“I bought a bicycle. Turns out it’s easier to ride the thing when you’re not trying to simultaneously check your Twitter.”
— Baratunde Thurston
I’ve been thinking about social media lately. A lot.
And I have decided that I desperately need to take a break. You see, I’ve been trying to use it to quench my thirst for a long time now. But it’s not working. It’s leaving me thirstier, more drained, and gasping for air.
We’ve all experienced it. You sit down with your phone and the intention of scrolling through Instagram once and then you’re 118 weeks deep on some fashion account and an hour has gone by. Every time this happens to me, by the time I swipe up to close an app or shut my laptop, I have the overwhelming feeling that I’ve gained absolutely nothing from the time I just spent.
Social media has become a stomping ground for my insecurities. It lets me do plenty of comparing and striving to be more like the girls and women whose accounts I pour over for inspiration. It lets me paint a picture of myself that is a glorified representation of who I am, me without my mess, more who I want to be.
And I miss the real life. I view things through the lens of what I can take a photo of or what clever caption I can create. Tonight I made kale chips and listened to The Beatles with my mom with our woodstove going. Hip right? What a nice element that would add to my aesthetic. But when in the world did my “aesthetic” become my first priority? And why am I detracting from the few precious weeks I have at home with my mom by spending it thinking about what I could be posting online? I spend time admiring photos of cute guys or laughing at their Tweets, observing them only from a distance, when I could be putting my phone down and asking them out for coffee and a real conversation. I spend time scrolling through the Timelines of old friends when I could be calling them to ask how they’re really doing.
The other biggie for me is the impact my social media use has on my relationship with God. If I’m totally candid with myself, I can admit that I’ve been trying to use it to fill a void I should be filling with him. What if instead of reaching for my phone to check Instagram every morning, I reached for my Bible and made my time with Him a priority? He’s reminded me over and over again that if I’m thirsty all I have to do is come to Him. But I can’t seem to learn and I run to my social media accounts to try and satisfy me first. And you know what? I keep coming up short. They will never, ever deliver like He can.
Just a caveat, I don’t want this to seem like one great big rant, holding social media as the root of all evil. It’s not. As a college student, I’ve seen first hand how wonderful it can be for keeping me connected to people at home. I’ve seen it promote positive messages, being used as a tool for loving others better. But what I’ve realized is that too often we look to it first. We don’t supplement pictures on Facebook with letters to our grandma at home. We hide behind it and use it as our only method for loving people. And right now, there are just too many negative implications of social media use for me personally. It’s too easy for me to get sucked in. So I am making a choice for myself.
I am ready to define myself based on what God thinks of me. To build my identity around His truths and not around my social media profiles. To be so content with my own real life that I don’t need a platform to build a glorified one. I am ready to shape stronger, deeper relationships with people, developed around vulnerability and face-to-face interaction. I am ready for real connection. I am ready to reclaim the time I’ve spent in front of a screen and use it for things of value. I want to read more books, to discover more new places, to exercise more, to learn how to cook new recipes. So to start of my new year, I am taking a break. January 2016 will be a month without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. And then I’ll go from there. I am not doing this because I think it’s trendy. I am doing this because I am thirsty for more than these things can offer.