It started when one of my lettering pieces was about to reach 100 likes after an hour. I excitedly shared the news with my husband as none of my other work had ever received more than sixty-some likes. As the hours rolled by, more and more likes came flooding through. It seemed like each time I got on Instagram, 30 more people liked the image. I was completely flabbergasted, excited, and one more thing… utterly obsessed. Friends, true confession here, I could not stop checking my phone. I’m embarrassed to admit that the refresh button was my closest friend that day.
Flashforward a few days later when I posted a new lettering piece (which I had spent QUITE a bit of time on, mind you). I waited… and waited… one like came through after a few minutes… then just a few more. I knew within thirty minutes that this piece was going to be like every other one I had ever posted, and the disappointment was deeper than I expected. Suddenly I was not good at lettering anymore, my dreams to sell my work someday were obliterated, and I wanted to delete the post.
As a creator of any kind, whether it’s art or writing or music, it is easy to find your worth and affirmation in the form of hearts, comments, and shares, especially in this digital age. They’re instant and tangible. But they are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can boost our self-esteem and encourage us to keep going, and on the other, they can make us prideful or diminish the value of our work.
There is a simple solution to avoiding these pitfalls: create for the Lord. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for human masters” (3:23). When you create for Him you can have confidence in your work, knowing that it is glorifying the greatest Creator of all. This is no easy task, I know, and it is something I have far from mastered. I still worry about likes and followers. Thankfully God is gracious, and continually forgives me when I put far too much weight in the “likes” of the world.
For the record, my Instagram posts are back to their average likes. I have since learned that there are actually Instagram algorithms, and apparently I hit the algorithm jackpot that day. (Did you know those existed? I had no idea!) It took awhile, and a lot of heart checks with God, but I’m currently content with whatever my posts bring in. In a way, I’m happier when my posts don’t go viral. I don’t feel the pressure to post the “perfect” picture for another round of likes, and I am able to set my phone down without constantly checking it.
I know firsthand that it takes a lot of courage to share your work. It took me months to post my first hand lettering piece. And in many ways, using a social media platform is wonderful because the reach is essentially limitless; however, speaking as one who has fallen deep into the social media “likes determine your worth” trap, do not forget that there is only one like that matters.