Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I feel the need to keep “checking social media?” I’ve asked myself this question. My question to us is how much do we feel like we are “checking in” and how much is it that we want to feel good about ourselves? One of the reasons we may check social media is to make sure that we are not missing out on anything important. Y’all FOMO is REAL. My goal for this post is not to go in and say cut out social media but to become more aware of how we spend our time on social media.
I read this article about our need for social media and so much stood out to me---
“It's commonly accepted that whatever selfie makes it online will have first been cropped, filtered, and scrutinized to death and that a significant chunk of your time will be spent gazing at your face afterward, waiting for the likes to roll in. “Even as we’re inwardly judging others for posting unrealistic content, we’re doing the exact same thing to varying degrees, curating an image of ourselves that we want people to see, while softening or omitting the stuff we’d rather keep hidden. So what we end up showing the world is the version of ourselves we actually like, rather than the full picture of who we are.
And it’s in this quiet omission that we redefine and reshape our image into one that we’re proud of—one that we want to watch all the time. “You’re putting forth the highlight reel of your life, and when you tap through your Instagram story or scroll through your Facebook profile at the end of the day, you’re reliving the best moments of it,” says Dr. Campbell. “The stress is stripped down, you’re looking at yourself in the way you want other people to see you, and your brain says, ‘Hey, I had a good day, and I’m a decent person. We start to believe our own illusions on social media, because we see other people believing them, too,” says Dr. Vogel. “So not only are we falling in love with our online persona but so are our followers, which creates this self-perpetuating cycle of validation.”
The truth is...checking social media can become addicting. It’s almost as if we can’t help ourselves. I wanted to know more about the effects of social media and what it can do to us. Here’s what I found in a research article---” Though neuroscience hasn’t officially been studied, every expert I spoke with agreed that there could be a level of addiction that comes with social media. “In terms of drugs, we know that the faster something reaches your brain, the more addicting it is, since it lights up your brain’s reward system so quickly,” says Dr. Vogel. “Social media engagement is instantaneous; you upload a photo, you get validation, you want more.” We basically receive a boost when we log onto social media. Wild, right?!
We live in such a different generation from our parents and grandparents. With so much access and awareness that can come from social media, I was curious about how we can balance it all. I found this article on “How would Jesus use social media”. It was such a good read that I wanted to include it in my blog. The title is “Jesus: A Model for Engagement and Withdrawal” (Source; https://www.ccbcfamily.org/jesus-use-social-media/)
Who knew that we can look at how Christ lived to help us with how we live today?! See, Jesus had this habit of being hyper-present. When He was with people, He was FULLY there. He would go into a city and spend time with the masses of people teaching and healing. He seemed to listen fully and speak with complete intentionality, yet when it was necessary, he would also withdraw. He knew when to be social and when to pull away and be by himself. I think we could learn a thing or two from Him. I mean, think about— He secluded himself in the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross. In Luke 5:16, it says that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
This means that Jesus had an understanding that withdrawal was a necessary tool. It gave Him the ability to fully engage with the people around Him. He even made it a habit for His disciples.“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” – Mark 6:31 (ESV)
Just like Christ, we have to be about that balanced life. I came across the term, “meaningful engagement.” Our social lives are tied to social media so it’s not about cutting it completely out. I believe the goal should be to just increase our time of meaningful engagement. You may be asking, “what does meaningful engagement even mean?” From the article, I learned that meaningful engagement means that “we don’t blindly hop onto social media to kill a few minutes or hours. It means that we use our “digital footprint” as an extension of our faith.”
Here are some practical tips from the article to help us navigate through social media--
How to Practice Meaningful Engagement:
It’s best to think twice before we post anything. I think it would save us a lot of headaches. We have to ask ourselves...
What is my motivation for this?
Am I doing this to make myself look good?
If God saw this, would he be okay with it?
Just as there is a time for meaningful engagement, we have to have times of purposeful withdrawal. Just as Jesus chose at times to withdraw from people, so too there are times when it is necessary for us to unplug from social media.”
How to Practice Purposeful Withdrawal:
Be present with others –“ We should withdraw from social media from time to time in order to be present with those around us. Mealtimes and family gatherings are a great place to purposely say “no” to social media so we can say “yes” to our friends and family and even strangers.”
Set boundaries – “We should set boundaries in our lives so that social media doesn’t own us. Do you have a social media bedtime where you put your phone away or stop checking your feeds? Does your time with God seem to get crowded out by your notifications? Then maybe it’s time to set some boundaries for sleep and quiet time so you can rest and reflect.” Basically, our God time >>>> our Screen time.
Extended fasts –“ Social media has the effect of pulling us away from experiencing the world around us. One tip can be to set a social media-free week. Instead of wondering what everyone else is doing, we can enjoy the rest of what we’re doing." Maybe an extended fast can free up time for prayer, quiet time, and just living in the moment.
If social media gets to be too much, here are a few signs that will let you know when it is time to take a step away...
5 signs That Social media is an Idol:
Social media is the first thing you check when you wake up.
Social media is the last thing you check before you go to bed
Your screen time> your God time
You turn to social media before you turn to God.
You care more about what your followers may think over God.
Questions to know if social media is stealing your joy:
1. Do you compare yourself pridefully to others?
2. Do you compare yourself negatively to others?
3. Do you envy those with a significant other and wish it was you?
4. Do you see people doing “awesome” ministry work and wish that could be you?
5. Do you see sponsored posts and wish you had enough followers to do it?
6. Do you get anxious after posting something on social media?
7. Do you worry about things you can’t control?
8. Do you enjoy getting a rise out of people by trolling them online?
9. Do you spend more time on your phone than interacting with others face-to-face?
10. How much time do you spend on social media a day?
Tips that I Found Helpful to Remember—
It’s important to remember that if your “joy” comes at someone else’s expense, then there is something off.
When comparing ministry—Ask yourself, “But if we even bring one soul to salvation, isn’t that worth it?” Remembering this point can help us maintain perspective and helps us to keep our joy.
A recent survey found that social media starts to affect mental health after just ONE hour a day.”
Things that I have tried to keep my social media time in check:
No social media in the first 2 hours and last 2 hours of my day.
Continue to fast from social media one week out of the month
Check my motive before posting anything across all my social media platforms
Keep an app screen time limit on my phone. (This may be drastic but will definitely help to kick the habit. You can always lift the limit at any time.)
These are just a few tips but find out what works for you! Sis, I know it is not fair to say that we should completely cut social media off because it’s how we connect. AND that isn’t realistic!!. But I’m including myself when I say I have to do a better job with how I engage with social media. It is ALL about a balance between meaningful engagement and purposeful withdrawal.
All I want for you to take away from this post is to figure out where you are and to work on finding the perfect balance for you!