I had a lot of issues with social media 6 months ago. So I quit Facebook and Instagram and gained some perspective. I’m back now, but my time off answered 12 specific questions I asked myself when I started:
1. Will a break from social media Lessen Screen Time?
Honest confession: My eyeballs were still hooked on my phone these last 6 months, mostly on Pinterest.
It wasn’t all bad though! I pinned and experimented with recipes in my kitchen. I discovered my personal design taste and used it to make our home feel enriching and lovely. I expanded my gardening knowledge and gained green thumb motivation.
So the scrolling didn’t feel like a loss or waste of time, rather a creative and energizing boost for improving our life. The downside: my improvement mentality often overpowers my enjoyment mentality. Everything has become a project, rather than a space or a meal. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but worth noting.
Action Plan: Set different limits. Avoiding social media did not limit screen time. I need specific boundaries to keep me from being a phone zombie.
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:6-8
2. Will I stop envying people who don’t have social media?
Yes, I stopped envying them. I felt proud to be one of them. But then I felt lonely sometimes when a friend mentioned their instagram post or a Facebook party.
Action plan: deal with envy at the foot of the cross, not through regulations and life changes.
For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. James 3:16-17
Sadly, I didn’t. I leaned heavily into emails, and was invited to some speaking events. But the events were canceled due to the quarantine. I have seen almost zero book sales for Joyfully Ever After since my social media break.
Action plan: keep working hard. Grow my audience and sell more books through a calculated social-media marketing plan (instead of winging it every week with underwhelming results). When the quarantine lifts, continue reaching out for in-person speaking events to share the hope God has given me.
She sees that her profits are good, and her lamp never goes out at night. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. Proverbs 31:18, 25
4. Will I make the most of my time for God’s kingdom?
I want my time and energies to count for God’s kingdom. A wasted hour on social media makes my heart sink. During my break, I realized that wasting time is a heart issue, not a social media issue.
Action Plan: repent, received grace, and press on in all areas of my life. There isn’t a quick fix, rather, I think it’s a process of staying in step with the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh… If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16, 25
5. Could I gain respect for certain acquaintances?
Yes! This is one lesson I will hold on to for all future social media interactions. Not knowing someone’s political views or seeing their polarizing posts was huge in diffusing my annoyance when I saw them in public.
Action plan: unfollow but still be friends. I want to approach people in real life with warmth and compassion. Sometimes “not knowing” removes the hurdles to that end.
[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7
6. Will I find a sustainable way to celebrate our memories?
Nope! In 6 months, I did not take any time to build a photo album we could enjoy on our coffee table or a home video we could watch as a family on a Saturday night. It wasn’t realistic.
Action plan: post, share, and enjoy private Facebook albums and keep our memories alive! Also, in a more realistic season without a baby and pre-schoolers, I will work on those photo/video albums.
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 12-13
7. Can I find deeper human connection?
Somewhat. Instead of posting pictures, I sent pictures in texts to friends and family. I called and Facetimed more often, and specifically reconnected with a long-distance friend.
Still, I think the experiment would work best if ALL people cut out social media and had to become more organic in our connection together. It felt a bit one sided.
Action plan: it’s not realistic to get everyone I know to quit social media. It’s like saying let’s all go play tennis on a hot day instead of play in the pool. Right now, the pool is better. So I wade back into the FB and IG waters carefully, smiling, enjoying the company again. Sorry I made that awkward.
That said, I am still passionate about personal and deeper connection.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
This is the big one. I did feel liberated from the need to get online approval. In fact, I felt nervous to get back on social media for this reason. I’ve been set free from a daily battle, I don’t want to engage in it again.
However, I still struggled with people-pleasing and comparison in real life. So the problem wasn’t solved, rather shifted.
Action Plan: celebrate other’s posts! Be grateful I get to cheer them on them rather than discouraged I don’t have a similar highlight. Take breaks from social media daily, weekly, and monthly. Keep my eyes on Jesus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
9. Will it make me free to “battle” elsewhere?
This is starting to sound like a medieval board game. I didn’t find myself instantly championing other spiritual battlefields after I quit social media. I still lived my stay-present mama life, teaching college students more about Jesus and cheering my husband on in youth ministry. Getting off social media and away from the comparison trap did not give me insight into some epic arena God was calling me to pray-battle in.
My life remains normal and that is important too.
Action plan: adjust my expectations for life, prayer and spiritual warfare.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12
10. Will I get a book-marketing miracle?
Well, I prayed and God provided speaking events. Yay! I stocked up on books to sell at each event. The first event I only sold 5 books. Thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak, the other events have been cancelled.
I’d say my marketing miracle was a little disappointing.
Action plan: For now, I wait with about 195 books on my shelf, asking God for guidance, patience, and courage. Do I return to building a social media platform, playing Twister with all its algorithms and competing with all the people who are doing the same? Do I continue with The Weekly Spark emails, bumping up the sales-y tactics? Do I wait for the social distancing crisis to end and events to reschedule? I am still waiting on these answers.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
11. Will my hiatus catalyze an anxiety-prison break?
Apparently my break-up inspired a few lovely souls. Mostly, though, people note that it is unrealistic to leave social media altogether, even if it causes them emotional strain. Breaks are imperative for social media health, but the balance must be sustainable.
Action plan: instead of blazing the trail for a social-media-less life, perhaps the greatest help I could give others is defining helpful fences or boundaries to make social media less anxiety-prone?
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
12. Could I find my life by losing it?
Yes, I believe I did in some ways. One evening several months into the break, I said to my husband, “It’s like I was in a cage before, and now I’m outside of it, seeing everyone else still stuck.”
The freedom from the viral spiral has been bliss. The distance from comparison temptation was a solid health move.
However, the snobbery that welled up inside me about quitting Facebook had the opposite affect. So now I must lose my anti-social media life in order to gain freedom from pretentiousness.
Another note: I took less pictures these last 6 months. I was more present without my phone, but I don’t have the photos to keep memories alive. I’d say that was part gain, part loss.
Action plan: I must find my life by losing it, daily, and not just through social media.
Sometimes we need a leap. We need one big action or life-change to gain ground in our walk with God.
More often than not, though, it’s the daily, mundane, faithful steps that take us, one at a time, in the direction of holiness.
I desperately want a genuine and growing faith. I see today that social media is not the obstacle or the avenue. As God’s word clearly states, it comes down to who is in the driver’s seat of my life?
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39
Thanks for reading! If this gave you any insight, would you comment below?
Then share this with a friend, or check out these further resources: