Sarah Holmes is the latest addition to team Search Isaiah. She is from small-town Salmon, Idaho and joined the team to give millennials a new perspective and use social media to build God's kingdom.
There is a common scriptural roadblock among my millennial generation when reading the book of Isaiah. The language patterns are difficult, the historical and cultural allusions muddle our understanding, and yet the words in 3rd Nephi read clear: “For great are the words of Isaiah.”1
So how do we reconcile the two? In seeking to know the words of Isaiah, I often find my understanding delivered through the truths and lessons that help me to navigate my life in the modern world.
As I followed Victor Ludlow’s advice to choose a chapter in Isaiah by reading the section heading, I was brought to two truths in Isaiah 51, or as I have come to understand them, two tips to survive social media.
Find his comfort in the waste places
Over the past couple of months, I have become more aware of the negativity and darkness that often times clouds my news feeds. Social media became less of an escape from physical life—it became a discouraging witness of the state of the world. I couldn’t accurately describe it until I read Isaiah 51 verse 3 for the second time: “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places” Social media to me had become a “waste place,” and it was in desperate need of some comfort.
For me, this comfort surprisingly does not come from the absence of social media but rather a shift in focus—as is often a necessary remedy in life. For all the negativity, the disputes, the put downs that clutters my feed, there are lines and pictures of light, understanding, and truth to keep the balance—I just need to understand where to look. We are often advised to look for the good in people, and I was similarly humbled with the need to look for the positive in my own feed. While changing my perspective does not dissipate the negative media influences, it provides me with cleanser to wipe away the film of dirt from my media lens.
For some, waste places are found in other aspects of our lives and within the world. As we find ourselves trapped in these waste places, his comfort will be there to help us find “joy and gladness” as explained in the ending of the third verse.
Fear ye not, the reproach of men
A common criticism of social media asserts that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram promote an unrealistic view of a person’s life—an altered reality in filtered pictures. However, when we use social media wisely as a tool as well as entertainment, I have found these platforms award us a connection and influence we cannot deny.
We are individually given the ability to create an online identity in which we choose the content we promote and seek out. When choosing our social media content, we tailor our statuses and pictures to an audience: our friends and followers. In this process, our considerations are contingent upon the thoughts and ideas of those online. Often times, this can lead us to share or create damaging content. In chapter 51, verse 7, we are warned to “fear ye not the reproach of men.” In our social media, we must remain steadfast and fearless in promoting our beliefs and standards.
We are given a mask of sorts in which to operate online. Nevertheless, as Elder Bednar warns in his address, “Things as They Really Are”, “The Lord knows who we really are, what we really think, what we really do, and who we really are becoming.” We must ask ourselves who we want to approve our online content and personas.
We, in the generations of today, are surrounded by information. From the internet and education, to the sheer number of books at our disposal, we have the unique opportunity to participate and indulge in this consumption of knowledge. Technology and social media bless us with opportunities to strengthen and share our beliefs. It strengthens us as we attempt to overcome the expectations of the world and as we find his comfort and word among the waste places of social media.
1 Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 23: 1-5