Stepping Back from Social Media

At some point this past fall, I hit a breaking point with social media. I was finally able to admit to myself just how much I hated what Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter were doing to my mind and my soul. To be specific, here’s what really bothered me:

  • Even when I was with my family, friends, or church, I wasn’t as present as I should have been because I was always thinking about getting a picture of every potentially “instagramable moment”.
  • Once I found that moment and posted, insecurity, the desire for approval, and the need for a quick dopamine hit would kick in and I would find myself checking (sometimes a little obsessively) to see how many likes, comments, or views my post got.
  • Even when I wasn’t on social media, I found myself thinking about the lives of people I barely know or have never met. Ever been there? Analyzing and envying the fixtures in a celebrity Christian’s kitchen while the dishes pile up in your own sink?
  • More often than not, checking social media would make me feel some combination of envy, outrage, shame, hurt, or annoyance.

In short, social media was making me miserable…and it was distracting me from God, which is why I love the photo at the top of this post. Instead of enjoying a few quiet minutes with Jesus, I was mindlessly scrolling my way through life.

So, I just stopped posting, checking, or engaging for the most part. It wasn’t planned. I didn’t think it required one final post just so you all weren’t up at night wondering why I wasn’t posting. It wasn’t a spiritual fast. It was just stepping away from something I had come to hate.

And I loved it.

Honestly, I can’t say I missed it much at all. Nor can I say that I’m back. Nor can I say I’m permanently deleting my accounts. But I did learn some things over the last few months and I’m looking forward to processing those in my next post.

But here’s the question for today, are you using social media in a way that’s making you a better version of yourself, more full of life and love? Or are you just making yourself miserable?

Using Social Media Well

I’m always a little amused when people take to social media to condemn the pervasiveness of social media in our world.  I’ll admit I find it really hard not to chuckle when I read tweets about the uselessness of Twitter!

By the way, I know I just gave away the fact that I check Twitter.  For the record, I also check my Facebook NewsFeed at least once a day.  I follow a couple of blogs and I love Instagram.  Yes, I set boundaries on how often I check social media but I’m not a hater at all.  Truth be told, I like it.

If I use it well, it increases my love for Jesus, His church and the gospel.  It’s a source of inspiration, learning and encouragement.  I get new ideas, see things from a different perspective and am reminded of the diversity within the body of Christ.

But if I use it poorly, it only increases jealousy, bitterness and dissatisfaction with my life.  It becomes a source for comparison, gossip, despair and pride.  All of the fuel I need for greed, materialism or lust is only a few clicks away at any given moment.

What if Philippians 4:8 became a guide for our online lives?  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Follow the people on Twitter that deliver this kind of content.  Pay attention to the things in your NewsFeed that meet the Philippians 4:8 standard.

And get rid of everything else.  Every once in a while, I realize there are voices in my social media world that need to be muted.  Maybe what I love most about social media is just how easy it is to mute those voices – a simple unfollow on Twitter solves the problem.  A simple unfollow on Facebook does the same thing (and you get to avoid all of the drama associated with unfriending someone!).

What about you?  Are there voices in your online life that need to be muted?  Or maybe you need to add more Philippians 4:8 content into your life?  Either way, you won’t regret the decision to use your social media more profitably…plus, there are only so many photos of drunk friends on the verge of a mindless hookup you can take before it gets old!