This year I took (most of) the year off of social media. It started as a one month fast in January, and then I extended it to February, and then it was so nice I just never went back.
Technically, I did go back in September with the start of college football season. I hopped on Twitter to catch up on news and reports about UT sports. But I stayed away from Instagram and Facebook.
Here are some observations from my social media sabbatical…
I Missed Some Stuff
People had babies, got married, went to the beach, had surgery, celebrated anniversaries, ate delicious meals…you get the picture. For the most part, I knew about the big stuff in the lives of people closest to me. I did, however, miss a lot of updates on a friend’s wife who was going through chemo for breast cancer. That was tough to miss, but you know what I did? I texted my friend and asked for updates and how I could be praying. Social Media keeps you in the loop, but sometimes a little too in the loop, and in a loop that might be a little too big, at least for me.
I Didn’t Miss What I Missed
Mostly, I didn’t miss feeling bad about how I didn’t take an epic trip or how I don’t eat out more often. I didn’t miss reading articles about all the things I should be doing as a dad or as a pastor. I didn’t miss all the ads for stuff I didn’t know I needed or wanted!
I Saw My Heart
At some point I had to accept the reality that what I’m *most* interested in on social media is….me. I’m pretty attached to the likes, comments and shares. I used to open the apps just to see how people responded to *me*. I wonder if that sounds as ugly to you reading this as it does to me typing it. (Now I’ll be sure to jump on multiple times an hour to see if you liked this) Taking a break was a good detox from this and gave my heart some time to change.
I Found Other Ways to Distract Myself
So now what do I do without these apps on my phone? Spend more time with family and be more present in the moment? That was the plan. And I think I did OK at the beginning. But soon I found other outlets – news, games, work/email – to distract myself and keep my mind racing. This isn’t a social media problem. It’s a personal problem. Still a work in progress on this one!
I Missed My Voice
Probably the thing I missed most was having a voice in the lives of others. By liking your picture, it feels like I’m saying “yes! I’m for you!” Or I could comment and let you know I’m praying for you. Or I could share something God is teaching me in the hope that it encourages you or challenges you. When my heart isn’t struggling with narcissism, social media can be a powerful tool for sharing hope and wisdom and cheering for you.
I’m A Little Afraid to Come Back
Not because social media is evil, but because I’m so broken, easily distracted, and quickly consumed with comparison and criticism and envy. I do think I’ve learned some things this past year, and if I jump back in I will set some boundaries. I think that’s a healthy goal for all of us.
So what about you? How does social media shape your life? Do you feel like you have healthy boundaries around it? Are you aware of how it impacts your heart or mind? These are good things to think about, and sometimes a good fast helps.