Two weeks ago, I deleted social media apps from my phone and banned myself from accessing them in any way over a period of 14 days. Because my purpose for this break was to develop my mind and heart, I decided to keep a daily journal specifically chronicling my struggles related to social media abstinence.
The journal below doesn’t offer a method or answers; it simply chronicles the struggles of my mind and heart over the past two weeks of breaking from social media. Most likely, some will be shocked that I became so addicted to social media. It’s okay; I was shocked too.
The real reason I’m sharing this journal? I think you might see reflections of your own struggles. And sometimes it’s helpful to read about someone else’s problems to help you see yours in a better light.
Some of the journal is so pathetic, it’s humorous. So feel free to laugh, because I laughed while re-reading it.
This is one journal that won’t get published and set beside Jim Elliot’s diary. Ahem.
THE NIGHT BEFORE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11
Since I’m normally active throughout the day on Instagram and Facebook, I decided to post an update about my scheduled two-week absence. That way, if anyone tried to reach me via direct messages, they would have some clue about why I wasn’t responding. My Instagram update read as follows:
“I’ve scheduled a 2 week break from my social media channels beginning Sunday, 11/12.
I recently read a helpful book on smartphones and this quote is one of my favorites:
“The beauty of Christ calms us and roots our deepest longings in eternal hopes that are far beyond what our smartphones can ever hope to deliver.”
I want to spend extra time gazing on Christ’s beauty & seeking to reflect His character in my heart and life. ❤️
// quote via 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You //”
Before I deleted my Instagram app, I gave a good fake cry to my husband. I mean, there weren’t actual tears; I just pretended to cry about it. But I was legit sad about it. This is going to be a long two weeks.
DAY ONE: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12
Upon waking, I reached for my phone to silence my alarm. My habit is to not check social media before reading my Bible. BUT knowing that I couldn’t check it made me want to do it even more than usual. Rebel at heart.
I read my Bible and was incredibly challenged by a passage in Hebrews 3. My immediate thought was to share it on Instagram. But wait, I can’t do that for another two weeks. Argh.
In church this morning, we sang these words:
“I now am reconciled! His pardoning voice I hear,
He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba, Father cry!”
Rich text! Such a deep blessing, I thought I would share it on facebook. But nope, can’t do that for two weeks. What am I supposed to do? Talk to an actual person about these blessings?? #AWKWARD Also, why take sermon notes if you can’t share them online? These and other life questions…
In the afternoon, I shared the blessings/convictions from my morning with my husband. I also spent an hour writing because I couldn’t keep all these thoughts in my head and there was no social media on which to share them.
DAY TWO: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Today, I published a post on holiness & authenticity on my blog. Many of you have told me that the way you find about new posts is via Facebook, so I normally share it via social media and then monitor comments, likes, and shares. I was able to share the post from my site (without actually going on Facebook), but couldn’t see any responses. THIS WAS SO HARD FOR ME. And incredibly good at the same time. It was hard because I always judge my writing by people’s responses. So if there isn’t much of a reaction, my head says things like, “Terrible job, Christa. You’re a horrid writer and are doing everything wrong.” I’m always very encouraging to myself.
I met with a friend today and shared what I had been reading from my devotions. I couldn’t share it on social media and wanted to share it with someone else. Good talk.
DAY THREE: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14
I’ve noticed something disturbing about myself. Ever since I stopped using social media, I’ve been obsessively checking my email. Like, there’s no need to check my email 20 times in one day. Perhaps I’m not just addicted to social media, but addicted to distractions?
Yeah. I told you it was disturbing.
DAY FOUR: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15
I read a few verses this morning that just blessed my socks off. Normally, I’d share it on social media. Instead, I told Jonathan and texted a few friends some thoughts.
I’m trying to resist the urge to check email so often. I’m still in the OCD camp about it.
I received two “in real life” comments about my recently published blog post. Okay, so at least I know it actually published and was a blessing to two people. (Yes, those two people were my husband and Mom.) I wonder how it would affect my writing if I never saw people’s responses?
DAY FIVE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Today was a very busy day composed of homeschooling, extra church events, hosting company, and writing deadlines. I am incredibly grateful that I couldn’t check social media (per my regulations) because I know I would have wasted time on it otherwise.
DAY SIX: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17
This is the first day I had this thought:
I don’t think I’ve missed anything of true importance in the last 6 days of being off social media. Now, clearly that’s easy for me to say because at this point I haven’t even seen anything I’ve missed. So maybe I don’t know what I’m missing? But great day – one would have thought I was solving all the world’s problems from the time and energy I used to (as in, 7 days ago) invest in social media.
DAY SEVEN: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18
I’ve discovered I often reach for my phone even if there’s not anything I need to do on it. I don’t want to get in the habit of laying off social media, but filling the void with something else pointless or dangerous. I want to use my time wisely and for God’s glory. I’ve started praying that God would reveal to me what my heart is truly craving amidst all my distraction-seeking and help me to pursue Christ instead.
DAY EIGHT: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19
For the past few days, I’ve been mulling over what guidelines I should put into place after these two weeks have ended. Should I use social media at all? If so, how much? This afternoon, I sat down and wrote out a few guidelines:
- One time on social media per day
- 15 minutes max overall (facebook, Instagram, twitter)
- No social media use on Sunday (maybe extend to the entire weekend?)
My plan is to take two weeks to follow these guidelines and then re-evaluate my heart and habits.
I texted a couple pictures of my kids to some friends who normally look on facebook for regular updates. I like the one-on-one interaction this gives me with others, versus simply posting it on social media and all the comments being public.
DAY NINE: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Today, I published a post entitled Bible Study: Discipline or Delight? I’m surprised and unashamedly pleased with the easier time I’m having at not knowing anyone’s reaction. Maybe people hate it and are calling me terrible things on social media while simultaneously putting hexes on my name. Or maybe they love it and are going to nominate me as the honorary president of their knitting club.
Either extreme and I haven’t a clue. In some cases, ignorance is indeed bliss.
DAY TEN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21
I mostly forgot about my new post today – you know, the post I published yesterday. I see this as a great improvement from last week when I was obsessively and inordinately checking statistics to try to gauge the response. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that. No, I don’t want to become obsessive again after this challenge is complete. I think the guidelines I created a couple days ago will help me as I consider my future social media use. I especially think having one day off a week will help as I’ll have a scheduled time to sit back and not consume or produce on social media channels. A brain break, I’ll call it.
DAY ELEVEN: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Today I realized that Facebook must send out emails to people who suddenly stop visiting their site. Apparently, I set mine to be automatically deleted, so I only discovered all the emails today when I was searching for a guacamole coupon in my trash pile. Lo and behold, I never found the guac coupon, but I did find a host of Facebook emails about people mentioning me in updates or tagging me in photos. Believe me, it was difficult to resist clicking on the blue “Read More” button. Resist I did. But 99% of me says the only reason I resisted it is because I told you I would. Ah, the old honor badge bites again.
DAY TWELVE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Happy Thanksgiving! Today, my husband showed me a picture from his Facebook feed. Does that count as cheating? I’m saying no, it doesn’t count as cheating because I didn’t spend time scrolling. Before he showed his phone to me, he said, “I know you’re not on Facebook, but I thought you’d want to see this.” After I nervously asked if it was good news and he confirmed it was, he turned his phone around to reveal a pregnancy announcement from some of our friends. Since I couldn’t comment, I texted my congrats instead. If I had been on facebook, I’m pretty sure I would have commented on the picture and not thought to text. I’m incredibly glad I did text, though, because it gave me the opportunity to hear more details from my friend regarding her special news.
DAY THIRTEEN: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24
My sister and her family came over today for brunch. Normally, I might have taken and posted a picture of the gathering. As it was, Jonathan took a picture instead. Since I’m not on facebook currently, I have no idea if he posted it and I’m too shy to ask. I’M KIDDING; I’m not shy to ask. I just didn’t care if he posted it or not, so I didn’t think to ask him until this very moment.
I’ve definitely been more present with those around me over the past days without social media. And I love that a lot. No taking time to write a status or edit a picture. And I’ve discovered it’s kinda funny to be around someone else when they’re composing something for social media. Like, there you are sitting or standing next to someone, but they’re more interested in sharing something with people they can’t see than in talking with you. Hmmm. Pretty sure I’ve done that a ton.
DAY FOURTEEN: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25
Today, Jonathan and I had a great talk about social media…how we look to it for distraction and amusement, how it can be used for good and evil, and how to use it as a tool to encourage others. We talked about how a simple moment from our day can be shared either with a grateful, godly spirit or with a complaining, “my life is terrible” attitude.
DAY FIFTEEN: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26
Today could be my first day back on social media as last night was the completion of two weeks. But the guidelines I created for the next 2 weeks list Sunday as an “off” day, and I didn’t want to cheat on that right out of the gate. Besides, there’s a part of me that has rather enjoyed this break, despite the initial difficulties.
I began writing down my final thoughts, but the length of this two-week journal post is rather unwieldy as it is. Thus, I’ll process and compile final thoughts as to this experiment and publish them later this week.
If you have any questions regarding this post or the entire experiment,
drop it in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll address what I can.