When I first graduated college and started a grown-up job, I joked to one of my coworkers that my goal that year was to become verified on Twitter. Through no effort of my own, I received the coveted blue checkmark next to my name, but (spoiler alert) it has served little purpose in my life.
Now enter Larz, a 20-year-old kid who gained some internet notoriety when one of his videos went viral. He was on Dr. Phil’s show earlier this week, and revealed to the host he no longer talks to his family — including his parents — because they’re “irrelevant” since they don’t have social media followings of their own.
“Can anyone tell me what I would talk to my mom about?” Larz said when Dr. Phil asked him why he wouldn’t communicate with his own mother. “She’s not going to be making me relevant.”
Of course, Larz is an extreme example, but the root problem of the thought process that led him to his current predicament is running rampant throughout our society.
Our twisted understanding of success, which flies in the face of how God defines it, is the driving force behind Larz’s warped conception of what it means to be accomplished and valuable, but he isn’t alone.
A few years ago, more than a quarter of millennials said they would quit their jobs to become famous, and one in 12 said they would be willing to completely detach themselves from their family if it meant they could become famous. A lot of that is the result of social media making fame seem pretty accessible to everyone.
That says nothing of this social-media generation’s worst-kept secret: a lot of it’s fake. Millennials and all the kids younger than me are obsessed with “authenticity.” In fairness, we’re also constantly refreshing our Instagram feeds for the latest sales pitches cloaked as BFF tips from our favorite “influencers.”
HBO host Bill Maher put it this way last year:
[We now] live two lives. There’s the real us, the person in a kitchen or a bar, who speaks like a human with trusted friends, and then there’s what I call our avatar. Our avatar looks and sounds like us, but it’s not really us. It’s the persona we adopt in any sort of public sphere, which now includes your followers on Twitter and Instagram, and thousands of friends on Facebook. And bad things go viral, so everyone fears any misstep that could cause America’s pearl-clutchers to point and scream at you like the invasion of the body snatchers. Think of all the people who have lost job offers due to [an unflattering] picture of them.
Americans today crave any kind of authenticity because our avatars are just so full of [crap]. … Everyone’s social media persona is now like a candidate running for office — holding babies, doing photo ops. … Facebook should be called Two-Faced Book.
The truth is, we’re looking to find our worth in all the wrong places. Larz shouldn’t be turning to Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram for his value; he should be running toward the very people he’s turning his back on — his family, his parents — to understand his worth. The Bible tells us to honor our parents and to love our friends, foes, and family because love “covers a multitude of sins.”
Scripture tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” — period, not as a result of our Instagram following or how many viral videos we have on YouTube or how often we’re mentioned on Twitter. Our value is directly connected to the fact we are made in God’s image and have a right standing with Him when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation.
Time and again, the Bible reminds us of God’s promise to take care of us. Luke wrote, “What is the price of five sparrows — two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Then Matthew wrote, “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
If social media and fame aren’t filling the void you’re desperate to close — as Larz will eventually find out — start seeking God: Scripture promises to never leave us empty handed and Jesus vows to answer those who call out to Him.
That blue checkmark on my Twitter account hasn’t done anything to enhance my life. But my family, my friends, and my faith constantly remind me of my worth and my value. Be wise with your time, talent, and treasure, and it will bear fruit in your life.