I love social media. I am not a curmudgeon who thinks that it has ruined human relationships. For the most part I have found that it has actually enhanced many of my relationships. It has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family around the globe. It has allowed me to interact with influencers and thinkers that I would never get any face to face time with ordinarily. It has allowed me to share the often mundane details of my every day life, but people have appreciated that for the most part and feel like they know Sue and I as a result. But, like so many good things in life, too much of it can have negative consequences, and that is the boat I find myself in. I have allowed myself to get infected with the rampant disease of the Millenial generation – FOMO. I have “fear of missing out”, and it sucks. It is a beast that needs to be fed to survive and so I am going to starve it to death. I am taking a social media and online news sabbatical for 30 days after which I will review and see how to go forward. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, News 24…nothing. My phone battery is going to think it has died and gone to heaven.
Here are six reasons that I am doing it, and maybe you should consider doing it too.
- I need to get first things back to first place in my life. I somehow fell into the really bad habit of checking social media first thing in the morning and last thing at night. So my phone was the first thing I saw, and the last thing I saw every day. There are two obvious problems with this, the first being that my gorgeous wife lying next to me really deserves better than that, and the second is that it meant that time with God somehow slipped down the priority list. If prayer and bible are first, then somehow the rest of the day falls in line with that. If Candy Crush invites and arguments about sport are first, then the rest of the day falls into line with that. I want the bible app on my phone to get much more use than the Facebook app. I want cuddles with Sue to take priority over Twitter.
- I want to actually live a good life rather than working hard on the appearance of a good life. Social media really can be a trick, as we work hard to put our highlights reel out to the world as our everyday life. It is liberating to know that I can go to gym without telling anyone about it. I can go on a date night with Sue without letting anyone know. I can watch a sports game without having to put out my “expert” opinion every two minutes for people to dissect. I am going to do that. I am going to enjoy some moments without reaching for my phone to talk about how I am enjoying the moment.
- I want to give my family and my friends the long overdue gift of presence. I really want Daniel to see more of my face than he does of the back of my iPhone. I want to focus on the friends that I am with when I am at a braai or dinner party, rather than focusing on the friends I have in cyberspace. Giving someone your full attention is a gift. I want to give that gift to the people I am with.
- Silence is sometimes a good thing and so I want to practice more of it. The scripture tells us that he who holds his tongue is wise. I am often the first guy to comment on things going around in popular culture, and that usually means that I am the first guy to be wrong. In my life so far I have found that the people I trust the most for wisdom tend to be the people who speak last on a situation. I reckon there is a lesson in that.
- I need to be less distracted in order to be more productive. I have social media and news apps and software running all the time. It is just a quick scroll on my laptop to get an overall view of everything going on, and so I figured it didn’t take much of my time, but it does. Just this morning, I have managed to get through so much more that I would usually do as my browser hasn’t opened and I could focus on the task at hand. My life is busy, and social media makes it busier and not easier.
- Self-denial is a good principle that should be practiced regularly. I said at the start of this blog that I enjoy social media and I do, but I reckon it is good to lay down some things we enjoy for seasons in our lives to reassess and refocus. This is kind of what fasting is about, and while social media isn’t a big sacrifice to make, it is habit forming for us to realize that we don’t have to have everything we want just when we want it.
There will still be BBC related content from my account (eg sermon links and blogs etc), but those will be posted by a member of my staff and not by me. If you follow me for BBC stuff, the best thing to do would be to follow @bryanstonbible on Twitter or like Bryanston Bible Church on Facebook. I will still be writing and blogging, but won’t be interacting on those posts.
Enjoy the next 30 days without me peeps. Don’t break the internet, and don’t let the internet break you.
Happy New Year. God bless.