Social Media Detox- The 1st Month
Our last all-staff meeting had one looming bullet on the agenda- the “Social Media Experiment”. Brady and Joey
introduced an opportunity to the individuals of our staff to take a break from a habit in our lives as engrained as brushing our teeth. The challenge was met with clenched jaws, crossed arms, and audible sighs. A social media-free summer? Is that even possible? An image was created the very same afternoon, replacing the profile pictures of many of your Harris Creek staffers. Though my profile remains a picture of my kids in a field of bluebonnets, I am actively participating in this experiment and break from the noise of social media for two months.
I felt a little unfairly primed for this experiment. A few weeks before our meeting, I hastily deleted the Facebook app from my phone in order to free up space to take a few pictures. The allotted memory is never quite enough for this snap-happy mama. I started to notice how refreshing it felt NOT having the little blue icon literally at my fingertips at all times. I chose to leave the Facebook app off my phone and felt surprisingly lighter. Activity-packed last days of school came along and I found myself enjoying the experiences of wrapping up preschool for my youngest and year-end festivities for my oldest without pondering what was “post-worthy”, or trying to determine how to frame the experience through a perfectly-worded caption. This experiment begs the decade-old question- if our ten year wedding anniversary passes without posting about it, will it even happen?
I would have been first to shift in my seat with frustration at the mere suggestion of a break from my beloved Instagram had it not been for the previous, accidental experience. Instead, I jumped at the excuse to enjoy my summer from a state of be-ing, removing the temptation to judge a moment’s worth based on its relation to the images shared by others or by the number of likes received. The experience has felt a lot like tossing the clutter we sift through when preparing for our latest garage sale. This time, instead of tossing that handbag I just had to have in 2003, I’m weeding out aspects of my egotism, pride, and the need for control in how my experiences are shared.
Pride magnifies my self-importance– not in the sense that it is not important for me to show up where I have promised or am actually needed; but in the lie that my voice outweighs the voice of others. Egotism weighs the worthiness of a moment based on the likes I receive on Facebook or Instagram. Arrogance can trick me into thinking people will not experience life as fully if they do not see the world through my lens. Pride misleads me to believe I am entitled to the life I live and the objects I desire. My anxiety producing pride, egotism, and need for control are the most tainted parts of my heart. These defects are often highlighted when too much time is spent on my Facebook newsfeed. I am prone to make unfair and joy-stealing comparisons, allowing bitterness to take up room where compassion and gratitude could otherwise reside. The late Simone Weil paints this picture beautifully:
“Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it”.
The beauty of surrendering after coming face to face with our defects is getting to be pieced back together by the one who created us. The great paradox is that we may not be able to receive how truly loved and important we are as image-bearers of God until we recognize our weakness when left to our own devices. Richard Rohr always says it best:
“Surrender is about a peaceful inner opening that keeps the conduit of living water flowing. It is a quiet willingness to trust that you really are a beloved son or a beloved daughter … It really is that simple, which for the human ego is very hard”.
Taking the opportunity to empty myself of this all-consuming habit for the past month has allowed grace and space for be-ing. Our culture tends to celebrate excess over emptiness- full stomachs; never-ending stuff; over-information thanks to our beloved Wikipedia and social media outlets. I am complicit in all of these examples of excess, but have grown to enjoy opportunities to empty and simplify immensely.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (along with the other outlets I’m too old to know about) can be helpful tools to connect with people I love all over the world and I look forward to the opportunity to practice this focus when I log back on in August. I will work to celebrate the tool for connectivity and fight against the egocentrism of unfair comparison. I want to hold on to being over performing, connecting over comparing, and practice leaving space for grace and gratitude. The space over the past month has been a gift. My dad recently gave me a book by our mutual hero, Madeline L’Engle. Three pages into Walking on Water, I found my mantra for the summer:
If there is any pang of recognition, I would encourage you to check out these two articles contributing to Joey and Brady’s personal decision to forego social media this summer:
- Is Too Much Internet Making Us Sick?
- The best detox for your wellbeing might have nothing to do with food
As much as I miss seeing what people are eating on their fabulous trips and knowing when babies are born in real-time (seriously! No sarcasm in this statement), I am thankful for another month to listen and practice unfiltered presence. I hope to return less enslaved to my newsfeed as a voice and face among many, able to filter through the noise to experience true opportunities for connection.