Wondering if your social media habits are sustainable for the next 50 years of your life? Me too! Here’s why I am taking a year off (maybe more!):
*This post has been updated April 30, 2020 with my discoveries on this topic. Please see notes in red. Thanks for joining my journey!
1: I want to stop being envious.
I am drawn to people who don’t have social media accounts. I envy their freedom and peace of mind. Off the top of my head, I only know 3 people like this. My husband felt the same, so he did something about it. Now I know 4. The Bible says “do not envy” and I’d like to obey the Bible, so on November 1st, you’re about to meet number 5. How many people do you know with no social media accounts?
Did it work? 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
2: I have lost respect for a lot of people.
I have a lot of social media friends that are really just acquaintances in real life: people I shake hands with at church, someone I take a class with at the gym, etc.
It is not realistic to know all of these people on a deep level. There is no real life exchange of ideas or sharing of emotions. But you know what does exist in real life?
Voicing a polarizing ideal takes courage in conversation. Posting it only takes a click.
On a given Sunday, I can worship side-by-side with someone at church in the morning, then feel attacked and marginalized by their Facebook post that afternoon. Later, I avoid them, even despise them sometimes, in real life.
I live on the other end of this too! My opinions and shares can be taken out of context just as easily.
My prayers for unity for God’s people need to start with my own heart. I cannot control people being human, saying things that hurt one another. But I can control my awareness of it.
That’s right, I want to be blissfully ignorant of people’s flaws for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
Getting off social media is my way of living out God’s Word which says:
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
So, did I stop being envious? 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
3: I want a sustainable way to celebrate our memories.
I’m excited to replace social media time with other meaningful investments. Like making photo books and writing in the journals we began for each kid at their birth.
I will miss the Facebook “memories” that pop up, but Shutterfly has the same feature. And a family album on our coffee table will do the trick too. Hard copies of memories give me peace of mind also. I don’t need to worry about electronics fizzing out or a server crashing and losing my data.
Ultimately, I want our memories to be a part of our home, not imprisoned in my phone.
How did it work out? Not great. 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
4: I want deeper human connection.
I haven’t called my grandma in months. She hasn’t called me either. We both know generally what is going on with one another, so there isn’t much of a need for a conversation. I’ve been mourning that for a while. Now I am doing something about that.
6 months later…. I had some success. 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
5: I want to protect the treasure that is my life.
Moments have become cheap. We under-appreciate them because we expect everyone else to do the appreciating with their like’s and comments. If I keep things more private by not posting on social media, perhaps I will cherish each moment more.
It feels a lot like social and professional suicide to take a year off of social media. I cling to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25, “whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” I am counting on this loss of mediated connection to help me find true life again.
I can hear you asking, “But what about all your Social media memories?”
No doubt there are some valuable comments and posts there too. Thankfully, there is a way to download and save EVERYTHING from your Facebook account and your Instagram. See these CNET articles for the eye-opening truth:
This is me signing off for a year and happily becoming a black sheep among my generation.
So… how’d this all work out for me?
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?