Social media is a tool and a resource. It helps us connect with loved ones and to form new relationships, despite the boundaries of space and time. The intended purpose of this connection is a beautiful thing, and not one to be dismissed lightly. It’s amazing that at the click of a button on a small rectangular device, we send messages through millions of miles in a matter of seconds. At the touch of a finger, I can see photos of my new baby nephew or my friend Emily’s cat.
There is an abundance of reasons to defend modern ways of socializing. But what happens when sin and idolatry creep in to something intended for good?
As we look around us, we see this time and time again with what God created for good. Let us consider the example of sex, it is a good gift, given from God both for enjoyment and creation. When sin and idolatry creep into sex, it often becomes something very different than what God intended. Our sin nature enables us to take something good and pervert it. We can take the blessing of something innocuous and use it in dramatically different ways than its origin.
Last year I realized, like so many others, I had fallen victim to the snare of sin in my use of social media. I glorified myself through each post and often found myself judging others through theirs. Jesus says that if our hand causes us to sin, it is better to cut it off and go to heaven maimed than to risk an eternity of separation from Him (Mark 9:43). I came to realize that this, like much of Jesus’ teaching, applied to a very broad area of life; it certainly applied to me and my use of social media.
Simply put: social media was a part of my life that was not bearing fruit. It did not contribute to my walk with God, and even took time away from him. I was a mindless consumer. One post led to another and before I knew it, hours had passed and my eyes were strained. I would finish my browsing feeling like I had lost a small piece of myself. Feeling like I did not measure up to the standards I saw, I began creating new ones that looked nothing like Jesus. It became clear I needed to to take Jesus as his word and “cut it off completely.”
I deleted my social media accounts on December 29, 2018, making a vow to myself and and to God that I would commit to this extended social media fast and use any excess time gained to study and grow in my faith. So, I spent my New Year’s Eve downloading my social media data and deleting my accounts (find out more about downloading your data here). I knew myself well enough to know that if I temporarily disabled my accounts, this might leave room for temptation to “re-enlist.”
Four months into the year and I feel like I have broken free from the addiction at last.
These few months taught me much about myself and others, and so I made the decision not to return to the world of social media. Once I stopped participating, I discovered my absence really made no difference one way or the other to those who still were. My closest friends and family are still exactly that, with frequent, intentional communication.
I don’t feel as though this decision has harmed a single relationship, or aspect of my life. Though I used to think I had to “capture” the moments and share them, I now realize that this is a form of prison. I find myself more intentional and loving with my time, and more open to the community and neighbors I pass by every day. I am in less of a hurry to share a moment. And I am more obliged to enjoy the gift of the moment God gave me.
Consider the ways you use social media. Is it a blessing or a curse? Has your relationship with social media been distorted?