Our culture has helped shape us to think that our image is everything. We’ll go the extra mile to make our lives look better online even if our lives are falling apart behind the screen. This week’s guest is pastor and social media influencer, Jon Wiebe joins indoubt to talk about some of the dark sides of social media and how to find a balance in it. Having experienced some of the negative effects of social media, he shares with Ryan how he was able to navigate his own mental health. Jon brings a great perspective on what it means for us to use social media and how we can learn to make healthier choices when it comes to our own online presence.
Who's our guest?
Jon Wiebe works as the Director of Engagement at Fraser Point Church in Fort Langley. He is also a social media influencer, running the men’s style Instagram account @theroadtodapper. He currently lives in Abbotsford with his wife and two kids.
Welcome to the indoubt Podcast where we explore the challenging topics that young adults often face. Each week we talk with guests who help answer questions of faith, life, and culture, connecting them to our daily experiences and God’s word. For more info on indoubt, visit indoubt.ca or indoubt.com.
Hey everyone, so happy to join you for this episode of indoubt. My name is Kourtney and I’m the indoubt Coordinator, so everything behind the scenes is where I’m at. On today’s episode, Jon Wiebe joins our host Ryan and they discuss the negative effects of too much social media. Our culture has helped us to think that our image is everything, so much so that we’ll go the extra mile to make our lives look better online. Being an influencer, Jon talks about some of the dark sides of social media and how he’s experienced even in his own life some of the mental health effects of being so tuned in and plugged in to social media. Jon brings a great perspective on what it means for us to use social media and how we can learn to make healthier choices when it comes to our own social media presence. Take a listen and let us know what you think.
Back with us in the studio is Jon Wiebe who is a social media influencer, Starbucks barista. He’s a pastor, he’s a wedding officiant. He’s a father and husband. Jon, it’s great to have you back.
Yeah, it’s great to be back. Thanks for having me back, Ryan.
It’s great to have you back. We had a conversation last about some of your story and social media. Some of the things that we were even touching on with that social media piece is recognizing the good and the beneficial of social media and community influence. There’s lots of positive there. We touched on a little bit about some of the potential traps and the potential downfalls.
Social media has a lot of positive and I touched a little bit on that as you said in the last episode. Really building community and even outside of the influencer world, if you think about the church world. I run social media for our church and it’s an opportunity to build community and to engage with people who are attenders and a way for people to check us out. Social media as a whole has a dark side. I think with a lot of things in life, there is positive, but to an extreme, it’s a dark side. Some of what I’ve dealt with, I mean I have a history with mental health in my own journey, which I’ll share about. For me, I can easily let social media amplify and really aggravate my mental health, my depression and my anxiety as we talk about Keeping Up with the Joneses and being discontent with where I’m at.
Looking in the mirror and looking at others online being like, I’m not as attractive as them. I don’t live a life as exciting as them. My house doesn’t look as good as them. It spun me. It has the potential of spinning me into a downward spiral. I think you have to take a step back and I’ve had to multiple times throughout my journey. Not only my life. Not only Instagram journey, but my whole life on social media. Take multiple steps back and to look at again, what is this process? What is this platform? What is the purpose of me being on social media? It comes back to that social media isn’t bad. It’s how you manage it or how you allow it to manage you. Actually, this last year I went dark for seven days on my platform. I had actually posted about it saying, “Hey, I just need to reset.” It was getting to the point and I’ve had to learn my triggers. I’ve had to learn when I start getting anxious and start getting stressed out or when I start, even as I said, when I start becoming discontent with my life and wanting stuff. I’m like, okay, I think I’m getting to an unhealthy level.
I need to scale back. It’s not bad. It’s not necessarily a bad addiction when you talk about if you’re like alcoholic or addicted to drugs or whatever. There are some pretty negative and harmful addictions. I don’t think social media is something that you need to necessarily quit. I mean, maybe it gets to the point where this is just so unhealthy you can’t get on it anymore. For me it’s been taking like actual physical times off where I’ve deleted Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of my social media off my phone and close the tabs on my computer and went dark for seven days, this last, the most recent. As an influencer who posts every day and who comments and has a community that I’ve built around the brand of what I’ve put forward, it’s hard and it’s a big risk. It’s a thing or it’s like a conscious decision to say, I need to step back for my own health. One of the things that I’ve dealt with and I think social media can amplify is mental health issues and feelings of depression and isolation and anxiety. We talk about FOMO, fear of missing out.
That all spirals into this, can spiral me personally into a really dark place of feeling depressed and feeling inadequate. One of the things that have really helped me is I see a counselor. Started on a weekly basis and now I’ve graduated to once a month, but he’s really helped me stick to a positive perspective on my life, on who God has created me to be. Then as I go on the platform, obviously there’s moments where it’s like I see somebody else getting a campaign or getting invited to something or having an experience, and it’s like, how come? Like how come I wasn’t good enough to get that? Maybe I didn’t have enough followers or enough likes or didn’t look a certain way. It’s easy for me to be heading down that rabbit hole sometimes, but that’s when I need to take a step back and be like, you know what? Everyone in the world is going to be okay if I don’t post today. The world is going to be okay if I don’t respond to that comment. Instagram is still going to be around if I take a week off.
Most recently at the beginning of the year in January one I had announced to my followers that I was going to go dark for a week. Posted a black image and said that I was going to be being offline and trying to value my community as well, saying, “Hey, if you don’t hear from me, this is why.” It was interesting in the first couple of days how often I grabbed my phone to try to just like, you know, you’re standing in line at the bank, for those that still bank in person. At the line at the grocery store or you just have a spare moment and the first thing you do or the first thing I did was always grab my phone and go on Instagram. It’s interesting to get some data. If you have the newest operating software with Apple, you can turn on Screen Time and you can see, even I just noticed that you can actually see how many times you grabbed your phone in a day. You can see what apps you open when you first open your phone, which apps you open first. It’s interesting to see like yeah, I grab my phone a lot and my first thing that I grab, like overwhelming majority, is Instagram. I grab my phone, I open Instagram. It’s like, yeah, taking a week off I could identify some negative patterns for me and some negative thought patterns. I mean, I could use that. I tried to use that time that I was spending on social media, I don’t want to say wasting on social media, but spending on social media, which for me equates to a couple of hours a day depending on the day to doing more beneficial things. Whether it’s going for a walk, whether it’s reading scripture, whether it’s spending time in prayer, whether it’s spending time with my wife and family, not being distracted in those moments and allowed me to detach a little bit from the rat race that we see on Instagram.
Yeah. I think one of those things that it makes me think of, and you kind of prefaced and alluded to it, is that it’s not that social media is the source of anxiety or the source of mental health or depression or whatever for whoever. If it flares up because they’re on social media, that’s something different, right? It’s recognizing. I think this is part of the conversation of mental health and mental illness and all that stuff, is that we fundamentally believe as followers of Jesus that every human being is flawed. It’s almost like there’s this stigma around mental health as like, I have mental health and you don’t. Like, I’m broken and you’re not. That, being able to take this idea of human behavior and human nature and break it apart and put it into two categories of one has mental health, one doesn’t, is I believe actually quite dangerous, right? There’s almost like there’s two-tier mentality. It was like, the mentally ill or those who struggle with mental health and those who don’t.
It’s a matter of there’s an element of we’re all broken and just certain things expose it differently for different people, different environments pressure us and what comes out when you’re squeezed. Right? That’s the question. Even as you share about some of your story and some of your own anxiety or depression, I think it’s really cool to hear you say and share about how you’ve been able to identify and recognize some of the triggers. It’s almost like a cool thing where God might use that opportunity or God might use that anxiety for his good. The idea that God uses unfortunate or frustrating circumstances for his good and sometimes, and it’s like, how does he even do that? I don’t even know. I’m curious, when we talk about social media, we talked about the influences. We talk about mental health. What are some of the practices that you do in your life that keep you healthy on a healthy rhythm?
To just go back in my life when I was in high school, dealt with, I mean as you say like a lot of us or most of us deal with some level of mental health. Whether it’s depression, anxiety and how the environment and different situations will play into that and amplify that. I mean, we’ve all been disappointed when we were left out and to some mild degree that affects our mind and affects the way we think about our ourselves. We’ve all compared ourselves to people and so in some level we’ve all kind of dealt with this. More recently in 2017, I was formally diagnosed, I started to see a counselor and was diagnosed with high functioning depression and anxiety. For me, depression always looked like the person sitting in a dark room not being able to get out of bed.
I think that’s the stereotype that we wrestle with, that’s what it means to be depressed. For some people that is their journey like it’s too much to face the world. I have friends who it’s too much some days for them to go out in public and just the anxiety and that just cripples them. There’s other people who are high functioning. Like I was at Starbucks, I was going to work, I was preaching at church. For a lot of people, you wouldn’t have known unless you talk to my wife and my family who saw that other side. I went through a really stressful time where in a period of six months we had eight people in my life die or pass away. Oldest person being 67 and so youngest person being 13, so quite a range of emotions and feelings of loss.
Out of that kind of spun me into a dark place mentally that I didn’t feel like I’d end up. I think it exposed a lot of things for me. At the prompting of some friends and some other people in my life, went to go see a counselor, which is a lot of stigma when you talk about mental health and going to see a counselor and admitting that, “Hey, I can’t just go for coffee with a friend or I can’t just like pray this, pray myself better that I actually need to go see a professional and pay someone to help me fix my way of thinking.” Within the first session, I knew that this was the right place for me. Being able to talk through this with someone and process, and that’s been a lot as I get triggered or as I feel triggered, I have someone that I go to.
I mean now I’ve graduated from once a week, to every other week, to now once a month. I got someone once a month that I can talk to, “Hey, this is how I’m feeling. This is what the last month has been for me. Here’s how I’ve been. It’s more positive. This is where I’m still struggling.” It’s been interesting as a marker as where I’ve been and I’m in a much more positive place now than I was a year and a half ago. One of the things that I really wanted to do was be open with my journey. I believe that God gave me this platform, this opportunity to influence people and especially young adult males as that’s the primary bulk of my followers with saying, “Hey look, I struggle with mental health and I’m on antidepressants and I see a counselor once a month and this is what I need to stay sane. Some days I need to take a break and sometimes I’m going to go dark for a week because I need to reset.”
Trying to influence for positive by showing the non-highlight reel part of my life. Where it would be easy for me to just be my outgoing, extroverted self on my Instagram stories and post the perfect flat-lay and perfect picture for my photographer and show this is my life and nothing is ever awful. To say, you know what? I want to use this platform. I want to use the best parts of social media, this community that I’ve built, that God has built around me to say, “Hey, I want to use this to share my story.” That in some way can I help? I know for us, for guys, at least for me, I don’t want to stereotype everyone in our gender, but it’s hard to open up sometimes and it’s hard to be vulnerable. Traditional masculinity says that we need to be tough and you don’t cry, and we need to be and act a certain way. If I can show, if this is what an authentic life looks like, then I want to try to do that.
This stigma around mental health and masculinity I think, well, I like how you say that traditional masculinity because I think there’s actually something that’s really profound in how we view masculinity. To walk through as a man with anxiety and depression, it’s actually okay. That, kind of going back to the comment I made earlier where it’s like, well, who are we to think that we’re not broken? If you actually don’t believe that you’re broken, there’s no way that you can invite God to fix that. If you think that your life is good and you’re healed and whole fully, then why would you ever want to grow? Why would you ever want to develop? As followers of Jesus, we believe that we’ve been given a righteousness not of our own so when we invite Christ into our lives, we’re like, we’re healed. We’re actually justified. We’re made good with God. That doesn’t mean that we are actually good. We’re still a work in progress.
We’re still doing this, the theological word is sanctification. We’re still being made new day by day. We’re still experiencing God’s mercies day by day. To be able to recognize like, “Hey, I’m not where I want to be in my life or my mental health or in my character or just how I am with God and my relationship with God. Owning that and acknowledging that is an invitation for us to grow in that. I think that is the healthy starting point for not just men, but women also, all people to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect and I know there’s room for me to grow.” It’s such a cool picture even as you say like you know, this is an opportunity I can share with other people because true strength is not being ignorant of problems and just overcoming nothing. True strength is looking at evil in the face and saying, “Yeah, God helped me get through this.” Looking at challenge or an obstacle and say, “Okay, I don’t know how I’m going to solve this, but God, can you help me with this? God, can you walk with me through this?”
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is in the midst of fear standing up and saying, “Okay, God, help me through this because I don’t have the courage in me but I know I need to go and face this thing that’s in my closet or this thing that’s haunting me or this thing that’s holding me captive.” I think that’s the beauty of what our God does, is he walks with us. Even as I’m hearing you share your story, I think it’s a beautiful picture of you saying, “Yeah, I need to learn how to manage this and work with this, understand this, but I know that God’s with me and I know that he’s walking with me.” That kind of strength, the strength that comes from him means that we can face the stigma or the perspective of others and say, “No, this is a good thing for me.”
I appreciate you sharing that. A verse that’s really been for me I saved it on my phone in a note that I can keep going back to over and over and over again. It’s Isaiah 41:10 where it says, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It’s that idea of fear not, like I’m with you. I think that’s the beauty of the gospel. For me to share my journey and to share my own struggles, that’s me sharing the gospel. That’s me saying, hey, you know what? I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. I struggle. I’m flawed because we all are. Actually, God meets me where I’m at and that’s the beauty of the gospel, that God says, “Hey, fear not for I am with you. Actually, I’m so with you that I sent my Son to actually walk in your footsteps, that might give you hope and a new life.” Even a hope for a time when we don’t have to worry about mental health issues. Like we don’t have to worry about any illness. That God gave us that pathway. For me, being a pastor, being an influencer, or working in the marketplace at Starbucks, and being an officiant, that’s for me, this is an opportunity for me to share the gospel. Not just the capital G in Gospel of what Jesus did, but the personal gospel for me of what God is doing currently in my life and being able to share, “Hey, this is the way that I’m struggling. This is where God is meeting me.” That’s the beauty of who God is. That’s the beauty of Jesus and what he came to meet us in our crap.
Yeah, it’s true.
I think so often that church is so scared to talk about our flaws and our struggles and especially like you talk about the stigma about mental health. As I look around, like social media, the world is starting to talk more and more like you have like Bell Let’s Talk Day. That was just in January. For me it was like, okay, well, if industry, if businesses can talk about this, how come we inside the church can’t? How come I can’t gain the courage to talk about it? That’s really given me and be like, okay, as church, as Christians, we should be on the forefront of sharing our crap. We should be the first ones to say, you know what? I’m not perfect. Here’s the ways that I’m flawed and here’s the way that Jesus is going to meet me. I mean, we need to be the ones that say I’m not strong, but God is strong in my weakness. That’s actually the way that God is going to get more glory is through shining through our weakness.
I think this is a message that the church today needs to hear honestly. In the last probably like number of weeks, my conviction has refined to a point where I’m like, you know, so often in church culture it’s like, oh, just say the good things. Just say the good things that God loves you, and he does. That’s the fundamental truth but I think sometimes we can neglect to share some of the whole picture, which is we’re broken. We’re in need of saving. When I can stand up and say, “Man, I am in need of a Saviour. I’m in need of a God.” That alone elevates God in my life. That’s a testimony of who he is in my life and that makes my life not about me but it makes it about him. Whatever it is, whether it’s character challenges or addictions or mental health or X, Y, and Z, whatever it is that’s going on in our lives, if we can submit it to God and say, “God, I know I’m not perfect, would you help me in the midst of my weakness and in my brokenness?” I genuinely believe he would be happy to use that. He’s happy to say, “Yeah, you’re broken and you’re ready for me to let me lead you. Let me show you. Let me make my name great through your life.” I think that’s part of God’s heart. When we as people say, “Yeah, God is a nice addition to my life.” He’s like, “Excuse me, what are you talking about?” You sound like the nation of Israel as they rebelled. “No, come back to me. Let me be your source. Let me be everything.” That’s a cool testimony to nonbelievers. That is a different perspective than what the world has about what it means to be human.
Yeah, totally backwards. We’re broken and we’re in need of saving and God is the one who can do it. God’s the only one that can forgive the offense that I’ve offended him with. I’m encouraged because Jon, I get the sense from you in person, but also on social media, that that’s the hope that you wanted to lead people to, is leading them to Christ through your story in social media. How you’re a wedding officiant, how you are in Starbucks. I think that is a cool, cool thing. Thanks for being a light. Thanks for being a city on a hill. Thanks for sharing your life and sharing your story with us.
Thank you, Ryan. It’s been great to have these conversations with you. Just wanted to say, if any of your listeners are dealing with issues of depression, anxiety and mental health, I just really want to encourage. I would be remiss not to say to go ask for help and whether that’s a pastor, a close friend, a spouse, significant other. You can even reach out to me on social media if you want to chat. Go talk to someone, go see a counselor, get help. I know some people have stigma around it, but get help. There is help out there. I’m a testament to saying that there is light on the other side of the tunnel.
That’s cool. Great. Jon, thanks so much, man.
Yeah, thanks, Ryan.
It’s been great.
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of indoubt where Jon Wiebe talked about his personal story of mental illness and the attachments we all have to social media. Everything is good in moderation and Jon took the time in his own life to understand the barriers he needs between social media and his everyday life. Social media can be a contributing factor to mental illness. I mean, we’ve just had the test on Instagram in Canada where how many likes you have is now hidden. Learning to take the right steps to helping yourself is so important and we recognize that here at indoubt. You can follow Jon on Instagram @theroadtodapper and find out more about his day to day and style inspirations.
For the next few weeks we’re going to be making mental illness and mental health a focus. In the past indoubt has had Brad Hambrick who joined us to talk about what mental illness is and here’s what he said:
“I think one of the difficulties is that the term is used to describe so many different things. Even when we narrow it down to a particular life struggle, say depression or anxiety, even there the Word can have such a breadth of meaning, that these are the kinds of words that I often say, they’re words like dog. The word dog can mean everything from poodle, which is a cat that barks, to a Great Dane, which is a horse that people invite to live in their house. They’re all dog, but they’re very, very different, the temperament, the personality, degree of aggressiveness. All of those things are going to be there. When we start to ask the question, what is mental illness, I think it might be more accurate to say, what kinds of struggles fall under the category of mental illness.”
Just like Brad Hambrick, we recognize that mental illness can take all forms and we want to give time to really dive into this discussion more. To do that, we’re bringing in Julie Kraft, who’s actually a mental health advocate and she has been clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Julie shares her personal struggle through mental illness and really touches on the reality of mental health. This is just a clip from one of our upcoming episodes with Julie:
“I’ll admit, I didn’t turn to God. I turned to the world and I relied on my own strength. Quite honestly, even in the past few weeks I feel like God is just showing up and my goodness, the Bible is jam-packed with promises and practical advice and verses to carry us through and God promises: ‘I’m either going to calm you through the storm or I’m going to calm the storm, but I’m there no matter what.'”
That was our clip with Julie and I’m really looking forward to these episodes and what we can learn from her. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of indoubt with Ryan and Jon. If you have anything that you’d like to add or if you wanted to reach out to us, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow us on social media. Check back in next week for the next episode where we talk with Julie Kraft.
Thanks so much for listening. If you want to hear more, subscribe on iTunes and Spotify or visit us online at indoubt.ca or indoubt.com. We’re also on social media, so make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.