It all started with a conversation with a friend about the prospect of deleting all forms of social media and living purely as our non-digital selves. It seemed radical, a small protest against our social networks. Did we dare demand that our friends relate with us in phone calls and personal visits? I wasn’t quite ready to take the leap, so I compromised by unfollowing almost all of my facebook friends. (Unfriending seemed mean, and I liked the idea of occasionally browsing old friends’ profiles even if I didn’t need to see daily photos of them eating french fries or sipping fancy lattes.) I left only posts from friends I had intentions of spending real time with in the future.
Turns out, facebook wasn’t designed for such a minimalist news feed. Most of my close friends post sparingly, so the site’s algorithm has resorted to posts liked by friends of friends of friends. Bleeeeehhh.
Grumblings aside, I achieved something by making my facebook feed so boring. By denying myself the voyeuristic pleasure of scrolling through the adventures and offspring of former acquaintances, I was forced to find other ways to occupy my restless brain. I started thinking about how to create space for the people I care about most or want to get to know better. I thought about how I could use those 5-minute lulls in my day to read The Economist or send a friend an encouraging text.
When we start thinking in terms of real relationships, it becomes easier to use social media in a healthy way. We see it as a tool for building community rather than a distraction to make ourselves feel better.
As I’ve been reflecting on my use of social media, this verse came to mind:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1a
No, I don’t think social media is sinful – but it is a great venue for sin. In this next series of devotionals, we’ll be having an honest conversation with God about the way we use social media. We’ll confess our mixed motives, our insecurities, and pray that God would use our digital lives to further His Kingdom rather than hampering it. As a start, take a few minutes to consider the following:
-How does my time on social media help me?
-On the other hand, how does social media hinder me? What are some ways I allow it to “entangle” my life?
-Do I see the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, self control, etc.) in myself when I use social media?
We’ll discuss some practical ways to create boundaries on our social media use next week. For now, begin thinking critically about your online habits. Become aware of the emotions that lead you toward mindless scrolling, and challenge yourself to turn your brain on in the face of endless news feeds. Most of all, take time to share your thoughts with God before you share them with the entire world. He might just teach you something. 😉