We’ve all read the books and articles that tell us how it’s crucial to take at least an hour to ease into the day before checking social media. I’m not claiming to be uninformed about that. Yet most days, I’m plugged in before my feet hit the floor. Recently, I’ve been asking myself why I don’t listen to that advice. What I discovered is that I can’t.
I’m using the word can’t loosely here. Of course I can, but I can’t in the same way I can’t give up Friday night froyo or falling asleep with the TV on at night. Social media has become a piece of me, a part of who I am. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m scrolling Instagram. Before I get my bearings, I’m checking into Facebook.
This isn’t anything new; in fact, I’ve been aware of this for some time, but I’ve been battling the idea of doing anything about it, because honestly it just seems hard. Most times, it seems like such an unimportant problem, like no big deal. It’s a part of our culture, and most everyone is living the exact same way. As if that’s not enough of an excuse, my job is to be on social media. My work address is Facebook and my desk is buried in the pages of Instagram. No one’s asking me for an excuse as to why I’m always, always plugged in, but if they were, I’d have more than one.
But recently, that excuse hasn’t been working for me anymore. As I’ve become more conscious of this problem, I’ve also been looking more closely at why it’s starting to feel like a problem. First, let me be clear when I say that I love social media, and I think it’s a huge blessing. This isn’t an anti-social media post by any means, and I don’t believe that the heart of social media itself is a problem at all. For me, where my problem lies is the space it’s filling in my life.
Over the last few weeks, life has been really busy. I know, I know – you have the same record playing in your house too. We’re all busy. But we’ve been overly busy, busier than our normal busy. We’re selling our home and moving to Texas at the end of the summer, so there’s been a lot of duties that have taken the place of my normal activities. Fifteen days ago, I started a new devotional called Draw The Circle. It’s a forty day prayer challenge based on the book The Circle Maker. Guess what day I’m on? Eight. Day eight. That means that over the last fifteen days, I’ve shown up for God about 50% of the time. Guess how many days I’ve shown up to social media? Fifteen.
I don’t believe in a God who keeps score, I don’t. And this isn’t meant to be a critical Christian post where I condemn you for not giving enough of yourself to God. I hate those kind of judgmental calls to action; but not as much as I hate this feeling of conviction. God doesn’t have to keep score – we both know where I’ve been showing up and where I haven’t. I can feel the difference in my mindset, in my attitude, and in my heart.
It’s easy to tell myself that I don’t have time, that I’m just busy – that’s all true. But I lose that battle when I look down and find myself scrolling. God’s Word is just as mobile as anything else; with Bible apps, devotionals on Kindle, and verse of the day notifications. But that’s not what my phone is used for.
It’s not just devotionals that get buried in the “busy excuse”. Do you know how many days my house goes uncleaned, my pups go un-walked, and my parents go un-called? A lot more than my Instagram goes unchecked. I work as a health and fitness coach, and I have conversation after conversation with women who so badly want to change their health, but are just too busy. Recently, I’ve found myself asking if they took the time they spent scrolling social media, could they get a 30 minute workout in? Could they prep their meals? I’m not judging, because I know that my job is what saves me in that department. If it wasn’t a part of what I do, I imagine that getting pushed to the back, right next to God, my family, and my dirty house.
So, why don’t I stop? Why do I find myself constantly scrolling? Why is social media the background to my life? I want to play the clueless card right about now, but we’ve made it this far, so why start lying to myself at this point? The truth is that I know what I’m looking for isn’t there. And maybe that’s a safety net. Have you ever been looking for something that you’re not sure you really want to find? So you check the least likely places first, and you avoid looking for it in the place it actually might be, because if you find it, you know you’ll have to deal with it. Or if you don’t find it, you’ll know you’ve exhausted all of your options and you have a bigger problem on your hands. Most times, social media is a distraction.
Recently, a friend texted me who I haven’t talked to in awhile. Her daughter has been sick and they’ve had a lot of difficult things going on. In her text, she said, “We have so much we still have to deal with, so I won’t be on social media, but let me know if you have any news about your move or your house!” One of my very first thoughts was, “what does that have to do with social media?” But I’m starting to see. When we have things we need to deal with, we can choose to accept the easy distraction that’s at all of our fingertips, or we can plug into the only real One who cares for us and wants to help us through it. And maybe the best thing that the enemy has going for him; the not-so-evident distractions that we all choose every single day.
The question that I don’t know the answer to is, a distraction from what? Life is good, so what am I hiding from? God is good, so why am I avoiding Him instead of praising Him? I think it’s an answer that only He can tell me, and I’ll only find it if I spend more time in His presence, which means less time scrolling. Ahhh, the cycle of wanting a change but not knowing how to accomplish that change; my favorite. What I do know is that it starts with being intentional. Intentional with my time on social media. Intentional with my priorities. Intentional with my heart.
As I was thinking over this, a verse came to mind that felt really, really relevant. Don’t you love when that happens, when a verse pops into your head that you can recount almost word for word, even if you didn’t know it that well before? That’s one of those times that I always feel like God is speaking directly to me. Luke 16:13 says “You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one master and love the other. Or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other.”
I’m not considering giving up social media; I love what I do and I absolutely believe it’s a God-given platform to be a light in the world. And I really do think social media can be a great thing; in the years that the Bible was written, people would wait months for a single line of communication from one another, and good news messages had to be spread in person. Now, we have the ability to make friends all over the world, to share our lives with our loved ones, and to Praise Jesus publicly, glorying Him for so many to see.
Maybe I lied when I said this wasn’t going to be one of the call to action posts. Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe you’re reading this on your lunch break after you’ve done all the things that should have come first today, and if that’s the case, go on girl. What a badass you are for putting your top priorities first and using social media as a resource to grow, not distract. But if this causes you to look inward and re-evaluate your own behaviors, then consider it a call to take a deeper look at what you’re avoiding through social media, or trying to find in the endless scrolling, because I think we both know it’s not there.