Opening the apps on my phone felt like a full-on assault. Every social platform was intense, harsh, and painful to scroll through. It's not the first time I have felt this way about the social media world, but I think for the first time, I have seen just how much social media is killing us.
The social world has connected us more than ever while revealing how divided we actually are.
We have praised the digital age, information on demand, and connectedness. But the longer we wade deeper, the more dangerous it all becomes.
Several weeks ago, I deleted my social media apps. The days had been hostile with so much happening in the news, in culture, and compounded by quarantine. The information that I was seeking and encouragement I so deeply needed was no longer present. In an instant, social media felt like it was creating a war between its users.
I had to ask myself some hard questions about my social media habits that I think we all ought to sit with.
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Is my use of social media beneficial?
Even ten years ago, social media wasn’t ruling our daily lives. It wasn’t readily available on our phones. We required a computer to access it, and we were limited in the time that we spent on it.
Now that it is in our hands, we can access information in seconds. We can scroll endlessly for hours watching other people live their lives. Don’t get me wrong; it can have great benefits when catching up with old friends. But, we have to ask ourselves the hard question; is my time spent on social media beneficial?
Is the noise of the online world making me anxious or struggle with depression?
The endless scrolling on Instagram and Facebook temporarily numbs our minds while simultaneously filling and overwhelming our us with opinions, ads, and everyone else’s problems. What is the price we are paying for the noise that we are putting into our minds?
Like a drug, the constant scrolling has become an addiction, a drug we use to exit our lives and dive into the lives of others. What is the price? An abundance of anxiety and depression.
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Is scrolling through social media healing, helpful, or harmful?
Because of the anxiety and depression that can come knocking with mindless scrolling, we have to ask if ourselves if what we are looking at is healing, helpful, harmful? I had to ask the hard question myself just a few weeks ago.
When I opened the apps, I was assaulted with news, hurting people spouting their pains online at the expense of others. We have crossed the line in the online world that says it is ok to say anything and everything that is on our minds without any regard for others.
Do I compare myself to people online?
This is probably one of the most harmful parts of being online, especially for women. We compare ourselves to others. What they have, what we don’t. Their families, their possessions, their jobs, etc. The list can go on and on.
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Comparison robs us of contentment in our own lives.
The online world has become a vast land of fairy tales and make-believe. What you see very rarely has an air of truth. That mom who takes a picture of her perfect children or home fails to show you the mess on the other side of the camera. The image portrayed isn’t reality. Comparing ourselves to something that isn’t even the truth is probably the greatest con the Enemy has developed.
The image portrayed makes us believe the grass is greener on the other side.
Is social media an idol in my life?
An idol is anything that we love more than God, anything that grabs our attention before God. What is it we choose instead of Jesus? Do we say we don’t have time to be in God’s word or to pray, and yet our phones will reveal that we spend hours a day scrolling through social media posts?
Tasks go undone, time is wasted, and what do we have to show for it? Overwhelm, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, broken relationships.
Idols will always rob us of truth and leave us empty and alone.
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Could I delete my apps and walk away for at least 30 days?
This is the question of all questions. Could you commit to thirty days without social media? It would mean logging out, deleting apps if it is too tempting. But it would mean choosing to walk away from the noise and the idol of social media in your life.
That is exactly what I did when I saw what it was doing to me. It was crippling my mind and crushing my heart. The words online were becoming more important than the words of God. I reached for my phone before I reached for the Word. I was exchanging the voice of God for toxic voices on the internet.
We can try and deny it, but if we think long and hard about it, we will see that social media is killing us slowly. Maybe not our physical bodies, but it is killing our minds.
Studies show what you put into your mind matters, what you think about, what you look at, all of it affects how your brain processes information. It can make or break your mental health. This year, coronavirus, social unrest, and even our own personal troubles have pushed many of us to our limits. Now more than ever, we must be aware of the information we are consuming.
Scripture tells us what we are to think of. What we are to consume and look at. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
I don’t miss it all these weeks later. Turning off my social media was the best choice I have made. I don’t know if or when I will turn it on again. It’s not worth it.
It’s time to ask ourselves the hard questions about the effect of social media in our lives. What is it doing to our minds and hearts? Is it an idol overtaking our relationship with God? Is it time to walk away?
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Emma Simpson
Originally published Friday, 10 July 2020.