Audio Transcript

On Instagram, most of us are happy if 20 or 30 people “like” any given picture we post. We’re back with hip-hop artist Trip Lee, and Trip, some of your pics go over 10,000 likes on Instagram! Social media stats like these beg us — just beg us — to compare ourselves to everyone else and to quantify our popularity — which, of course, is pure vanity. So speak to nobodies, like me, about fame, and particularly about this idea that popularity is the key to happiness? Speak from the inside.

I think that is one of the really dangerous things about social media. With our kind of hearts that love the praise of men, it has always been dangerous. But now, as you said, there is this kind of automatic way that I can, at any moment, know exactly what people think about what I just said, or what I just did, or this picture that I just took. I don’t have to wait to ask anybody. I can, second by second, see how many people think it is impressive.

And from my side, as somebody who has a larger social media following, I think the main thing I want people to know is that no amount of likes really satisfies. There is no like, “Okay, when I get that 10,000 likes, that is when my heart is really satisfied.

Never Satisfied

And we see principles like this in Scripture. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with.” And that is because we will always want more. It is vanity, chasing after wind. And I guess you could really say the same thing: He who loves social media likes or retweets will never be satisfied by it. And that is because when our real hunger is for that recognition from man, then enough is never going to be enough. If that is what we really hunger for, there is never going to be that magic amount of recognition that will mean enough for us.

My level of social media fame is laughable compared to others who have millions of followers and get hundreds of thousands of likes. But even they can look back to someone else in history who is more famous than them or somebody else on social media, and it is an endless cycle of comparison and unsatisfied desires. I can look at friends of mine even who have a larger social media following than me, and I look at them, and they still haven’t reached some level of perfect happiness. And so, I think we really have to fight that thing in our heart that wants to be satisfied by that.

Take a Step Back

I can think of seasons where I have personally felt that I needed to step back from social media because I was liking the likes and the retweets too much, because I would maybe tweet something, and see a bunch of retweets, and it would give me this little burst of joy and satisfaction and would make me feel good about myself. And I was starting to see that that was what was really kind of defining me; that’s where I was finding my identity. That is what made me feel valuable and worth something in that day. And when I don’t watch my soul, I can feel myself getting really addicted to that, addicted to the praise of man.

And it is really dangerous, whether it is some social media, or at your job, or your family with your spouse. When we get addicted to the praise of man, it is very dangerous, because that praise begins to dictate our decisions. We will behave or tweet or preach or rap or whatever, we will do it based on what will get us the most praise from men instead of what will please God. And that can happen really quick and that can happen without us even noticing, and it kills our faith, because that is where we start to run to for joy. And it really kills our obedience really quickly and desensitizes our souls and we begin to reorient our life around the wrong things.

So I think social media is amazing, but because we are sinners, just like in every area of our life, there are things you really have to guard against, and that is one of them for me. The fear of man is a struggle for me. And so I always have to fight against that.

Yes, and how long were those seasons of pulling back?

Sometimes it may be just a week or two. There was one time when it was a couple of months. Maybe I would still tweet. I would schedule them, but I would just erase the apps from my phone so that I wouldn’t be tempted to go and look at everybody’s responses to my tweets and posts at all times.

(@TripLee) is an author, teacher, hip-hop artist, and thought leader. He is also a pastor in Atlanta and regularly preaches and teaches at Christian conferences and events.