By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Social media is meant to be a platform to connect and encourage family, friends, and other acquaintances. When Myspace burst onto this scene in the early 2000s, people were elated to share their profile status, play their favorite music, or just be able to express themselves to people who wanted to know more about them. It was a great way for people to feel seen and known and connect with old and new friends.
But over the years, what once was a way to post pictures of special events and post status updates about what's going on in life has become a place for cyber bullies to post anonymous comments at leisure and people competing with others rather than rejoicing over others’ accomplishments. It has also become a platform where people share their political views, and worse, if someone disagrees, they can unfollow them, unfriend them, block them, or worse, leave nasty, derogatory comments on their posts. Social media can be a great tool for connection and networking. But if you find yourself dreading scrolling through your feed each day or notice you spend more time scrolling than engaging with the people in front of you, it may be time to take a break.
Here are six reasons to take a break from social media:
1. It Brings Out the Worst in You
Social media was a great way to keep people connected, especially during the pandemic. However, studies now show mental health issues are at an all-time high. People are struggling with anxiety and depression like never before. Take a moment as you go through your feed and analyze your feelings as you scroll. Do you get a genuine sense of happiness? Fear? Jealousy? Anger? While social media has allowed us to know more about our friends and family than ever before, some of what we know are the most undesirable traits. If the thought has crossed your mind to unfriend people, especially those you love, it may be time to take a break.
2. It Takes Away from Valuable Relationships
Any technology, even if used correctly, can pose a distraction in our lives and cause us to miss out on important relationships. Watching too much TV or playing too many video games can have a similar effect as social media. Studies show people look at their phones hundreds of times a day. Taking a break does not necessarily mean getting off social media altogether or even fasting from it for a long period of time. Instead, if you are confident you have more firm control, consider setting strict boundaries and commit to not looking at social media after a certain time. Make a point to put away your phone at 7:00 or 8:00 PM to leave room for valuable face-to-face conversations. You may find setting this boundary enhances your relationships and allows you the deep intimacy and connection you're craving but aren't finding through looking at social media.
3. It Leads to Temptation
Social media is great for catching up on a long-lost friend’s relationship status, seeing pictures of your close friend's wedding, or seeing a video of your nephew celebrating his first birthday. But the ads that Facebook and Instagram are allowed to show in your feed can cause you to get into bad habits (and even commit sins) you wouldn’t normally commit if you weren't on the platform. For example, do you find you are going to websites searching for food, clothes, or other items because you saw them in your feed on Facebook? Is it now a casual habit to visit an ex-boyfriend's page though your profile shows you are happily married to someone else?
Furthermore, platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram have very loose rules regarding what people can post. Therefore, videos of women taking their tops off or people committing lewd acts can easily pop up in your feed if you're not careful. Even with setting strict control features on your phone, those videos can still pop up. If you find this is a problem for you, seek the help of an accountability partner or a leader in your church to whom you can confess to and let them know there is a problem. Fasting from social media for even a month can reset your brain from wanting to look at those photos. When you resume social media from your break, make sure the settings on your phone are set to private so that public ads and other sensitive material doesn't come across your feed.
4. It Distracts from Important Responsibilities
While it may be difficult to recognize a problem with excessive social media usage, one way to determine if it's a problem for you is if you find yourself putting off important chores or tasks to continue to scroll your feed. If you prioritize posting a selfie or taking a video of your dog to get the attention you crave, it's time to take a break. Get a blank sheet of paper and make a list of all the important tasks you have put off because of social media. Commit to turning off social media for one month, and in that month, seek to do as many of those chores as possible. At the end of the month, you may find you may not want to go on social media as often. Or even better, you may not want to go on it at all.
5. You Idolize the Attention
When you post about a particular accomplishment, you will receive a barrage of encouraging words, likes, and heart emojis. This is a good boost to your social page, self-esteem, and helpful to your overall self-concept. But when you are obsessively checking your phone to see who has liked your post or counting your likes and emojis, this can be a great detriment to your spiritual life, your view of yourself, and of others. You may even take it one step further and unfriend someone whom you feel has not been liking your posts enough. When gone unchecked, social media can destroy relationships because we look to it for encouragement and affirmation of ourselves rather than looking to God. Any avenue outside your Creator you seek to find encouragement and affirmation in your life is looking in the wrong place, and social media is no different. Instead of looking to social media for words of affirmation, look to the Word of God. There are sixty-six books full of examples of how the Almighty God loves us, solidifies our identity, and allows us freedom and new life through salvation. Double the time you spend in the Word, and you may find your social media usage goes down exponentially.
Social media, when used properly, can be a great way for you to express your personal preferences, establish connections with longtime friends, make new friends, and above all, proclaim the gospel message. Social media can be equally detrimental if we are not careful. Take a hard look at the paragraphs above and analyze your heart. Are you falling prey to the devil's schemes through any of the above? If so, limit your time, or you can take a social media fast. It can be for one day, one week, or one month. Commit to fixing your eyes upon Jesus during that time. Dive deep into the Word and communicate with God through prayer. When your established fast is over, the desire to get connected and receive affirmation from social media may all but disappear.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Urupong
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.