What I discovered on a week away from Social Media
My time away from social media confirmed it: My problem is me. It’s easy to blame things, people or culture for the angst we feel, or the tension we have. The truth remains that the only thing we possess total power to change is “me.”
It didn’t take much time for me to identify where my heart needed to soften and my mind needed to shift. As I expressed in my previous blog, a few things in my life were going through a bit of an unraveling. It was/is uncomfortable. I didn’t want to avoid it, merely indulging the distractions of scrolling YOUR life to escape mine. I wanted to practice silence, and make room for the hard questions. Information overwhelm had created a procrastination in me.
It was time for me to redefine success–for me, and not compared to yours. I needed to dig into my faith, values and dreams without trolling yours that permeate through my small screen. My soul needed rest. And that’s what it found.
The beginning of my week away brought the somewhat shameful awareness that I’m addicted. Without even thinking, in any environment and in all kinds of company, it was second nature to grab my phone and swipe my thumb up. I’ve called that connection. It’s really faulty substitution for offline interaction. Without the ability to spectate “friends” from afar, I instead engaged with friends near. I called, I texted, I set up coffees and lunches. I grew because I made space to read, journal and be still. I felt more connected, more kind and less agitated. I was more present as a wife, mom and friend. I was more effective as a business leader and minister. Wherever I was, I was ALL there. The bigger issue, the real question, the deeper dive was about my calling. I logged off to listen. I wanted to hear from God and lean into His words.
Would I care as much about my success or failures if I had no hand-held way of measuring them up to yours? Am I anxious about the timelines of my dreams simply because of the race I participate in among seeming strangers on socials? I wondered whether if the “celebrity” of social media that’s been cultivated in our culture was actually gone–if our influence was not known–would the incessant striving cease? Could I simply listen to Jesus and do what He said? If my impact was not publicized, elevated, compared to or known by online onlookers, would I still be as vigilant?
I discovered my answer: “YES!” I love God and I love people. That truth remained under some of the hardness that I had allowed to surround my heart. I would serve them both more freely and with greater joy, without the social awareness of how big or small my influence is. The “celebrity-ness” of it all makes it about the very thing that sucks the life out of me…the endless pursuit of ME.
I found myself excited again about my path. Stepping away from the noise helped me see clearly. Over my short ten days off social media, there were very meaningful moments. I led and participated in local ministry and business events that were quite meaningful. Not posting or publicizing my good work was freeing. Honestly, some days your feedback of likes or comments has a louder voice in my ear on whether what I’m doing matters or not. I learned these not-so-pretty parts of me–the places in my heart where my flesh screams, “See me, notice me–YOU validate ME.”
But that’s okay. It’s good. Because I can take the power back. I’ve spent too much time giving onlookers the say of how I serve God and others. I’ve let other’s work determine whether my work was worth it. Without all the knowledge of what “they” are doing or accomplishing, I realized I am honored to do what I do. I even want to grow in those things. I don’t want to quit. I love my path. Logging off of social media reminded me that the measuring stick of my work is GOD’S Word, not theirs.
So. Now I re-enter the modern. I do this with the keen awareness that it can hijack my heart out of nowhere. I’ve deleted the apps off my phone for now, just as a guardrail. And I’m again reminded that my problem is with socials is not you, it’s me. I’m re-entering with gratitude that this crazy online society enables me to connect with people all over the world. It breaks down barriers of communication and allows for easy and instant communication that I love. It has provided incredible opportunities for me as a minister and business leader. And so many days it’s provided general fun and entertainment. You often make me smile.
So while the culture of social media has some proven challenges like any generation does, the successful navigating of all that depends on God’s Word in me.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)