In October I wrote a post titled The Noise of Social Media and the Silence of God. I had reached my limit. I needed off and out of social media. I needed to hear the silence in my head again so I could hear the whispers of God. I desperately needed the break and hesitantly rejoined the world again a few weeks later when God directed me back.
In 2015 I wrote a blog series titled Unseen – Because we were made for more than a like, which I had planned to be a book. You can read all posts here:
At Thanksgiving I felt more stressed than I should feel. My heart seemed to race all the time. I was snappy and irritable. My thoughts felt fuzzy, unclear. My head seemed cluttered. I found myself losing my train of thought repeatedly. Internally, I felt this rushing, frantic pace. A race with no end. Constantly remembering what I’d forgotten to do.
At the same time, my phone was in my hands at all times. It was the first thing I reached for in the morning. It was the last thing I looked at before going to bed. It received my first thoughts and my last. During the day something was pulling at me from inside, drawing me into my phone. A wondering of what was happening in the world. Who was saying what now. Who was spreading or believing which lies now.
Everything my kids did, my first thought went to sharing it with the world on social media. It was so cute, so funny, so…..anything. Everything the Lord showed me I felt compelled to share through social media. Never taking a moment to ponder my intents, motives, or the need for privacy or protection of my family. Simply habits I’d been establishing. Sharing my life with the world. Reading every detail of the lives of too many people. Absorbing too much information for one soul to possibly bear with joy.
My phone went everywhere I went. If I needed to go the bathroom, my phone went with me. So in every 30 second slot of my day, my phone was by my side. I found myself looking for escapes from my day. Social media happily awaits any soul awaiting an escape from the reality and stress of life. It offers a replacement of a true refuge. A fleeing into God became nonexistent. When life became stressful, rather than hitting my knees, I hit the phone. When I didn’t want to deal with life, I picked up my phone. If I had a pocket of unfilled time, I scrolled. I skimmed. I absorbed. And I fed my soul without realizing it. I fed my soul dangerous food. And a little bit at a time, the poison began to work.
My sister shared she was giving up social media for Advent. I had planned to fast in another way. One morning I sat for my quiet time with the Lord. A time that has been so sacred to me and realized I’d picked up and checked my phone so many times that before I realized it, my hour was gone and I’d heard not a word from the Lord. I couldn’t tell you what I read. Nothing good soaked into my heart for the day.
I had an idol. My idol needed to go. I thought back to my sister and decided I would follow her lead. This time I didn’t announce a break. I simply disappeared. I didn’t post an announcement. I didn’t worry what other people thought. “Did they wonder why I stopped liking their posts?” “Did they think something’s wrong?” I let all those thoughts fall aside.
The first week I experienced withdrawals. Almost a depression of sorts. A sense of isolation, loneliness. Disconnected and excluded. The second week I turned a corner. I no longer reached for my phone. In fact, I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time. If we arrived home, my phone stayed in my purse. I had no need for it anymore.
I began to tuck back into my privacy. Grateful that the world didn’t see inside my life so frequently (though I was the one inviting the world in). I began to cherish in my heart what I saw in my kids rather than sharing it with the world.
I’ve been off social media for almost 3 weeks now, and I feel like a brand new person. I feel free. Truly free. I feel like I have my life back. My phone no longer owns me. My head is clear and crisp. The physical racing heart has slowed. And I’m not exaggerating. My heart raced through the day. I’m more mentally present in life now. My thoughts are not distracted and split between the ones I’m with and this false-connection to the outside world.
I miss the posts of a handful of friends. But what I’ve gained surpasses what I’m missing out on. These people here. They are here today, gone tomorrow. I’ve realized that I’m with my kids more now than ever before, but until this social media fast, I’ve been less emotionally with them than ever before. Enter the tension that shouldn’t exist. My soul is being torn, twisted and pulled in so many directions.
When I wake up, my hands don’t reach for the phone. My eyes open and my thoughts go to the Lord. To greet Him with a good morning. To allow Him to fill my heart and head before I hear from anyone else. I allow Him to settle my spirit before the world tries to shake up my peace. And it does. The world shakes me. Circumstances grind me. But now. I run to Him. Because there is nowhere else to hide or escape to. There is no social media outlet to numb me. No place for me to vent or seek fulfillment. No fishing for likes and affirmations. No. Now it’s just Him. He is all I need. He is all I want. He is filling my soul from the information overload of the last year.
I don’t know if and when I’ll reengage. For now I’m enjoying this new freedom. I’ll write on my blog like the old days. When it was pretty much just a blog. I’ll post the link on Facebook. But I won’t be reading newsfeeds. I’ve deleted everything from my phone. I’ll check messenger periodically. I’ll check notifications periodically to see if I need to respond to anything. Outside of that, I’ll continue to anticipate the celebration of our Savior’s birth. I’ll tuck into the quiet here and treasure up these fleeting days.