I know, you’re wondering, “how can a social media experiment even correlate to anything that is written in the Bible?” Well, that is about to be made clear. First, a little back story. I decided to take a month off from any social media. Twitter, Facebook, even the instant messenger programs that have been collecting dust on my desktop for the past several years. I really only ever used them to check e-mail, so those may be on their way out, however that would be a topic for… I digress.
The point of the social media experiment was to highlight an addiction. We are addicted to social media, almost to the point where we check our phones more than we check our children. What I found was much more. I had previously tried to curtail my Facebook-checking to once, maybe twice a day. I hardly ever made any posts, but I’d end up checking it far more than I expected. It was more like once or twice an hour. Add in an average time of 1 minute spent looking through news feeds. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When you total that up over the course of a year, grand total, best case, almost 100 hours spent checking Facebook. That’s over 4 days(!) out of the year that I could have been walking in the park, or reading a book, or working on some other project.
I found that social media stifles my inner dialogue. It acts like a giant tabloid, with all of the gossip, adult-content sharing, old news being reported as if it happened yesterday and my personal favorite, the ads that are tailored to your specific tastes (mine seem to show Omega watches, if you’re ever wondering what to get me for a birthday or Christmas one year. Just kidding.) What ensues is a media overload, where wholesome content is overlooked and temptation is brought to one’s attention.
I’ve seen articles on removing oneself from social media and how modern scholars are debating whether or not this represents a sign of psychopathic behavior. I’ve seen articles on how some prospective employers seem to think that removing oneself from social media seems to represent the idea that you have something to hide from them. I find the content of these articles to be unsubstantiated and would like to point out the writers of those fine articles that use of social media is a choice, not a mandate.
So what did I learn from this? Well, first and foremost, I learned that the world exists with or without social media, and it’s quite beautiful. I no longer feel the need to check my phone every 5 minutes to see if someone’s messaged me, or if I’ve been poked or re-tweeted. FOMO is no longer a word in my lexicon. I feel as though I’ve gained a deeper sense of appreciation for God’s creation, rather than man’s creation.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)