True Confessions of a “Like” oholic

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I’ve never smoked crack, shot heroin or drank alcohol, but I have an addiction. Out of nowhere, it snuck up on me. Like the abrupt discovery of a fast-moving cancer, I realized, “Houston, we got a problem.”   

I’m a likeoholic and it’s crazy because just 10 years ago I was the woman who didn’t want a cell phone. “I don’t need one,“ I’d  argue. And then I became the one clinging to her flip phone, complete with basic service. “No I don’t send or receive text messages,” I’d say, to the shock of the hearer.  

Honestly, it was sheer bliss living in my cave next door to the Flintstones.  Who cared if the rest of the world tweeted, texted, or shared cyber messages across America?  I was content in the dark, until I tasted the 21st century, and liked it.

The progression was slow. First I upgraded to a smartphone, with a little Facebook stalking. But things began to snowball at the beginning of this year. I started a blog, and social media is a must-have if you’re a blogger, right?

And being the chronically type A female that I am, I dove into the deep end like Michael Phelps: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, oh my! I soon found myself looking like the rest of the world, with smart phone glued to one hand, and the opposite finger habitually scrolling through feeds in the other. I gotta update my status, need to upload a pic, and comment on that photo. Don’t forget the hashtags.  

Did I get any comments today? How many likes? Yes I got a few shares. Like a cyber junkie I now had thoughts competing for real estate in my brain that had never lived in the neighborhood before.

Now don’t get me wrong, as much as I love to see those numbers rise next to that little Facebook thumb, a part of me misses the simpler days. Nostalgic times when phones were used for conversation are becoming a reality of the past. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that long ago.  

And as far as I know there is no 12 step program for likeoholics; it’s a socially acceptable addiction. If someone sat in Starbucks snorting cocaine onlookers would call 911 immediately. In contrast, if every customer sat fixated on their phones for 12 hours straight no one would say a word.

We are a nation perpetually responding to the positive stimuli of social media. Like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the sound of a bell, we get an internal sensation every time we receive a like.  And there is no emergency intervention or mandatory rehab; the responsibility of self control lies with the individual. I have to police myself.  

To which I reply, “Whaaat?!”  With most things, I start out like a horse at the races, boldly proclaiming, “I’m gonna work out, watch what I eat, and be disciplined.” Often I find myself back where I started.

I am convinced the source of my sobriety lies in the why and the what. Why am I addicted?  What am I receiving from this post-like-obsession?  If I’m honest I must admit, it’s affirming to be liked.

We congregate on our pages like teens in high school asking with every update, picture, and post, “Do you like me?” Playing the one-up-game, we compete to see whose vacation, latest accomplishment, and foodie pic is better than everyone else. And depending on the response we receive, there is the potential to become a little puffed up with our cyberspace letterman jackets.

Sometimes I get caught up in it all. But there is a voice of truth gently speaking through the crowded World Wide Web. God, whose opinion trumps all others, says I liked you in your mother’s womb. If you never post another picture, update your status, hashtag or tweet, I will still love you.

We live in a world demanding performance in order to maintain our status of cool, hip, and liked. Yet, all the while we are trying to get affirmation from man we are already accepted by God. Independent from anything we do or say, He deems us valuable, loved, worthy, and important. So the next time I’m tempted to count my likes may I remember I’m loved and liked by God.

Kia Stephens

Writer at Father Swap
Kia Stephens is passionate about helping fatherless women. As a child of divorced parents she knows the damaging impact growing up without a father can have on a woman. For this reason, she created Father Swap to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father.

Latest posts by Kia Stephens (see all)

  • Nicole Walters

    Kia, I want to like your post but I don’t want to feed your addiction:) Thank you for this reminder that is much needed in the world today. I find this especially hard in the world of “platform building.” As a writer, we are told we have to have a following if we want any agent or editor to pay attention. It is a sneaky thing. We want to get those likes so that we can get our words out there to make a different. But if we aren’t careful, it can turn into writing for the likes instead. You are so right- the only solution is remembering our audience of one and that His affirmation is all that matters!

    • Say it again Nicole. I used to look in the Social Media fish bowl from the outside, and now I’m swimming around like everyone else. Prayer and my Bible keep me balanced most days as I try to build a platform without loosing my soul. My goal is to do those things first before I check social media or my website. It is definitely a journey but I am determined to be consistent. I’m so glad I am not alone. Be blessed! – Kia

  • It’s funny – Hilary Rushford just was discussing this during her CEO Happy Hour webinar yesterday. She asked, “Are you addicted to affirmation?” And earlier this week, I read an article about people going to rehab to treat Internet addiction. This is a good conversation to have right now, and this is a good word I haven’t heard anywhere else: “If you never post another picture, update your status, hashtag or tweet, I will still love you.”

    • Emily it is so relevant for me! I need to plaster that quote on my office wall because I need a little reminder every day. My worth comes from God!

  • Kia, well said! Thanks!!

  • This is great and a sobering reminder. I love “cyberspace letterman jackets” — great phrase! 🙂 I think you are right, we’re using the Internet to try to find love and “likes” and retweets are a poor substitute for love. I wonder, do you think we can be content to see real people’s love as enough? Or, will we keep running back to the Internet because it’s safer?

    • Ashley, more than real people my challenge is to see the God is enough, because people – just like the “likes” on Facebook – are fickle. There approval of me is contingent on what I do or say or post; it changes. My aim is to be filled to the brim with God’s acceptance so that I am not moved either way by man’s opinion of who I am. This is my hope whether the people I deal with are sitting next to me or somewhere out there in cyber space. Thanks for joining this conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • I relate to every word here. Thanks!

    • My pleasure Astrid. So glad you could relate. Be blessed! – Kia

  • I definitely need to bookmark this post and make myself read it now and then for a reminder.

    • Katie I wrote it and I could stand to book mark it too. Be encouraged lady – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Thanks for being honest. Be blessed! – Kia

  • This made me smile a lot! Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks Tanya I’m glad you got a little something from this piece. It was fun to write. Be blessed! – Kia

  • Ginger Sinsabaugh MacDonald

    Like.

    • Hee, Hee, that’s too funny Ginger. If this were Facebook I’d like your like.

  • Karen Brown

    Oh, this is so true. Facebook is like a drug, drip-dripping to create a stronger and stronger addiction. I have to make a very conscious effort to keep it in its place. Thanks for sharing these funny, but profound words.

    • Ooh “drug, drip-dripping” lovely use of words Karen and so true. I too have to make a conscious effort to monitor how I spend my time on Social Media. I am also realizing I can create content and post all day long but it is God that move people to like a post, retweet, or share words I’ve written. I just need to be faithful. I’m not there yet but I am determined to come to a place of peace with social media. Thanks for your honesty Karen and joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • Mary

    Thank you Kia for this powerful truth today. I need to confess I’m a “likeoholic” too. It is addicting to check my phone often for updates and likes. It’s scary how easy it is to get sucked in. I love the reminder that God will always love us and it doesn’t matter how many likes we receive on our status updates. Great words.

    • Mary you are amongst friends here – just read all the comments. Be encouraged and know I am walking this journey with you. I’m cheering you on from my little piece of cyber space. Way to be honest about your struggles with social media. I believe God can work with our honesty. Glad you joined the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  • Meg Gemelli

    Hi, my name is Meg and I am definitely a like-a-holic. I’ve had to put up some pretty hard and fast boundaries around my use of social media…timed intervals, closing out of internet when I’m writing, etc. This is a sweet post and a great reminder. “I liked you in your mother’s womb.” That part’s my favorite:)

    • Meg did you write this down in an ebook or put it in a post somewhere?!!!!!!! We need this guide for all to see. Seriously, I’m being funny but I’m sensing a book or something. Picture it, “Social Media Rehab for ‘Like’oholics”. It just might be a best seller. I love these practical ideas Meg. Thanks for joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • The most difficult thing about blogging for me is social media. It can be so overwhelming and time consuming. I love this: “So the next time I’m tempted to count my likes may I remember I’m loved and liked by God.” He is the one that truly matters :). Thanks for the reminder!

    • Candace I am reminding myself too. God knows, He sees, He is sovereign and FAITHFUL! Thanks so much for your honesty. I truly am glad you joined the conversation today. We can only eat that social media elephant one bite at a time. Be encouraged and be blessed! – Kia

  • Deborah Perkins

    Kia: Wow, what a great post! Visiting you from the RaRa Linkup today. Just wrote a very similar post this week you might “like!” (Not that I’m encouraging you to spend any more time on your smartphone, of course, haha!) But it’s interesting timing… blessings on your writing, would love to get to know you! Deborah
    PS: Here’s the link: http://www.hisinscriptions.com/blog/are-smartphones-replacing-god

    • Deborah, this post has been on my mind for some time.. I think in this day, social media is such an acceptable god that it is easily ignored by many. This is so awesome that both of us wrote about it at the same time. It must be on the heart of God. I will definitely love to get to know another fellow blogger and I will be visiting your blog soon. Thanks for joining the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  • Hi Kia, Great post! It really does creep up on you, doesn’t it? I was so reluctant to join Facebook and now I am just as you say, scrolling constantly! Yikes! It iss difficult to find balance though, as a blogger! So glad I stopped by from #SharingHisBeauty!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    • Ahh yes, I remember balance from my single days. 🙂 Hee hee, just kidding. It is so difficult to balance and I think I fail more often than I succeed. My saving grace is Jesus and the Holy Spirit – literally. I am learning to rely and really working on trusting Him as it relates specifically to social media. Thankfully God has given us some encouragement in His word, “Being confident of this that He who began a great work in you shall be faithful until the day of Christ Jesus to complete it.” Philippians 1:6 This has got to be one of my all time favorite scriptures because I need the reminder sooooo much. I’m excited about this truth. Thanks for your honesty Lori. I’m glad you joined the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  • bethwillismiller

    Great post! So true…keeping it all in perspective…the wide-angle God lens that helps us live each day in the light of eternity…many blessings to you ❤️

    • Thanks Beth, perspective is definitely needed as we dive into the social media world. You beautifully articulated the truth that we need to view everything including social media through “the light of eternity”. Thanks for joining the conversation today! Be blessed. – Kia

  • This is transparent and sincere, Kia.
    I consider this a timely reminder to focus on the things that are most important to God who loves us.
    Many Blessings to you

    • Thanks Ifeoma,
      With Social Media staking more and more of a claim on our hearts it is truly a timely post. With God guiding our perspective we can avoid the pitfall of becoming addicted to Social Media. Thanks for joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • I’ve been thinking about how many “likes” I throw out there lately – and always, somewhere in my mind, I’m aware of how desperate I can be for my own likes. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m not sure how to navigate it some days. Thank you for being so honest about your own battle with likes! (And thank you for linking up to WFMW!)

    • Mary it is good to know you got something from this post but honestly I wrote it more for me than anyone else. My own slippery slope compelled me to write. I am reminded daily how I need to get my affirmation from God. Thanks for sharing how this post impacted you. Be blessed! – Kia

  • Hi Kia! I just found you via the Missional Women linkup and I’m so excited to know you’re out here … saying the real stuff like this! My goodness, you nailed some transparent, hard truth about our desire for approval and the only true approval we need. It’s such a strange thing to try to balance, because there’s so much good that we can send out using the tools, but we have to guard our hearts against looking for it all to boomerang back to us.

    Love your space! Looking forward to knowing you better.

    • Yes Christi, we need to guard our hearts. I love the analogy of a boomerang because it makes perfect sense. Instead of looking for something in return for my post maybe I should think in terms of a Frisbee. (wink wink) I’m so glad you joined the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • It is so true how it all creeps up on us. May we remember each day that we are loved by God & will be loved by God no matter how many views a post may receive. May we write for an audience of One, the only One. Great reminder today!

    • Amen to that JViola. This prayer needs to be an anchor for me so that when I am tempted to get my identity and affirmation from anywhere else but God I am directed back to the truth of His word. Thanks for joining the conversation. Be Blessed! – Kia

  • I think about that a lot too-whose affirmation am I after? Some days it leans more toward people and less toward God. His is the opinion that really matters and I need to remember that!

    • Me too Sarah! I wrote this post because God put his finger on this issue in my life first. Even in this social media crazed society may we all remember that our worth comes from God. Thanks for joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • Michelle King Eigemann

    I think as bloggers we all suffer from this to some degree. We long to be liked, heard or read. Like you, I also need to keep myself in check because it is easy to get wrapped up and lost in all of this. Having our feet firmly planted in the word of God is what will allow us to move forward in this day and age. My goodness I am just getting the hang of blogging and now periscope is there to entice me!?!?

    • Michelle Amen!!!! I agree with everything except being enticed by periscope 🙂 I just can’t take it on right now. I love your gentle reminder to stay planted in the word of God. It is not the “like” that is the problem but the dependence on it. And as much as I hate to say it, anything I am dependent on other than God has the potential to become a little god in my life. Ouch! So like you I’m clinging to my word and hanging on tightly because I know myself. Thanks for your honesty and joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  • Kia, this is a wonderful post and a fabulous reminder.

    We aren’t here to please others, all that matters is that we please the Lord. I used to be a “like-a-holic” too. I still have my moments… especially if my work is shared on another site. I want that site to benefit and when an article gets slammed or picked apart, it hurts.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I loved the truth and honesty in this.
    xoxo

  • Rebekah Harris

    Love this! It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t have a cell phone or computer. I do miss it. Your right, now I have to be more self disciplined in how much time I spend on social media. I find myself liking everyone’s pictures and post because honestly, I want to be liked also. I love when I see people have commented on my posts and liked my pictures. But I have had to watch myself and ask God to help it not consume me because even though there is nothing bad in itself of being liked it can lead to me depending on it and I want to depend on Christ. I want him to please him above all else. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that he liked us before anyone else ever did!!

  • Crystal Hornback

    Right there with you, girl! Thank you for your transparency today. It’s a daily surrender, and I’m grateful for God’s beautiful grace! #livefreeThursday