During the six weeks of Lent this year, I took a hiatus from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I always tell people it’s good for the soul to get off social media because social media is, well, about you. It’s like a detox for the self-absorbed soul. Here’s are three things I learned/was reminded of during the past six weeks.
- Being free from social media reminds me that I do not need to stay updated on everything that is happening in the world—big or small. The world goes on whether or not I know everything (imagine that!). Social media deceives us into thinking that we are more valuable or more fulfilled if we simply have information. We are gluttons for information. Information is important but a worthwhile and fruitful life consists of much more than having information. Today we have more information than we have ever had, yet the world is not really getting all that better. I’m not saying that we should all be clueless about what’s going on in the world. I am saying that social media can trigger our—my—desire to know information and assume the knowing is sufficient.
- Being free from social media reminds me that I do not need to comment on everything that is happening in the world. My opinion matters very little (so take this post with a grain of salt). But the good news is your opinion matters very little as well. There’s only One voice that matters, and it’s God’s, not ours. It is important to write and dialog with others for a variety of reasons—and social media helps facilitate that. But feeling a need or compulsion to do so is dangerous and destructive. Social media has created a world in which everyone can be a commentator. It’s created a world in which power and influence are more easily obtained than ever before. Anyone can have an instant platform. But with this can come a sense of entitlement—not only that I am free to state my opinion, but that my opinion must be acknowledged and heard and even accepted by the masses. Social media thus becomes a kind of power broker. If you are on it and use it a lot, your reputation grows and influence spreads. This can be a good thing, but it can also morph into an unhealthy, crooked, and perverted desire for approval and control.
- Being free from social media reminds me that the simple life is the best life. Every time I take a break from social media, I re-learn that there is beauty, joy, and peace in simplicity. Social media, in particular, and technology, in general, are good for so many things. They are good gifts from God. But social media is a bonus. It’s a tool. It’s peripheral, not essential. When used excessively and incorrectly, it complicates life. Social media can prevent us from engaging in the beauty of personal relationships and fool us into thinking that people who are not our friends actually are our friends. It tempts us, whispering, “Post this and watch how many comments and ‘likes’ you get!” To reiterate my first point, it throws thousands of pieces of information at us, encouraging binge-reading (or scrolling) and keeping us from deep reflection and true application. But in the past six weeks without social media, I never felt less human. On the contrary, in some sense, I felt more human. I’d like to believe I was a bit more in tune with what God was doing in the world and with the people around me. I hope that was the case. That’s the simple life–the best life. Social media too often subtly distracts me from the best life.
What about you? Have you ever taken a hiatus from social media? If so, how did it benefit you?