Truth be told, I just needed a break – a detox of social media, if you will. At least that’s how it all started a little over a month ago; yet here I am, still completely offline with no plans to walk back into the cyber community.
No, no. I don’t think I’ll “miss out.” And if I already keep up with everyone in my life, do I really care about my thousand+ Facebook “friends?”
Stay with me through the lengthy post below to find out why this millennial really doesn’t care anymore about the online world. Yep, I said it.
* If you use and love social media, that’s great. You should keep on keepin’ on and not take this the wrong way. There are so many positive things that have come out of social media use that I’ll definitely miss! I’m just here to share why I no longer am using a lot of those platforms.
Although it was years ago, the first moment that led me to unplug was when I was walking through a flea-market type area in Jamaica, camera in hand like the millennial I am, taking pictures of everything. You know, really “capturing the moment.” I snapped a shot of this older, local Jamaican man, and he flipped. He began yelling at me, flailing his arms, acting as if I’d greatly offended him. I was super embarrassed, and kept walking forward pretty confused. What did I do to you, dude?
Later I learned that their culture believes if their picture is taken, a piece of their soul is stolen. Just like that, gone forever. Hmm.
Leading moment number two was when I started a new morning devotional titled Authentic Living and started to challenge myself to live more authentically. The deeper I reflected on my own life, I started to recognize how little authenticity there was in my social media usage. For example, I suddenly became aware of the 30 minutes I would lay in bed each morning, aimlessly scrolling through very below-average content. We’ve all done it! The “in a trance, eyes glossed over, just scrolling” thing. For 30 minutes a day! That’s like, over 3 hours a week! What a waste.
Then I had my third leading moment. Sitting in the sauna, post-morning workout, I pulled out my phone to start another mindless scroll. I noticed an older woman in the corner just sitting there, content in her own thoughts and immediately felt embarrassed. There I was, your basic twenty-something, nose in her phone, ignorant to the humanbeing sitting right next to me IRL. How typical.
Sigh. I put my phone down and struck up a conversation. Not an earth-shattering conversation, but I do remember it more than I would have remembered the screens and pages I would have otherwise glazed over that morning.
“That’s it,” I told myself. I wasn’t going to check social media as often. I’ll limit myself; anything is okay in moderation, right? I pulled out my phone and moved the apps around on my screen so that my muscle memory couldn’t log me on as often. There, done. Easy.
Wrong. Hence, the final moment that led me to this blog post. Thanks to my challenged muscle memory, I became even more aware of how often I continued to log on. More importantly I noticed where the negativity associated with social media came from.
Not only was I constantly annoyed by people using social media as a tool for self-proclamation (especially when the facade created online and personality embodied in the flesh didn’t align), but even though I knew not everything was realistic, inside of me was also a whole lot of comparison. You know, the thief of joy. That thing. Let me spell it out for you:
Instead of being so thankful for the great job I had, living where The Lord planted me, enjoying all the beautiful things happening around me, I was comparing myself to others’ semblance of their “much more eventful and captivating” lives.
Partner that with the fact that I’ve never been a big “poster” (is that even a word for someone who posts a lot online?). It truly gets all under my skin when people (or even worse, when I do it) spend their life moments using their phone as a literal filter for what’s happening around them – only seeing precious instances through the screen they’ve placed in front of their own eyes. And in the worst cases, altering reality just to pose for something more “visually appealing.”
I’ve internally prided myself on not being that type of person (at least not as much as other people my age) but then of course, what would happening when I scrolled through my timeline, submerged in other people’s endless captured moments? I felt like suddenly mine never happened. Hadn’t even existed in the first place.
If I didn’t post a photo of my morning bible study, did I really even spend time with Jesus that day?
Since I didn’t post a photo of the pretty drink I ordered at that trendy restaurant downtown, do I even live Nashville?
Because I didn’t post a photo of date night with my fiancé, is our relationship not as great as others’?
And if those questions are as ridiculous as they sound, then why was it that when I logged online, I suddenly felt like nothing in my life was authentic because it hadn’t been uploaded? In reality, this was the furthest thing from the truth. The idea of “pics or it didn’t happen!” is actually just mental poison, because yes, ‘it’ did happen.
So what’s my point? My point first and foremost is that social media became a huge time waster in my book.
Since I’ve unplugged, I swear there are more hours in the day. I can’t tell you how much more I’ve read (in real books, my friends), how many more strangers I’ve befriended, how much more beneficial my workouts have become (without checking my phone in between each rep), how much more productively I’ve spent my free time, and how much more beauty I’ve noticed and appreciated all around me.
I even feel more connected to people after disconnecting from social media – woah, now… crazy talk!
More importantly, I feel more connected to our main man, Jesus.
And, drum roll, please, for the full circle blog post.
Since I’ve gone offline, I’m starting to maybe see a little truth from the Jamaican man’s panic attack. I know I didn’t actually steal his soul (with all due respect), but maybe the guy was onto something:
If you think about it, how much from our soul are we stealing when we capture a moment instead of just breathing it in? How much more could we learn and gain from life experiences if we focused less on capturing an insta-worthy picture and more on being in the moment? How many more soul-feeding laughs or genuine conversations could we have if we set our phones down for a minute and allowed ourselves to just be?
This is all just food for thought, blog readers – but if we focused less on the false sense of acceptance or validation because we got a ton of likes on a picture, and focused more on letting our life experiences shape, grow and strengthen who we are as individuals… would we not only get a ton of “likes” on who we are as a person (HA! but true, right?), but could it be that we just might feed our souls instead of steal from them?