Narcissism, Social Media, Christianity and Me


I knew I was in trouble even before I began reading a very thought-provoking post on social media by Mitch Joel, Confessions of a Narcissist brought to my attention by Mike Hyatt.  The title alone was convicting. In his post, Joel unplugs from the Matrix long enough to see what we have often feared would happen: a feeding frenzy of the cult of ME. Social media has empowered narcissism to a new level and given it legs to run amuck. He poignantly writes:

The true destination for most of our online endeavors really are the new media equivalent of the biblical statues that were presented as deities. These digital shrines that we create to ourselves.

narcissism, social media, christianity Maurilio Amorim

The post hit  a nerve with me. Intellectually I know that social or any type of media is inherently neutral. Unlike some who believe Facebook, and Twitter and whatever new social network a 19 year-old starts tomorrow are the new paths to destruction, I realize they are just tools. They serve us; however, we feed them.

I think Mitch Joel is right. We are narcissistic. No, I am narcissistic. Too often my interaction with people is more about me than anyone else.

But what if those of us who claim to be Christ followers decided to redeem our social media footprint for a cause greater than the pursuit of notoriety?

That’s the same question we should ask about the pursuit of riches, influence, knowledge or anything else in our lives. I’ve been fortunate to have known people who made millions so they could give away millions, some who are influential so they could speak for those without a voice. But am I pursuing an ever-growing online audience for their sake instead of mine? Are you?

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you have read my diatribes on the pitfalls of bad strategy, or the lack thereof, in projects, businesses, and churches. Some of us even have a sophisticated business strategy for our social media presence, but what about a faith one?

What kind of impact could Christians have if we were more interested in helping a world in pain than in how good we look to our digital friends? That’s the question I’ll be wrestling with for the next few days.

How can we redeem our online presence without becoming weird, obnoxious or confrontational?

  • Amen!!! You hit the nail on the head!!! Social Media is an amazing tool for spreading the truth of God's word – but it has a pitfall that we must guard ourselves against.

    I am reminded of Jeremiah 45:5 which says "Seek great things for thyself. Seek them not."

    It is so tempting to make social media all about ourselves. After appearing on the Rachael Ray Show, I was contacted by a few people, with opportunity to earn money off of my blog – which is a non-profit ministry blog. It's tempting but I know it would muddy the waters for me personally (I hold no judgement on those who do – this is a personal preference) as I want to stay focused to my original intent. And I never intended for my blog to actually "grow". Who knew?

    I don't know what my future holds but I am fighting the urge to seek great things for myself. But rather to seek great things for God.

    Great post!

    • Great word, Courtney. Thanks for stopping by. So is Rachel Ray as perky off camera as well? 🙂

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  • I have to agree with you here too. Since becoming a blogger about a year ago I have fought this narcissism with everrthing I have. Recently I even took a social media break because I realized that I was letting it control me instead of the other way around. I walked away from that break knowing that if God wants to grow my influence, He is going to grow me first, and at least for this season, He's going to do it without a Social Media obsession. Since releasing this to God I have had such peace. Yes, the desire to "be out there" and "be recognized for my work" still floats in from time to time, but I'm fighting it now rather than embracing it and allowing it to control me. Refusing to be controlled by my own narcissim.

    Thanks friend. My first time on your blog…I'll be ccoming back.

    • I agree with that social media can become an obsession. Sometimes a social media fast helps to get us unplugged long enough to see how desperate for attention we really are.

  • "How can we redeem our online presence without becoming weird, obnoxious or confrontational?" – By not becoming weird, obnoxious or confrontational. Easier said than done, it seems. Great thoughts. Much to think about.

  • This is a good check for me. I do wonder about this and it's probably always going to be the temptation that keeps us honest on our better days.

  • Solution is simple. Be true to God. And after that, be true to one's self. Choose to be CONTENT with that, regardless of adulation and applause.

    My own blog is not a powerhouse website. But it is what I have to work with. And that's just it: the work is ours… but the results are God's.

    With that borne in mind, it becomes easy to focus it on Him, and not on one's own efforts. It is actually quite a liberating thing: with that kept in mind I can be the blogger that God made and expects me to be. No compromises. And more often than not it's outrageous good fun 🙂

  • My first time on your blog as well and I appreciate this post. Like Brooke, I also took a break (mainly from Twitter) for a while because I began to see the dangerous potential it had to feed a desire to develop the cult of Me. After completely deleting my Twitter account for a while, I truly felt peace and gained some perspective. Coming back to Twitter now, I am looking at it as a fun way to connect with others and that's about it. I had to come to a point where I realized that I am not that important and what I have to say is not that important. It is not about building a following or getting my message out there. That is taking myself way too seriously and thinking I am way more important than I really am. Same holds true with my blog. Yes, I love writing and encouraging others. And my hope is that people would read…but ultimately, as long as God is pleased with me…that's all that matters – whether I have one reader or ten or twenty or thousands. Really great post!

    • It looks like you've come up with a great personal strategy. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  • Dan Reeves

    Here are some ways we could/should be using social media: Advocacy for others in need, scriptural edification in love and humility, prayer and by bringing up topics that help us to reflect on our behaviors – perhaps if we struggle, other may also. Or, others may have wise counsel to provide – kind of like a real community. We must be intentional. And, I think that is where we fail often. Our plans become our intentions and feel right to do. But, do they cloud our vision of what He would have us do? So, good post. Challenging. I do think these tools ofter a chance for community that would be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

    • Social media offers us a great opportunity that no currently no other medium does, and I'm with you, we must be intentional.

  • Tom Jamieson

    Great thoughts and so true! It is so easy to become a slave to social media instead of a slave to Christ. May we never forget Who we serve and that it is He who paid the ultimate price through His death, burial, and resurrection.

    Press on…..

  • While it's a fun tool to keep up or connect with people we rarely get to see, or haven't seen in years, I'm afraid social media has caused us to take ourselves and what we think and do far too seriously – even when it IS about helping those in pain. All of it can become "look what I did" if we aren't careful. I'm certainly guilty of it, and have also hidden, deleted or unfollowed others because of it.

    • So now I know why you blocked me from you Twitter account. 🙂

  • Great thoughts. I've had trouble with this because in the past when I've done surveys of readers the #1 thing they don't like in every survey is when I write about human trafficking or something other than the struggles I'm facing in my walk. When I'm being transparent about my life's struggles I get a lot of positive comments. When I try to rally folks against human trafficking…very little.

    • I think that is because it convicts and takes them outside their comfort zone…but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Our job is to do what Christ call us too-we're not responsible for others reactions.

    • Jason, I hear you. One of my most read blog posts is about goofy church names. Often when I pour my heart out, no one cares.

  • Being new to Twitter and not a writer, but a struggling leader in a small business, I first saw Twitter as a way to help my business. I am coming around to understand that it is more an opportunity to maybe give back from my experiences, both good and bad. Those experiences also include my Christ following. I have to be myself in all things, including my digital self. Those who might say that Twitter and other social media is not for the spreading of the gospel, can always unfollow who does not speak to them.

    First time at your blog, I'll be back.

  • This is why I DON'T write a blog. It's a struggle with just managing facebook and twitter posts…keeping them appropriately focused…which doesn't always work too well. 🙂

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  • thegypsymama

    Perhaps we open our arms wide and say, "In this small space, where I exist on line, you are loved and you are safe. Let's share our chase for Jesus together. In community."

  • "How can we redeem our online presence without becoming weird, obnoxious or confrontational?"

    I don't know that we can. I don't think Jesus was ever worried about being considered weird, obnoxious and definitely not confrontational. Just the fact that we are worried about being these things indicates that we're focused on what people think of us. Christ wasn't and we shouldn't be. Being focused on Christ's mission of loving others and doing His work will never be popular if we're doing it as Christ did.

    • Pat~

      In a sense I see what you're saying, Jennifer; disciples of Christ are not about being popular or culturally hip. But I'm thinking what Maurilio may have meant by that question is 'how can we interact with people the way Jesus did – or might today, if HE were online?' Jesus was not weird, obnoxious, or confrontational with the people He related to daily–think about the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, the centurion with the sick daughter, the blind beggars, etc. He was gentle yet strong, wise but simple, and spoke with authority, though never with arrogance. He also did not feel the need to argue with everyone who disagreed with Him in an eternal, vigorous debate, yet He answered all honest questions fully with a few well-chosen words–often in the form of another question. This is a timeless communication model, whether person to person or online, I think.

  • PaulSteinbrueck

    Hey Maurilio, very thought-provoking post. I think you made a great point when you wrote…

    "That’s the same question we should ask about the pursuit of riches, influence, knowledge or anything else in our lives."

    Social media isn't really all that different than any of these other "powers." We can use them for good but if we're not careful they can enslave us.

    My suggestions would be:

    a) Do a periodic self-check and ask yourself whether you're becoming obsessed with yourself on social media. How often do I check your follower/friend count or ratings? Do I post stuff just to get comments/replies?

    b) Because we're all good at self-deception, have an accountability partner ask you those same sorts of questions, preferably someone who is active in social media, understands the issue, and engages with you online.

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  • todshuttleworth

    If we are truly trying to serve our readers, then our social media is good. We must lead and post with a servant's heart.

    • You're so right. I'm good at deceiving myself and disguising my selfishness as servant-leadership.

  • Ben Malmin

    Thank you for the thoughts shared via quality questions, Maurilio! Jesus communicated with questions. So very helpful. Believers involved with social media should be asking these questions.

    You're right, these are simply tools in our hands. They can serve as reflection. Walking our daughter to her first day of school today I was struck by the fact that she reflects my wife and I. Of course she is much more than a reflection. She's her own beautiful person, but you get the point.

    We moved from west to east coast to start a church from scratch (this past week) – so it's a new school for her as a second grader.

    This move caused me to create a blog, twitter, and use facebook – primarily to help people at "home" stay updated with us. Honestly, I've struggled with using these tools for that purpose. It's just felt too ME focused. I've asked myself if this reflects Christ.

    We want to help others know how to pray, but we've chosen to be a bit more selective with it all. We're sending direct email for this purpose. After several months, I've just migrated towards using these tools primarily for "causes".

    It's great to use it for humor, here and there (which I try to do), but using these tools for "helping a world in pain" seems like a more rewarding effort.

    Still searching for the answers in Baltimore. Definitely using social media, but I don't think my twitter is going to help the couple shouting at each other, as we walked away from the school today. I think God wants me to do something about that face to face. Pray, love, and be a real simple honest "Jesus in the flesh".

    We all need help. We all need questions like this, to refocus.


    • I love humor in social media. I used it often because sometimes the best thing you can five someone is the gift of laughter in the middle of a tough day. I pray that God will use in Baltimore. By the way, moving from the west coast to Baltimore can only be explained as a calling from God! 🙂

      • Ben Malmin

        This is true. So happy to be living on mission! My sister (and fam) live, work, serve in Cambodia. My three year old son helps with the sense of humor, but I never figured out how to tweet about potty training. Suggestions?

  • Pete Orta

    I agree, I agree, I agree…

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  • Walk Humbly

    We can redeem our online presence without becoming weird, obnoxious, or confrontational and we can maintain our real-world presence through the application of the very simple, yet very difficult-to-live-out words from God through the prophet Micah. "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." —Micah 6:8

  • Bret Pemelton

    WOW!! and OUCH!!

    I initially was excited about Facebook for all the "re-connecting" I 've been able to obtain. Even created a few new friends. However, I've recently discovered that I like to insert myself into the equation with my banter when responding to others posts, even though most of it is self depreciating, it made me question my motives. I know it's mainly because I'm a laughter junkie. I live for that "LOL".

    I've recently decided to start a blog, mainly with the intent to develop my writing. The funny thing is that this is one of the reasons I quit the music business (well, that and the fact that I was dropped) but I was all consumed by it and what others could do for me. When I finally detoxed I discovered there's a whole world out there.

    …I will be probably be fiighting that same temptation. hmmm! lot's to chew on here.

    Thank you, Maurilio.

  • Bret Pemelton

    One last comment, I agree we should always strive to further the kingdom, however, please don't simply post scripture or quotes from Oswald Chamber etc.. people hunger for transparency. We want to know how your doing and feeling, it's in those moments that we can be Jesus with skin on.

    • That's a good point. I appreciate a great quote from time to time, but I want to know the real person behind the tweet.

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  • Keep writing and being honest and transparent. My pastor's blog grew out of a similar need. It's a great way to reach out to your community as well as to people around the world.

  • PaulSteinbrueck

    I saw this a few minutes ago and it reminded me of your post here. If the potential for narcisism wasn't great enough with Twitter, how about watching a parade of your Twitter followers. LOL!

    • Wow. That's freaky and much like a train wreck, I can't look away. I do love the part where the followers are carrying a giant version of me, however. 🙂

      • PaulSteinbrueck

        Yeah, that part put it over the top for me. 🙂

  • cshell

    Been a lurker for some time…thank you for this post. Very thought provoking…and just another reminder (man it never stops) of how selfish and full of pride i really am.

  • Angela

    This really speaks directly to the heart of everyone. The problem is, when you try to use the media to bless others with either quotes, Bible verses, or attempt to use the media to engage others in a spiritual conversation, it often turns confrontational – even if that was never the intention. Would love to know how to engage an audience in a serious spiritual discussion without attracting the "wolves in sheep's clothing" if you know what I mean.

    • in my experience if the only communication you have online is a spiritually-charged one, people will run for the digital hills. Most of the time people need to connect with the person before connecting to the message. I would try to be truly interested in them and allowing them to see my faith in the context of my daily life and share a word of encouragement and wisdom when it's appropriate.

  • keithcarpenter

    I love the thoughts as I try to navigate the necessity of my own online presence. I am told I must tweet, blog and face-it-all. But do I? So I have not used the web to try to reach an audience or to teach and convict, because I really don't think there is a large group of people coming to Christ because of what they read online, I might be wrong. A transformed heart still requires a personal touch from a personal God and he uses human hands to do this most of the time. But not always, in comes the radio, TV, internet and now smart phone.
    I use the web, twitter and my blog to think and write as I tangibly touch the world around me day after day and if there is a chance that someone happens past my 12 pt, Arial font, script and makes a life decision to follow after Christ, praise God for using the "tool" that has been spoken of.

    • God uses all of what we are for His purposes, and to me that includes tweets, posts or text messages. None of us can quantify how many spiritual conversations and ultimately decisions that have grown out of a tweet. You obviously have a gift in expressing your heart with the written word. I would not discount that. Sometimes the post is not for others, but for you. Today's post was written as a confession and as I worked out my own issues with social media. Thanks for stopping by.

  • jonibh

    Thoughtful post. It's important to reminder that transparency is a gift that brings with it great responsibility. This new age of communication requires more, not less, restraint although all too often "we" give into our impulses to be spontaneous–as spontaneous as Twitter (and other mediums) now allow.

  • Ken Sien

    This is a tough situation. The two challenges with social media are that: 1) It takes us away from intereacting directly with people, face to face, where we can exchange information immediately. You will read my posting in the next day or two, then it will take me another day or two to read your posting. It's difficult to keep our minds focused on the conversation when we are talking about our Christian faith, and 2) Spending time on the computer takes us away from spending time with the Lord and listening to Him. The time we spend on the computer typing our own opinions takes us away from the One whose opinion we should really be listening to, God. I admit that I am guily of this.

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