets a new car; your car is a lousy piece of crap; you feel jealous. Your coworker gets a raise; you’ve worked your tail off without getting a raise; you feel worthless and angry. Your church friends have wonderful, tastefully decorated houses, like snapshots out of Real Simple magazine. Meanwhile, your house is like something out of Prisons and Penitentiaries magazine, which makes you feel like a failure. Your brother’s kids are respectful, well-behaved kids, who say, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’ve memorized all of Ephesians.” Your kids make poop jokes at the dinner table.
In the good old days of jealousy and comparison and coveting, we compared ourselves to those close to us. When someone near to us succeeded, we felt like a failure.
But the good old days are gone. Now, thanks to the Internet, we can feel like failures all the time.
When you get on Pinterest, you are instantly assaulted by tasteful Mason jars, beautifully sculpted furniture, immaculate hair braids, and gourmet foods. Meanwhile, your house is decorated in a style called “Wal-Mart,” and you are serving your kids gourmet mac ‘n cheese.
Things aren’t much better on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Every day hundreds of people post about the awesome life they are living. Newly engaged couples post photos of themselves sitting together, foreheads touching, fingers intertwined. Meanwhile, you’re single, with no prospects other than a full Netflix queue. Parents give a shout out to their four year old, who just learned one hundred Latin words. Meanwhile, you’re still trying to potty train your four year old (that would be me). Your fellow writing buddy posts that he just signed a book deal. You’re still trying to get someone other than your mom to read your blog. A woman in your church publicly thanks the Lord for helping her lose one-hundred pounds. You spend your days wearing sweatpants and gym shorts.
Is it wrong for people to post happy status updates and photos? No, of course not. We should rejoice with those who rejoice. We should give thanks when someone gets engaged, loses a lot of weight, or signs a book deal.
But the Internet has dramatically, exponentially increased the temptation to compare ourselves to others.
It’s time to stop playing the comparison game.
Every time you open your browser or app, remember:
- You are fully, completely, one-hundred percent accepted by God. This acceptance is rooted in the finished work of Christ, not your parenting skills, decorating skills, body type, or relational status. You don’t need to be like anyone else to be accepted by God. God accepts you in Christ, and that is enough.
- God has a specific, good plan for your life. God’s plan will lead you through specific dark valleys and to specific green pastures. These valley and pastures are particularly shaped by God for you. Don’t try to fight your way to someone else’s green pasture, all the while ignoring the pasture God has prepared for you.
- You are called to be faithful to teach your kids about the Lord. You’re not called to teach your kids Latin, the names of all fifty [states], the geography of the African plains, or the history of classical literature. If you want to teach your kids those things, great. But your primary calling is to teach your kids about the Lord. Stay faithful to your calling and God will be pleased.
- You are called to serve faithfully in whatever sphere God has placed you. On the final day, God will reward you based on how faithfully you used the talents he gave you. He won’t reward you based on how well everyone else did.
Don’t let the Internet make you miserable. Don’t let the Internet determine how you see yourself. Serve faithfully and let God be the judge.