“Likes” & Worth

Essena O’Neil.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. I didn’t know who the blazes this girl was either.

BUT: For the past several days, her name and her story have been absolutely exploding all over my social media feeds: “Social Media Star Quits Instagram, Revealing it’s a Sham.” “‘Dream Life’ Not So Dreamy.” “Leaving Behind the Likes” blah blah blah The headlines were quite literally inescapable.

So I clicked.

Long story short, this Australian “Instagram Model” ((that’s a thing apparently)) is “quitting” social media because she was tired of projecting her life as a dream, and feeling that her worth was tied to her “likes” and “followers.” Bluntly put, she “was miserable.” ((Her words, not mine!))

You can read the full story here.

And even though, –I’ll say what everyone is thinking– this may just be a publicity stunt, I actually found myself thinking about her story…and surprise, surprise…how it relates to recovery.

You see, my heart was moved by her story. She was finding her worth in her “status”on social media — how many “likes” she got, how many “followers” she had. And she kept striving for perfection in all of her posts to grow that “worth.”

And the more I thought about it…that was exactly my life in my anorexia. I was finding my worth in perfection: In attaining the “perfect body.” The “perfect” grades, boyfriend, social position, extracurriculars, personality, etc. At my core, I honest-to-God believed that the only way I deserved or was worthy of love was by obtaining perfection.

And I found myself on a treadmill at high speed, that I just couldn’t get off of – both literally and figuratively.

And I have a slight inkling that I’m not alone in that feeling.

Maybe you’re not dealing with an eating disorder, but the underlying theme is the same. People find their worth or validation in so many places that continually fall short and leave them feeling low. Climbing the corporate ladder, finding validation in material things (hello retail therapy?–guilty!), striving for the “perfect” marriage, or “perfect” relationship, or conversely: putting up with an abusive relationship because you find your worth tied to that twisted validation. Cars, clothes, shoes, technological gadgets, different “country club memberships,” validation from the beds of random strangers, the bottom of a bottle, the hardest workout, or you name it – all are things we seek to find our worth and value in.

Every. Single. Person, whether they want to admit it or not, in some way, shape or form, has a way to define their worth. Has a way to validate their existence. Ranging from “likes” on Instagram, to anorexia.

Here’s what I came away with:

All of those things leave us short. They will never truly make us feel validated or make us feel worthy. Because at the end of the day, there is really only one thing that can validate us and show us our worth.

And that one thing: is Jesus.

I’m not going to whack you over the head with it. If you want to read more in depth about this, I would suggest this post on being broken and bought, or this post on being worthy.

This girl, O’Neil, in “quitting” Instagram, described how free she felt. How she feels a burden is lifted and she can truly be herself.

Pause button for a sec: Friends: those feelings are from quitting Instagram. Imagine the intensity of those feelings if you were to let go of the “false validators” in our own lives. Imagine the feeling we’d get by resting in the peace of knowing that our worth is not defined by anything we did or didn’t do, but rather, simply by the fact that we are immensely loved by God.

If only that were blowing up our news feeds.

So I just invite you to take an inventory of your heart: Honestly, where do you find your worth and value? Is it through the eyes of someone else, through the lens of an eating disorder or other addiction?

And if so, just consider this:

Consider that none of those things truly define your worth. Jesus does. He already did. On the Cross.

So there’s no need to strive to the point of exhaustion to validate or earn your worth. Free yourself from those chains.


58 responses to ““Likes” & Worth”

  1. I really liked this blog! The struggle for perfection is real among so many of us that struggle with addictions, depression, anxiety, etc. For me, it has always been tied to people liking me and in particular my mother, who I now understand will never be able to validate me in the way I have needed my entire life. I have always had a believe in God and Jesus but maybe if I strengthen that relationship I can let go of the past. Anyway, thank you for this blog, it was very thought provoking for me!

    • Thank you so much Karen. I appreciate you sharing your heart. Validation is a funny thing. It feels so needed and yearned for, and can really trip is up if we don’t get it, especially from loved ones. But honestly, where I found peace was in letting go of that need for perfection and just resting in the fact that my weakness is made strong through Him. Thanks so much for stopping by this morning! Hugs to you friend xx

  2. I walked away from Facebook and Twitter two years ago. It certainly can be called an addiction, with highs and lows based on friend requests, likes, and other things. There was always a let down when I didn’t get any traffic. I finally just got fed up with myself and the fickleness of Facebook friends, preferring the friends who actually made the effort to visit me in person. People who truly put value in me for just me and not what I posted online.
    But as you said in your post, our true value comes from Jesus Christ. We all seek validation from the world, ever pursuing things and achievements in the hope of claiming a lasting value for ourselves only to learn that even the greatest achievements and fame are fleeting and leave us feeling empty. Only Jesus can fill the void in our lives.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. How awesome that you’ve let go of Twitter and Facebook. You’re so right: it’s hard to remember and actually accept, but our worth really is found in Him. Thanks for stopping by and offering this terrific insight!

  3. Exactly why I quit Facebook back in 2009. Too many conversations started with, “Have you seen/read on Facebook…” I got fed up with that. I wanted to SEE my friends in person and hear the stories from their own mouths. You know, actually being social and enjoy the time we have together. So sad how that is a rare thing today.

    I hope many young girls will read this post, and others like it, that they may start to think about where their worth lies: in the “likes” of the world or in Jesus Christ.

    Great post about- and to the generation of our society today!

    • Thank you so much:) I’m so glad this struck a chord with you. I agree–nothing beats in person friendships. Facebook is great for “keeping up with” loved ones from it of town, but nothing can replace a person to person interaction. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I love this post! You are so right. Our self-worth is often measured in the overly annoying world of social media. That is why I went MIA from fb over a year ago. I was getting stuck in the popularity contest trap of how many likes can I get, how many comments I would get on my wall, and so on and so on and so on. So what would happen if we all did find our self-worth in only Jesus and not other worldly things? I know what He did for me! No more numbers!!! Which is really weird for an engineer like me. But being free from even that is like walking on clouds. I only wish it were under different circumstances. Love & blessings.

    • Thank you so much Lizzy! Wow an engineer! What a cool job! Kudos to you fork getting off the fb train. You’re right – what He did is the soul source of our worth. Thanks for stopping by and for you lovely note of encouragement and support! Blessings!

      • As a sidenote… Why would a person leave one form of social media to throw out thoughts on another platform? I no longer thrive on the likes and comments. Even on my blog. If even one of my posts touches the life of only one person anywhere in this world, then I know I have done something for advancing the Kingdom of God. That is worth everything and is something we all could like.

  5. I love how you point everything back to Jesus–it all comes from him, is through him, and for him–our peace, our victory, ourselves. And you are brave–to bare your heart and your struggle to recovery–not for yourself, but for the glory of one who suffered and died and rose again. Thank you!

  6. Social media is like many things. All of them can be an entertaining pastime, but they can take over when there’s nothing else filling your life.

    These things in themselves aren’t the bad thing. The bad thing is that feeling of emptiness, and not feeling able to fill it.

    Ultimately, this lady found that adulation does not fill that spiritual part of your life. We’ve all discussed here what can.

    • You’re so right. We’ve got to keep social media as what it is: a fun way to share with friends, not the be-all-end-all. Thanks for your insight today! I’ve really enjoyed hearing your thoughts! 😊

  7. Just a historical reflection on this topic of perfection: The Athenians celebrated the concept of arete, or excellence. The idea was that we should strive to be excellent at all the things we do. The reason, I have come to understand, is that there is no better way to strengthen your will than by struggling against a problem that is insuperable.

    The challenge is realizing when its time to turn your will to other things. Other people may see it long before you do – that old “banging your head against a brick wall” verdict. But part of the struggle is to learn to see yourself as the problem sees you, not as other people do. It’s when we learn to shift into that perspective that we are liberated.

    The amazing thing about Jesus, of course, is that he took on our biggest phobia – the fear of death – and suffused it with love.

  8. As usual, you have written another insightful blog entry 🙂 Overall, I think social media is a mixed blessing. I will say that it has done a lot of good in making people (lonely or not) socialize more in a rather distant kind of way and as long as one is careful about who is following them, then they are in good hands. In other words, as long as one is super smart about who they talk to, they will be just fine. At the same time though, it has incited people to take advantage of the process by being mean to one another or saying hateful things or as you mention here, inciting an individual to fake who they are by being the most perfect person in the world in order to gain followers. I could go on and on, but overall, you have written something beautiful and insightful once again and keep up the great work as always 🙂

    • Thanks John, I appreciate it. You bring up a great point: we really do have to be careful about whom we interact with online. However, there are some Great aspects of it too. As an “out of town” family member, I love being able to keep up with my loved ones through pictures and fun texts. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings to you!

  9. Do not get me wrong, I love seeing people interact with each other through social media. I was mostly referring to those computer chatrooms that numerous teachers, doctors, the police, FBI and psychologists/psychiatrists etc. have warned every citizen since the Internet first hit the mainstream two decades ago. Otherwise, I love the Internet 🙂 In fact, I started becoming aware of your website when you visited my site cinematiccoffee.com – How I know this is because, I often look at who hit the like button under my posts and on you liked some of my posts so I felt like regularly following your posts (though I embarrasingly enough, do not know how to sign up for regular e-mails reminding of new posts). Without you visiting my site, I probably would not have discovered your wonderful site 🙂 And here I am 🙂 Anyway, I will continue to visit your site and leave positive comments as always and keep up the great work as usual and blessings to you as well 🙂

    • Same here! I don’t know where I’d be without being able skype with my family:) but you’re so welcome! I enjoy popping in and reading your blog as well! Thanks for stopping by, John! Have a greAt night!

  10. i gave up FB (not interested in Instagram nor Tweeter either) awhile ago, never looked back! i had listened to a teaching from Francis Chan called, ‘Taking Back What The Enemy Stole From Us”, and one of the things he brought up was social media how we live in a society where we dedicate a page to OURSELVES. i chose to start up a blog only page, because when i did have my FB account, i had a separate Christian-based page to share Jesus with others, and i had struggled with getting rid of my FB because my desire was to reach others through social media. either way, i’m glad i did and God has taken me down this path for now. 🙂

    • What great perspective. you’ve really given me something to think about! It sounds like you’ve really got a great thing going. Thanks for reading and for sharing! Blessings friend!

      • while i know FB can be a useful tool for some, as i did have the opportunity to network and even connect with new friendships that way, yet for myself i needed to get off that site for personal reasons. the T.M.I. drama, the backbiting comments from trolls, the nonstop celebrity news media i really had no interest in, etc-etc. as followers of Jesus we are called to focus on things that represent HIM, what is good, what is pure, what is righteous, and for me FB, Instagram, & Twitter are not any of those things that were benefiting my walk with Christ. 🙂

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