The Noise of Social Media

social media noise

As an introvert, I need time alone to reset and function well. And I’ve learned that I don’t need to have a tremendous number of friends, just a few close ones. So while social media seems like a great way for me to keep in touch with people when I can’t spend time with them in person – due to distance or schedules or any number of factors – the reality is that social media simply has caused more noise in my life.

What were people on that continent doing? And what about my friends in this country or that one? And how was that former student doing? And what about the friends I made during my organization’s training? That friend from high school, where was she now? What about the person I met while on a cross-cultural trip? So. Many. People. So. Much. Noise.

I knew that reducing the social media noise in my life would mean more than simply limiting the time I spent on it. I needed to remove Facebook from my life. Off and on over the years I deactivated my Facebook account to give myself some quiet. And once I permanently deactivated it, I found my stress level was lower, my sense of obligation to know everything about everyone went away, and I was able to focus on what was happening in my life in the present moment. Most days I feel as though I can barely build new friendships and keep up with the close friendships I already have. So removing one of the ways I stayed up to date with people relieved much of the “friendship pressure” in my life.

Before I decided to deactivate my Facebook account, I thought through a few questions first. Am I someone these friends would normally talk with regularly via social media? Do I have another way to contact certain people to catch up on life? Is being on Facebook necessary for ministry or other reasons right now? Based on the answers to these questions, I felt complete peace about removing one form of social media noise from my life.

Do I sometimes wonder what’s going on in the lives of people I no longer “see” on Facebook? Yes. But am I someone who knows them well enough that I should know everything about their life? Most often the answer is “No.”

I found that Instagram is actually a better fit for me because there’s far less noise on it. Pictures are easier for me to process than endless pages of updates and article links. But I still find it good to unfollow people when I feel overwhelmed by all that I’m seeing. This isn’t because I don’t care about those people; it’s simply what I need to do in order to keep my focus where it needs to be—my relationship with the Father, my marriage, my job, my family, my friends.

If the noise is overwhelming you or if you’re struggling to live in the here and now because of social media, I encourage you to take a step back, take a short break from it, and think through why you use social media. Perhaps you just need a quick, one week reset. Or maybe you are craving a longer break from the noise and pressure social media can bring. And if social media brings you joy and enables you to connect regularly with close friends while you’re overseas, enjoy it. Use it to its fullest potential!

Have you ever taken a break from one or all forms of social media? If so, how did the time away help you reset emotionally and spiritually?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

8 Comments

  1. Kate May 6, 2019

    I feel the exact same way about Instagram as you do with Facebook… I never seem to learn much from instagram about people or hit on any real conversations. It all feels too public, too curated and dependent on your camera skills. I have banned myself from watching video’s on Facebook though, anything live-streamed gets ignored or saved for the occasional extra ‘switch off time’. I must admit I cried when some of the people I love chose to leave facebook, I realized that they were effectively closing the door to connecting with me.

    1. Laura May 8, 2019

      Kate, thanks for pointing out how different platforms work better for different people! I really appreciate how you mentioned that people leaving Facebook made it feel like you could no longer connect with them. I think it’s important to be mindful of that when choosing to leave a social media platform and to think through how else you can communicate with people you care about, and then let them know you are leaving the platform. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  2. Monica F May 6, 2019

    I have never joined Facebook, which seems to be a shock to most people. For years we lived in a country where Facebook was inaccessible, and then when we moved back to the States, I just never took the time to get an account. I’m happy for that, because I pretty much stay connected with people through text, phone, email and Instagram- it works for me:) . I agree with your questions in regards to removing social media. Different media is good for different seasons in life as well. Thanks!

    1. Laura May 8, 2019

      Monica, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I love the reason behind why you never joined…I feel like we all have things like that…things we didn’t/couldn’t do in another country at one point in our lives, so we never felt the need to join/buy/participate when we could. 🙂

  3. Michele May 7, 2019

    It seems we think a lot alike or maybe our personalities are similar, Laura! I went through a very similar journey and left Facebook for good in October 2016. I never deactivated my account because I use Messenger so much for texting and chatting with family so I don’t want to lose all my contacts. But I don’t go on Facebook itself at all, for the same reasons as yours really. I have heard John Eldredge say that our souls were never meant to take in as much information as they do in this age- It’s not necessary or even healthy to know what my high school friend had for dinner or the prayer requests of the neighbor of the aunt of an old friend. Nor even every single tragedy in every country… It’s just too much, and then you add the plethora of opinions and debate- ugh!
    What I really need to know someone is always sure to tell me and friends who really want to stay in touch message or even email (so old-fashioned)! I find Instagram easier to control and less addicting /time-consuming also. The longer I’m off Facebook the less I miss it, but I love how you also validate the decision to stay on for those who can use it well without being overwhelmed!

    1. Laura May 8, 2019

      Michele, thanks so much for sharing! Yes, we do sound a lot a like. 😉 I agree that absorbing too much information is overwhelming; I find this happens to me when I check the news online too often during the day…leads to additional stress that I don’t need!

  4. JOY May 12, 2019

    I solved my “too much time spent scrolling” problem by creating a ‘People I want to see’ Friends List. It takes me about five minutes to scroll through. Very occasionally I go out to the News Feed for a look through it. Given that Facebook doesn’t show me all the posts – even from my family, I don’t feel that I am missing much more than I would have anyway. I am happy to have found a way to control the amount of time I give to Facebook that works for me.

    1. Laura May 13, 2019

      Joy, thanks for sharing how you solved the scrolling problem! I think that’s such a great solution to the time suck that social media can be, while still staying in touch and updated with people far away.

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