The Social Media Experiment
I’m part of the experiment we call social media. You probably are, too. I’ve opened my fair share of social media accounts on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and more. They’ve tweaked algorithms, sold our private information, and pushed us ads for items that we’ve simply mentioned in everyday conversation. They’ve also allowed me to stay in touch with friends, family, and fans of my music. I’ve made new friends and even became a part of Christcentric through a contest in a social media group.
I’m no Scrooge, though. I’ve been a social media junkie for the better part of 15 years. On rare occasions, I have deactivated my accounts because I hate being hooked to a glowing light box. It doesn’t usually last long, though, because I have to be connected to the 3000+ “friends” I’ve added.
How else am I supposed to know what’s going on in my friend’s lives? Is there another way to know what’s going on in the world? If I don’t get on Facebook or Twitter, it’s nearly impossible to share my music and writing in our digital age. If I don’t achieve maximum tweetability, won’t I squander the opportunities God has given me?
Maybe. But maybe not.
Jesus Wasn’t Restless
Jesus is the most relevant man in all of history, but He wasn’t restless like me. His reach surpasses understanding. He was holier than me, wiser than me, and more powerful than me. Yet what do the Scriptures teach about Him? He did a lot while on earth—so much that all the books in the world couldn’t contain all that He did (John 21:25). Surely, then, He was preoccupied with the scope of his ministry and networking, wasn’t He?
It doesn’t seem that way. Jesus had His 3 very close disciples, a cohort of 12 apostles, 72 disciples that He sent out, and a broader group of 120 or so followers. Crowds thronged to many of the places Jesus went. Yet, we find something somewhat strange. Jesus Himself would “often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). You could find him in the mountains praying (Matthew 14:23).
Jesus took time to rest and be alone. He stole away to be with His Father. This is something to imitate. Instead of viewing “quiet time” as an individualistic, man made, and legalistic interruption in our schedules, maybe we should view it as a blessed time to experience God as Christ did.
I’m no mystic. I just know I need a break sometimes. You do, too.
A Timely Break
I stepped away from social media for the month of January. I wish I could say it was the magic bullet to solve all of life’s problems. It wasn’t. I still used my phone more than I wanted to. I didn’t feel satisfied with the time I spent in prayer. I didn’t write as many articles, study as much Scripture, or memorize as many verses as I wish.
But it was very beneficial.
I learned how easy it is to be more intentional with my family. I could put my phone down and not look like a mosquito drifting toward that enamoring blue light. I found that time to pray, study, and meditate that I would’ve sworn was in the abyss with Big Foot and the Loch Ness. It wasn’t lost at all, though. It was squandered away like the prodigal son’s precious inheritance.
The greatest benefit of being off social media is the clarity of mind that I have.There are days that I would literally scroll until I was dizzy and motion sick. I was taking in so much new information that I couldn’t stand to see another post, comment, article, or video. Not anymore. I haven’t been reading the slanted news articles or seen Babylon Bee posts passed off as truth. I’m no longer angry at people who disagree with me because I don’t know their opinions and they don’t know mine.
God said, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Prov. 29:11). It’s hard not to eat cookies if I’m staring at them on the counter. It’s even harder to hold back my spirit when I scroll past thousands of posts and comment wars.
Here’s another quote from God: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Prov. 18:2). I sure have acted like a fool on a good amount of days in the past 15 years. It’s impossible to process and understand something that I read two seconds ago if my immediate response is to express my opinion—or simply react with a click of a button and move on.
Dominated By Nothing
I don’t plan to quit social media forever.
I still plan to use it with intentionality to post articles like this one, check in on friends and family, and interact with readers and fans of my music. It’s always a joy for me to connect with my favorite artists and producers. I want to do the same with the people who support my music and ministry.
Even during my fast, I shared a couple of articles, checked in on some people after seeing some shocking and sad news in my community, and clicked a few tweets from Google regarding Kobe Bryant’s death. The difference, though, is that I used social media rather than letting it use me. It became a tool rather than a distraction. There was no scrolling or notification checking. I can count on one hand how many minutes I spent.
My aim is like Paul’s. In response to someone’s statement that “all things are lawful”, Paul said, “I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). That’s where I desire to be with social media. It is only by grace, not willfully abstaining, that I can fight being enslaved to anything in this world. To put it bluntly, I can fast from social media and still be in hell if I don’t believe the gospel.
When Jesus becomes more appealing than social media, He will have my heart. Fasting from social media has reminded me of this truth. The world is full of tantalizing morsels vying for time, attention, and affections. Only when God’s Word becomes a feast for my soul and my whole being is captivated by the Lord and His glory will I fully walk in the freedom granted through the gospel.
That day will come. Until the bridegroom returns, I will fast from various things at various times. It’s vital.
I await the day when I will be glorified with Christ. Until then, I will strive with all God’s energy to keep my eyes on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 1:29; 3:1-2). When I fail, Christ is my only hope. When I succeed, all the glory is His.
What about you? When’s the last time you took extended time away from your favorite sites to spend time with the Lord? Perhaps February or March would be a good time to take an intentional break. Leave a comment and let me know how you feel about social media and the importance of fasting from it!
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