Today, we live in a “tell everyone” culture. Instagram, twitter, facebook, blogs all push us to record ourselves. Think about the trends we’ve seen unfold over the last 20 years or so:
We take hundreds of “selfies” on our phones.
It’s been calculated that the average Millennial will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. We love to record ourselves, on photos and in video. We even feel the need to capture how we look in everyday moments of the week.
We feel we must record our stories.
Millions find a way to document heir story and tell it to others. In the past, the autobiography ought to be the "preserve of the people who had something important to say" or who were of "lofty reputation.” Today—anybody can start a blog and write about themselves.
We build personal platforms to talk about our lives.
People create platforms for their lives, hobbies or interests. Thanks to social media, millions of platforms have been created so others can see who we are and what we’re doing.
The thought is do these realities foster a new kind of self-esteem? Does my desire to record my life signal a healthy posture to pass value on to others or does it indicate I’m starving for attention? Do these realities influence me to believe that my sense of identity must come from lots of “views” or “shares” or “likes” or “retweets?”
Is that our scorecard now?
Futurist Len Sweet writes in his book, Nudge, “We live in an attention-deficit culture more adept at gaining attention than at paying attention.”
I believe we live in a 21st century culture that fosters an identity problem. In generations past, our sense of identity was primarily drawn from:
- Finding where I fit in the bigger picture and how do I contribute there
- Demonstrating my worth by using my talents while on a team of people
- Belonging to a family and guarding the honor of the family’s reputation
How Can We Build True Identity?
I believe we feel best about ourselves, when we:
1. Discover our authentic talents and use them to add value to other people.
We will cultivate a robust self-esteem when we feel what it’s like to use our unique abilities to serve those less fortunate. The more we put others first in a me-first society, the more we will discover who we are and who God is.
Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
2. Connect to a name or cause that’s bigger than us and play a role in that cause.
Whether they know it or not, we long to “belong” to something bigger than ourselves. When we find a community that has a greater purpose and it's obvious I'm better when that community is together. Whether it's a family, I tried, the church, and organization or whatever place where your values lined up… Let those values be linked to a cause that you can believe in that goes beyond you.
He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD. Jeremiah 22:16
3. Rely on personal achievement, not just affirmation, to convey our value.
As someone who loves which affirmation I've come to realize that affirmation from others won't be enough. Identity is forged through doing something valuable with what we’ve been given.
Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
4. Attach our identity to something that cannot be taken away.
Connect your identity to something (your faith, your cause, your family, etc.) that can’t be stolen by others. Your identity should never depend on the opinion of another person alone. That’s why social media comments or popularity are not reliable or sustainable. I love that Mary chose the one thing that couldn't be taken from her and that was her connection to Jesus.
But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42
5. Become emotionally secure enough to compliment other’s gifts and value.
It's true that we actually feel better about ourselves when we can authentically praise someone else for their virtues, and stop constantly comparing our features.
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Any you would add?