I learned a lot during my month-long political and social media break. I’m going to just share three simple things that became evident to me while the “noise” of social media was muted.
Three things I learned taking a news & social media break
1. There are two types of people in the social media world.
There are those who value humans over ideology, and those who value ideology over humans. It seems that with the advent of social media came a disconnect from seeing people online as human. Instead, many people can only see others as the ideas and beliefs they carry, forgetting that on the other side of the computer screen is a living, breathing person with real thoughts and feelings. I think more and more people have lost the ability to have friends who disagree politically, while still maintaining friendship. It’s unfortunate, but I think the best chance we have at changing this is to keep interacting on a human level.
Don’t be someone who values ideas over humans. Remember that we all, if we really got down to it, aren’t much different. And if we were to engage in real conversation, actually listening to one another, we would most likely discover that we are often working toward the same goals, just with different methods.
2. Social media has become our idol.
We often look to the Internet and social media to fill that God-sized hole in our hearts. We wait for that rush of endorphins when we get likes on our photos, we mourn when something we post seems to go unnoticed. We focus more of our time on the mirage of real life that is social media, instead of on the real relationships that are right in front of us.
If you’re wondering whether social media has become an idol for you, ask yourself:
*Does it give me greater joy than Jesus?
*Do I get anxiety when I don’t have it?
*Where do I spend more time: reading my Bible, or scrolling through Facebook?
*Is it what I look to for confirmation and/or affirmation?
*What would cause me more anxiety: losing my Bible, or losing my phone?
If these questions stirred something within you, I encourage you to step back for a period of time (I recommend at least a few weeks) to see what kind of withdrawal symptoms you have. Take that time to reflect on your relationship with Jesus and your real-life connections.
3. Peace is harder than war, especially online.
It takes a lot more self-control and patience to maintain peace than it does to lash out in disappointment and engage in the culture war. This isn’t as difficult to do in real life, however. When you’re standing face-to-face with someone you know, you naturally want to maintain a level of dignity and respect. However, when we scroll through Facebook and see someone posting something completely opposite of what we believe, it’s easy to let those emotions bubble up and spew out like hot lava.
If you want to reflect maturity and grace, try to maintain peace, even when you disagree with someone. Put in the extra effort needed in order to maintain an amicable conversation instead of allowing emotions to take over. It takes more time and more commitment, but it’s highly worth it in the end.
We all need to withdraw into the wilderness sometimes.
If you haven’t taken time for a social media break before, I highly recommend it. This past month, I was able to soak in many of the daily happenings that would normally fly past me.
One morning, I got this adorable note from my youngest daughter (she’s 8):
I about died reading how I’m “booty-full” and daddy is “ham-sum.” ?
One day, there was a crazy hail storm, and our whole family ran outside to play in it. I think Superman had the most fun:
We celebrated my daughter’s 10th birthday:
And my sweet dog, Huck, got even more cute:
This news & social media break has reminded me just how many people are in my inner circle, and how important it is to invest time into those relationships. I’ve committed to doing monthly heart-to-hearts with people in my circle of life. Whether it’s getting together for coffee, lunch, or just inviting a friend over for a few moments to connect, I want my closest friends to know they are valued and important to me.
I would love to hear from you: have you taken a social media break before? What was your experience? If you haven’t, are you willing to do so?