We live in a like-driven age. You can’t go to brunch, a concert, or to the mall without seeing people capture themselves or their surroundings to share on social media. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing your life with strangers; I do it all the time! However, people are increasingly compromising their values and integrity, or throwing them away altogether, just for the sake of likes. A fellow blogger boo asked me to write about how I maintain my integrity as a blogger, especially when it seems that others are getting ahead by doing all sorts of untoward things, so here are my thoughts on blogging with integrity.
First, some WORD
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
– Proverbs 11:3
Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.
– Proverbs 28:6
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
– Philippians 2:14-16
The Bible is clear about the call to walk with integrity, and promises blessings for those who do not compromise their faith for the things of this world. Since we’re new creations in Christ, we’re to act different from the rest of the world. This is easy to do when it comes to obviously terrible things, like not robbing banks or committing mass murder or sexually assaulting people. The last one apparently ISN’T that easy for some reason, but I digress. When it comes to how we present ourselves through the tiny buttons on our phones, the lines between blameless and perverse can get murky real fast. For example:
Should I “borrow” other people’s photos to post on my IG feed?
Can I share inappropriate content (gossip, dirty memes and comedy skits, etc)… with my friends via DM?
Is it ok to post suggestive or revealing images if I know they’ll get more likes?
What about buying likes and followers?
But Wait, What does Integrity Even Mean?
Google defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. So basically, doing the right thing. The thing is, doing the right thing is kind of subjective. Everyone has their own moral code of conduct, and aside from criminal acts (and some of those are even debated), there isn’t a set standard of “right”.
Let’s dissect the above scenarios:
If you post someone else’s picture, without properly crediting them or acknowledging that it’s not your own, is that right? Isn’t that… plagiarism? Copying? Stealing? There’s a certain picture of me of my teeth whitening progression that is floating around charcoal whitening pages that irks me to no end. I used Colgate Optic White, not charcoal, so all those pages using my image to promote their product are lying! Same thing if you post a picture of flowers, a cup of coffee, or a designer bag (I’ve seen it all folks) that don’t belong to you when you claim that they do. Issa lie.
So you keep your feed PG and inspirational and holy, but you secretly check The Shade Room’s account multiple times a day and share the latest tea with your friends via DM. Is that an act of integrity? Revelling in someone’s misfortune online is like walking by a homeless person and laughing in their face. Kinda messed up right?
What about risque poses and suggestive captions? I’m not going to rain on anyone’s sexual liberation parade, but if you have a relationship with God, then an aspect of integrity is not leading others to sin. When I traveled to Kenya I packed a Calvin Klein underwear set, completely inspired by Solange. I even had my caption picked out for the picture: “Fall in your ways so you can crumble. Fall in your ways so you can sleep at night. Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise.” Btw if you don’t know those lyrics, just log off your computer or turn off your phone. You don’t deserve the internet!
It was going to be an epic post. It had #blackgirlmagic and #bodypositivity and #selflove written all over it, and I just KNEW it was going to be reposted and blow me up. I swear every other post is gonna make me famous… #stayhumble friends. After a bit of haggling, Jonathan (who was very unimpressed with the idea) took the pictures for me. I’m not as toned as Solange, but the pics didn’t come out half bad. But they just didn’t feel right to post. I’d purposely exposed myself with the intention of drawing attention to my body as a way to get more likes, views, followers, etc. Even though I wasn’t seeking male attention, posting the images simply wasn’t the right thing to do.
I’ve already written about buying likes, but didn’t realize the practice was so rampant! In case you’re confused as to why it’s a problem, the other post pretty much sums it up. Let’s just say I’m patiently waiting for Instagram to do a clean sweep of bot accounts again.
So… I Know I Shouldn’t Do Those Things. How Do I Blog With Integrity?
Accept that you may not grow like other people. Your content might not be edgy enough, messy enough, or fake enough to gain a following. Be comfortable with that fact. Remember that your reward is not on Earth (though the checks that can come in with bigger social media followings sure are nice), but in Heaven. Be real. Be honest. Don’t take shortcuts, even if your friends are. Conduct yourself digitally exactly the way you conduct yourself in real life. For me, that means posting on Instagram like my momma is watching, because although she doesn’t have an account, she regularly logs in to check my activity (especially when I don’t call her ?).
I KNOW it’s not easy. It frankly SUCKS to see people without integrity thriving and “winning”. The hardest thing for me about blogging with integrity is the first part of the section from Philippians: Do everything without grumbling or arguing. I get so angry when I see people taking shortcuts. Of course, I complain to my friends. I write down names of people who buy likes… as I type that out, I realize that is petty AH (as heck… can that be a thing?) so now I’m going to delete my phone note that had all their names stored. Woosah. Part of blogging with integrity is not getting caught up in what other people are doing, and not complaining about the walk you chose. Aka staying in your own lane, running your own race, and keeping your eyes on the prize that is your place in the kingdom of God.