I really like social media; I think it’s great. I love the jokes and the GIFS. I love the dialogue and the debate. And I love the digitally-developed and yet completely real friendships it makes possible. Social media even opened the door for me to meet a long-time hero and work with him on a couple writing projects. Social media is a very good thing.
But, like with most good things, it’s possible to overindulge on social media. Some honest self-reflection has made clear to me that I am guilty here. During 2017 I have tweeted an average of 25 times per day and, according to Tweetails.com, spent an average of 35 hours a month on Twitter alone! On most days, the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed is check Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes I even check my feeds and notifications during a middle-of-the-night potty run. TMI? Sorry. Just bein’ honest.
I’ve grown addicted to notifications. Who liked my post? Who retweeted me? What did my debate partner say this time? How am I going to respond? Even though I’ve disabled push notifications, I’m still constantly glancing at my phone, reacting and responding to posts and tweets even when I should be present and engaged elsewhere. The most damning conviction of my unhealthy attachment to my mobile device came when I saw my non-yet-two-year-old walking around multitasking with her toy phone in hand. Wonder where she learned that.
And then there’s the anger. The last two years have really been something else. The political, religious, and cultural climate has been supercharged and the polarization swift and extreme. It’s no secret to anyone who’s followed me for any length of time that I’ve had some pretty strong feelings about all that. While I believe much of my anger has been justified, some of my expressions of that anger were not. There have been times in which what I said was absolutely right, but the way in which I said it or my motivation for saying it has been wrong. At some point, we have to move beyond negative deconstruction and on to positive reconstruction. I want to be part of that positive process, but in order to do that, I need to take some time to regroup and refocus.
For all of these reasons and more I have decided to make some extensive cutbacks to my social media engagement. This was actually a difficult decision for me to make, not just because I enjoy social media, but because I enjoy YOU. I truly count many of my digital “friends” and “followers” as genuine friends. However, I both want and need to be more present with my (expanding!) family, local friends, congregation, and community. I also want to devote more time and energy to more in-depth reading, writing (hopefully more faithful blogging and maybe even a book??), and perhaps some other projects as well. Some people are disciplined enough to moderate their social media engagement; I am not, at least not yet. My hope is that an extended fast will allow me to return with more discipline, purpose, and grace. Following is my sabbatical plan.
Twitter: Hard commitment to stay away from January 1 – March 31 (with the exception of blog posts and new baby pictures), and a soft commitment to a full year away.
Facebook: Deleting the app from my phone and drastically limiting the amount I post and engage with others’ posts.
If any of you would like to stay connected during that time you can find me on Facebook Messenger, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me for a telephone number. Heck, I might even have time to write a snail-mail letter or two with an extra 35 hours a week!
I wish you all a very, very happy New Year and look forward to connecting with you in the future. Grace and peace!
I'm taking a social media break. It's not you; it's me. I think you're great. I'll still share blog posts and baby pics. We can stay in contact in other ways.