Several months ago, my brother Matt was scrolling through the infamous Instagram Explore page. Because of the way the Instagram algorithm works, what you see on your Explore page is largely as a result of who you follow, and the people they follow, and the things Instagram thinks you’re all interested in. My brother, being a dude, follows a lot of other dudes. And because they’re dudes, the Instagram algorithm thinks what they want to see most is a lot of scantly, bikini clad, sexual photos and videos of women.
On that particular day, what Matt saw on his Explore page caused him to put his phone down and make some observations about how he was feeling. And in that moment, he renamed the Instagram Explore page, “The Death Page.”
Today, he shared those thoughts with me, and after our conversation, he allowed me to put his thoughts down on paper to share them with you.
This is what Matt said—
“Here’s the thing. The Explore page— it never ends. You can keep scrolling for hours and you never get to the end of it. When you finally leave it, you’re left comparing yourself, tempted with sexual sins, and coveting what others have. After spending time scrolling through the Explore page, my soul felt downcast. I felt grimy and gross, asking myself questions like: ‘why couldn’t I have what they have? I deserve that.’ I felt entitled. The Explore page never built me up; I never left it feeling uplifted or encouraged. It’s a time waster and a black hole of death. It’s the death page, it’s where your soul goes to die. You get in, and you can’t get out. And when you do, you don’t emerge any better than when you went in.”
That day he made the decision to kill the death page, and hasn’t allowed himself to look at it since.
But there was something else, too. There were some pages he was following, “meme” accounts, that had some genuinely funny and entertaining content. Accounts like @f***jerry, @barstoolsports, @daquan, @betches and similar meme accounts are known for their funny and relatable posts that are widely shared across many social media outlets. And many of them have some pretty innocent and honestly hilarious posts from time to time.
But Matt found himself following those accounts and feeling just as dingy and down by the content they produced. Because for every clean and harmless post, there were 5-10 posts that were vulgar, sexual, violent, and downright gross. Matt said, “I realized that a couple of funny posts wasn’t worth what the accounts did to my soul for all the other crap they put out there. My relationship with the Lord is worth more than just a couple of laughs.”
So he unfollowed them.
And just as a quick side note, I spent some time researching some of these meme pages like @mytherapistsays, @sarcasm_only, @thefatjewish and others (there are literally countless accounts like these) and I realize they’re not all “bad.” But for the most part, the posts tend to highlight and glorify qualities like laziness, irresponsibility, selfishness, and apathy. On top of that, most of the posts parade crude and vulgar language with loads of sexual overtones, most of them not so subliminal. I’m not scared to admit that even in my research I found myself laughing at some of the posts, but I have to agree with Matthew. A few funny and relatable posts aren’t worth what it does to feed myself the ideas that it’s okay to not care about others, it’s normal and acceptable to be irresponsible, and everyone is entitled to everything, so I can be too. Seriously, take some time (not too much) to gander those posts. See if you can spot in your own heart how, amidst the superficially “funny,” you’re being told that it’s okay to be late to work, rude to authority, and petty towards people.
Back to Matt. Ever since his death page experience, he’s taken stock of who he follows and what their posts do to his spirit. If it doesn’t profit him, he’s given himself permission to unfollow people and accounts that are dangerous to his soul.
The biggest take away here is that what we allow ourselves to see is ultimately feeding our souls. The Bible is full of warnings and instructions for how we ought to take great heed of what we see, say, and hear. The Instagram Death Page, and certain accounts in specific, but social media in general, are just some of the many obstacles our generation is facing when it comes to guarding and protecting our hearts. Taking simple but powerful steps— like kissing the Explore ‘death’ page goodbye, and smashing the unfollow button— will go a long way in not only obeying Gods Word, but in enjoying the beautiful life he has for us to live.
Jesus died on the cross for you to know just how valuable and beautiful you are. He died to give you a life of fulfillment and joy, not one of anxiety and depression. Jesus wants nothing but an abundance of life for you— a life full of HIM. Fill yourself up with Jesus and leave the morsels of comparison and time wasting to the dogs. That stuff isn’t for you. Seek him first and fully. Be diligent and watchful about what you watch and digest. Give your calling and purpose in life the rightful urgency it has to be fulfilled. Cut yourself off from things that don’t give you life…real life. Good life. Abundant life.
Step into that life today by cutting off the chains of comparison that hold you down when you scroll through the Explore page. Refuse to waste any more time in the Black Hole of Nothingness (another good name for the Explore page). Grab ahold of the good things God has for you by letting go of entitlement and selfishness produced from content that’s no good for you. You have the right to claim peace and sweetness over your life, and it starts with this— killing death with the Life of Christ.
“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” — John Owen.