I took a social media break and here's what changed
READ TIME: 4 MINUTES
We all know social media can have negative effects, but we still use it every single day! For me, usually multiple hours per day.
I love using social media, which is why it’s important to know the pros & cons of using it and how we can shrink those negative effects.
My phone usage this past week. (Might delete later…)
To check your phone usage, go to Settings and search “Battery”.
I recently posed this question to my Facebook followers:
What’s an upside or downside of social media?
The responses made me think deeper about how to create healthy habits online.
The upside of social media:
Before we identify potential negative effects, let’s answer why we use it in the first place. The positive effects include:
Building new relationships & maintaining relationships
Connectivity, especially with long-distance friends & family
Quickly spreading ideas & information
Finding people who want to discuss the topics that interest you
That sounds like it’s all peaches & cream, but we all know that’s not the case. Since we now realize the benefits, let’s discuss the drawbacks and how to avoid them.
The downside of social media:
It’s easier to be lazy with friendships. You can simply check a status instead of calling/texting a friend or family member.
It’s harder to disconnect from your phone and have personal time, spiritual time, and real-life social time.
It becomes an echo chamber for like-minded people which excludes you from diverse opinions and perspectives. Consequently, we hear more from people who confirm our own biases.
Social media acquaintances can receive more of our time than the people we are physically around every day: family, friends, neighbors, coworkers. Beyond that, when there’s an imbalance (read: addiction) to social media, we don’t have the capacity for higher thoughts and deeper thinking, which is where our contemplative thoughts arise. This is where we have access to the Spirit’s leading. If we’re imbalanced, we miss God’s voice, and that quickly leads to confusion about life direction and purpose.
For Christians, the biggest problem with social media is that we give so much of our daily lives to it that we have less time, space, and energy for God.
Counteract the downside
So how do we counteract the negative effects while still maintaining the positive effects — the reasons we actually use these apps?
The way I do it is by taking frequent breaks, usually when we travel. It’s a chance for me to unplug from my phone and become more aware of my present situation. After unplugging from social media for just one day, I become more aware of my surroundings, the pretty little flower beds and the people at stores I frequent. I become more aware of my husband and when he’s communicating with his body language or his facial features beyond his words. I become more aware of how I feel personally, oftentimes I feel delighted by the little things — a good cup of coffee, a book to read, my dog’s mid-day snores — but it goes unnoticed when I’m preoccupied by my phone.
Most importantly, I become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings. In my faith journey, sometimes God is the loudest voice, like a hurricane surrounding me. But usually, His voice is like a still, small whisper, and I can only hear it when I’m tuned in to Him and tuned out of all the distractions.
How God sounds to me
When I’m in tune with God, I can switch gears quickly when I’m in tune with Him, and I feel such peace about the changes. Over the last year, I wrote a book that I felt led to write. After I finished writing it, though, I felt off about it. God told me to set that one down and start writing a different one As I’ve been working on this new book, I realize it’s a much better premiere book for me.
These quick, seemingly small conversations are pivotal both long-term and in the interim. They’re what change my character, help refine my personality, and guide me into a rich and fruitful life. That life includes seasons of winter when certain things I’ve held onto must die, and it includes summertime, where everything grows thick and lush. Knowing which things should take root and which should be uprooted requires the voice of the Spirit, which requires my listening ears.
If you resonate with that feeling of being in-tune with social media but out-of-tune from God’s voice, then I invite you to take a social media break. Start with just one day away.
During my most recent 2-week detox, I jotted down 10 profound benefits I received, including greater clarity in my life’s purpose, better focus on my work, and more mindfulness to appreciate my actual life (not my virtual one).
If you feel like you need a break from social media, schedule it within the next week. Start with 1 day away and journal about how you feel at the end of the day. Are you able to enjoy the little moments more fully? Do you feel happier and more aware of your emotions? Are you more focused and productive?
Most importantly, do you feel more in tune with the Lord? I find that taking a social media break gives me more time to meditate on what God’s teaching me.
At the end of the day, each of us decides how we use our most precious resource of time. Use it wisely!
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