Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4 things I learned by leaving social media for Lent

I’m not a normal subscriber to fasting for Lent. I’ve done it a few times, tossing out a token chocolate fast for good measure. This year, I decided to give up Facebook and Instagram for these 40 days. I had been feeling the strangle of social media for several months and decided there needed to be an untangling. A colon cleansing of sorts. 

I was thinking this through and trying to avoid it altogether when I was skyping with my best friend and she told me she was going to give up social media for Lent. I almost feigned a bad Skype connection so that I didn’t have to admit to her that I was thinking of doing the same thing. Now I had that blasted thing called accountability.

I learned a lot about my character and about owning my own junk these past 40 days. Blaming social media was replaced by naming my own misshaped desires and insufficient heart.





1. Social Media isn’t evil, but my heart can be.

    While social media can become a vacuum for productivity, sometimes we forget just where the problem lies. 
      
      With us.
     
      Squarely with us.
      
      If I am choosing to scrape through Facebook instead of making dinner, then I’m choosing indulgence over responsibility.

      Jeremiah 17 reminds us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately sick…

      A sick heart needs healing, not to my ignoring it by bandaging it with social media trivialities. But again, it’s not social media's fault. The apple wasn’t at fault in the garden. It was Eve’s deciding that God wasn’t enough that was her heart’s deception. I think there’s similar danger in our social media addictions. 

   2. Social media has exposed my desire to be known

One of the most vulnerable things I’ve learned was just how much I crave being known by people. I’ve struggled a lot with loneliness these last two years. Living overseas is isolating. But giving up social media made me realize that most of my loneliness was not a craving for community, but rather a craving for people to pay attention to me. I wanted someone to notice that I wasn’t at that birthday party and be sad because of it. This was especially apparent for the first week of the fast. I replaced my Facebook "quick looks," with email "quick looks."

It’s been good to separate loneliness from attention craving. I now understand that when I start to sense loneliness, I need to be sure it’s labeled correctly for my own heart’s sake.


3.   Social media reminds us of our need for community

I was grieved several times when I missed big events in my friends’ lives. I had several friends who would periodically send me emails to update me on things like: this person’s dad just had a heart attack; our adoption was denied; our adoption went through; I leave for South Sudan today. I missed getting to tell them I was praying for them or ask them how that doctor’s appointment went.

As long as it does not become an unhealthy dependency, our need for people is from the Lord. I Cor. 12 tells us that, “For in one Spirit we were ALL baptized into ONE body…” One functioning, synchronized body of Christ.

My natural disposition is to do it by myself.

My natural disposition is to get stressed out, overwhelmed, and void of joy.

I should not be surprised at the cause and effect.

I need community and I’m thankful to the Lord that we have social media that allows me to see that first birthday party of the friend’s daughter whom I’ve yet to hold. While social media can take us tempt us to avoid face to face interactions, it also allows to remain connected that is unprecedented in history.

4.   When we categorize social media as merely a time drain, we strip it’s ability for good.

We Americans like categories. Democrat/Republican; liberal/conservative; pro-life/pro-choice. When we slip social media into the “waste of time” file, we discount all the good things that can be done with it. Plenty of organizations are using it for advocacy and raising money for great causes. I’ve seen families decide to adopt because of a video they saw or article they read off Facebook. I’ve learned how to be better mom through blogs and articles found online. Redeeming social media is key-using it to move forward Christianly things in a progressive and gracious manner. God knew we’d have this push and pull with social media as we sit here in 2014. Let’s let it revolutionize the world instead of feeding our gluttonous hearts.



The pile of nastiness that can be dumped in and around our hearts can be overwhelming. But I know that tomorrow morning, new mercies are offered to me by the most generous of all Fathers. Thank you Jesus that I don’t have to muster up these heart changes on my own.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing these insights. I started reading this update the other day, but stopped as I realized I was burning dinner- ironic? I desperately wanted to finish because I only saw the second point about wanting to be known, and knew I could identify with that. I've noticed this year that I'm grasping at straws for my identity. I want to be seen by people, but I'm not naturally social. I want to be so confident in who I am in Christ, as a wife and mother, that I don't set myself up for disappointment. Thanks again for the reality check!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your thoughts are succinct and ring true. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your vulnerability and I love these points (especially #4). I have also been tossing around the idea of simply accepting that social media has shaped our interaction with others so much that we can't ignore it for the *potential* benefit it holds. Now if we can just get people to stop clogging our feeds with their Candy Crush scores... :)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...