Yes, the quest for popularity affects the masses, and sometimes it isn’t for their good. Many political pundits say that the first really obvious affect of popularity was the Kennedy-Nixon debates. Kennedy was more telegenic and they believe that accounted for his winning the election, not his politics. But they are wrong about that being the first time popularity struck a blow in politics.
After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel, 2 Sam 15:1-6.
Absalom made everyone feel “liked” and that “stole their hearts.” But Absalom wasn’t even the first. In Judges 9:3 the people of Israel had “hearts inclined to follow Abimelech.” Both of these men were wrong for God’s people and were eventually killed, but that didn’t stop the people from falling prey to what was “popular.”
Do you think that hasn’t happened to you? Why do you wear what you wear? Why do you watch the television shows you watch? Why do you go to the restaurants you do? Whatever is popular at the time steals our hearts because we think that by doing the popular we will become popular. The problem comes when that affects us spiritually. If I am wearing clothing I shouldn’t because everyone else is, I need a stronger character. If I am watching inappropriate entertainment, I need to remember who I claim to follow.
The people of Israel were taken in by what was popular over and over again. Ezekiel tells us “their hearts went after their idols” and “covetousness,” 20:16; 33:31. Jeremiah talks about them “going after the imagination of their hearts,” 9:14; 13:10. And why did they do those things? Not only because they were the popular things to do, but because falling in with the crowd made them popular too. Simply put, you can’t be different and popular in the world at the same time.
What is your heart going after? If it’s popularity and wanting to be “liked,” then you are prey to popular evils just like 99% of the rest of the world. God calls us to be different. A Christian doesn’t need to be “liked” on Facebook or anywhere else as long as God “likes” him.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ, Gal 1:10.