Over the past couple weeks, I’ve taken an intentional break from social media. The reason I pulled away was two-fold:
- I knew I loved it too much.
- I recently read a book that suggested the two-week period.
Before I completed this absence, I didn’t think I was truly addicted to social media. My reasoning was as follows: Social media isn’t something I have to do; I just enjoy doing it. I could stop visiting the sites anytime I wanted. But after setting boundaries for myself and experiencing some strong side effects from abiding by those boundaries, I realized what a strong attachment I had to certain social media platforms. (I wrote in detail about that attachment in my daily journal.)
Today, I’ll share 3 things I learned during my social media absence:
It’s not merely about the time spent.
Of course, it is about the time spent on social media. But it’s not only (and maybe not even primarily) about the time spent. A large amount of time spent may reveal a problem, but a small amount doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of problems. I might spend little time actually doing something, but it may grip me in a pretty strong way.
I cannot judge my attachment to something simply by the amount of time I spend on it.
It’s also about the mental space used.
Something happened during my absence that I didn’t expect:
When I stopped spending so much time on social media, I had more mental space to do the things I needed to do. For example, the first day of my 2-week experiment, I took time to write because I wanted to document the things God was doing in my heart. So I talked with my husband and a couple friends about the lessons, then wrote about some of them. Sometimes I have these God-lessons boiling up in my heart, but then I distract myself from them by looking at pictures and words that everyone else is sharing. Then when I sit down to write about the lessons, my mind is already going a thousand directions from all the updates I’ve just seen. Taking a break from social media has freed up a lot of mental space for me. It’s something I don’t want to forget, nor do I want to lose.
I cannot distract myself and expect my mind to be free of distractions. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)
But, it’s mostly about my heart.
You knew it was coming this direction, didn’t you? My main reason for completing this experiment was to help my heart. Because what’s the advantage to freed-up time and mental space if my heart is still in bondage? I’m asking the Lord to search my heart, try my thoughts, and reveal the deceit inside my soul. I’m asking myself questions like:
- What am I seeking?
- Why do I care how many people “like” or comment on this picture/status?
- What’s under the surface?
- Why do I want to stay connected?
- What do I really want?
- Why am I looking for distractions? (this is what I asked after my excessive email checking)
- Is there any redeemable good in this?
These questions are ones which I took to the Lord in prayer. See, my social media use is not an end in itself. As a child of God, everything relates to my relationship with Christ and others. The things I do are either pushing myself and others towards or away from Christ. This includes Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. What I do in these areas not only reveals my heart, but also influences the hearts of others. Yikes.
I cannot separate what I do from who I am. Everything I do springs directly from my heart.
So um…why even use social media?
A valid question and one I’ve asked myself. But first let me say: This is not a post for or against social media. This is a post for thinking honestly, praying, and seeking to please God in every area of life – even that crazy thing we call social media. I think the above question is one we should ask ourselves. It’s a topic that deserves prayer and a desire to follow the Lord in however He leads.
Now that I’ve stated those foundations, here are a couple thoughts I had when I asked myself the above question:
- It is easier to connect with otherwise strangers on Facebook than it is to ask for their numbers/emails/home addresses. Hello, 21st century. As a result, one can have a regular influence on people with whom they may not regularly connect.
- I have received spiritual encouragement and admonition via social media. I’ve watched many of my friends go through difficult trials and have been challenged to see them share their ups, downs, and the truths about God that are supporting them.
I have also been on the receiving end of social media’s negative impacts. But I ask myself this: If something is full of negative things, does that mean I should respond by pulling out and not producing any positive things? (And by “positive things,” I’m referring to things in the spiritual realm as opposed to pictures of cats and/or other furry creatures. Ahem.)
The answer? Maybe you should. Maybe you shouldn’t. Pray about it, seek to please the Lord, and I’m confident He’ll guide you.
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