Since blogging about the social media epidemic, I re-downloaded Instagram. I was only on it for a week before recognizing (ok, my husband noticed it first) how much time it had started to take up. It wasn’t that much – comparatively. It wasn’t as much as it had been before I deleted the app back in March; but, obviously, it was more than the time I spent on it when I didn’t have it. On top of realizing how Instagram stole precious minutes of free time by myself or quality time with my husband, I felt all those emotions and expectations that I always experience when I am on Instagram.
“Look at my dog being cute!” *Add to Story*
“Look at the coffee I just made!” *Add to Story*
“I should take a picture and edit it perfectly and post it to tell everyone what I did this weekend!”
It’s an unhealthy mindset that was slowly seeping back into my life.
So Instagram got deleted again. But this time, I wanted to take it a step further. No more Facebook posts, interactions, scrolling, or stalking. No more Pinterest either, but technically that was more for the time it took up than the social/make-sure-I-post-cute/funny/honest-things mindset since Pinterest isn’t really social media.
Since getting rid of Instagram and refusing to check Facebook, I’m learning something:
I didn’t realize how much time and head-space “posting” took up, until posting things wasn’t an option.
I didn’t realize how many times I did something and my first thought was, “I can’t wait to share this,” until I couldn’t share in a public forum.
For many of us, it’s easy to temporarily delete social media or go on a short-term social media sabbatical (which is possibly what I’m doing with Facebook*). I had done that several times as a young(er) adult. But my mindset has shifted just a little more with each time I’ve removed myself from social media over the past few months.
I’m freer than I’ve been in ages. I don’t have a barrage of perfection every time I get on my phone. I don’t wonder if I’m doing cool enough or fun enough things (as much). Less and less I think about posting something or how I would phrase things so that people understood how awesome that thing/person/food was.
There is freedom from the bondage of expectations, and contentment to be found when we are not constantly fed false realities.
Social media takes up time. Social media puts pressure on us. Social media makes us wish things were different. Social media makes us think we must share about our lives to document what we’ve done, thought, read, found, or experienced. We do this so that we can 1) get approval and 2) make it “official.”
Did you even do something cool, fun, interesting, dangerous, or horrible if you didn’t share it on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook? Are you even doing anything worthwhile with your life if your super deep post didn’t get thousands of shares or millions of likes? Are you spiritual at all if you don’t check in at church, share what your devotions were about, or post lyrics from the worship songs you sang on Sunday?
I know there are truly spiritual people who do those things. I know that there are some great stories out there that people feel “should be” shared. And I know that with big life events, like graduation, engagement, marriage, new baby, sickness, or death, social media is a quick way to let tons of people know at once. But I worry that we have become too reliant on social media. I know that I had.
What kind of world do we live in where people we are close to – best friends or immediate family – share things on social media before they share them with us personally? Why do we feel the need to project that we are certain ways, even if they are good ways to be? Why can’t I go on trips, be an outdoorsy person, try new restaurants, have game nights with friends, try new things, make yummy food, find new music, without telling everyone? Why do we feel obligated to tell everyone?
What if we actually communicated in meaningful, personal ways? What if we actually just were instead of making sure we seemed like it in our Instagram captions? The concept of just living and being has been really front of mind recently.
I keep thinking, a bit sarcastically I suppose,
“What did people do before social media? How did they live, communicate, improve themselves, stay informed?”
I recognize that social media and the world wide web is very nearly essential for living in 2019. I may not like that fact, but I do recognize it. However, what if we used it sparingly? What if we utilized it for ministry? What if it was simply a steppingstone to real connections?
I don’t really have answers to these questions. But I want you to know that there is life outside of sharing about it. Just try it. Try doing awesome things or going cool places or hanging out with great friends without telling the internet about it. I wish I could fully communicate how incredibly freeing it is to think, “Man, this is a really awesome thing. I can’t wait to tell my husband/text my mom/tell my friend next time I see them,” instead of, “Ok, how can I fix the lighting in here and find the perfect angle and make sure my caption isn’t too long or sound fake and. . .”
People may not know what’s going on in my life. But if they care, they’ll ask. I’m trying to be more like that. Instead of saying I care about people or want to make connections, I’m trying to ask real questions and begin real relationships. I want to know the nitty-gritty stuff, the deep things God is revealing to you, how the book you just read shifted the way you thought about things, your fear about the doctor’s appointment coming up, what childhood events shaped you, how you would like to be different in five years.
This may not be for you. You may have a handle of social media and how much of your time and head-space it occupies. But maybe you just think you do. I encourage you to take a good look at your view of and time spent on all the different apps there are that allow us to “connect.” Maybe you need to disconnect for a week, or even just a day or two.
Let’s get back to the real purpose of our lives. It’s not about documenting or gathering followers or being an “influencer.” It’s about knowing Christ and making Him known. That’s what it comes down to. Maybe social media allows you to do that better, but maybe you just think it does. For me, it didn’t.
I didn’t realize what I had – the good, the bad, and the ugly – when I was on social media, until I got rid of it. But I don’t really miss it. Maybe you wouldn’t either.
*For those who will nay-say if I return to Facebook in a few weeks, months, or ever again, know that it will not be without thorough examinations of my own life and intentions. I have accountability set up and am grateful for all that I am learning while I am taking this time away. Whether I return to social media or not, God has changed my heart about many things and I hope and plan to have a better grasp on how I handle my time and social interactions from here on out. As is your decision to spend the time on social media that you do, it is my decision also. This blog post was written to remind us that life is not meant to be lived via posts and pictures. “There is freedom from the bondage of expectations, and contentment to be found when we are not constantly fed false realities.”