Let's face it: why my relationship with social media is changing.
I felt parched, tired, and insecure leading into this season of Lent and the proof is on my closet walls.
Lent isn’t something I’m particularly tied to but I look forward to it every year. I think there is something really beautiful about carving a space out, leading up to Easter, to really remember and observe the cross. It feels really special and sacred. It makes me believe God can do big things and plant newer things in the stretch between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
So, like I said, I walked into the season tired. I turned my office closet into a prayer room and I began covering the walls in printer paper filled with prayers. Together, God and I began to wade through the muck of why I was so tired. Why I wasn’t feeling like myself any longer.
Have you ever done that before? Have you ever looked back a few years and thought, “Things were better then”? I wouldn’t go back. I love where I am. But I am also aware that we can go through times where we don’t feel like we are growing or moving forward. We can go through times where we feel stagnant and our first response is to scroll back on social media to days where we felt happier, less overwhelmed, more balanced.
I noticed there was one thing that was zapping the energy from me. It was making me tired. I am certain, knowing what I know now, that it was causing a lot of discontent in my heart:
I hesitate to type it because it sounds so trivial. Like, really? A social media app is causing you to feel drained? But I’ve clued into my dependency on it. I’ve clued into the fact that something switched in my spirit in the last few years. Without even realizing it, you can begin to seek out affirmation and worth on a screen and forget to ask God for it.
Of course I was tired… I was expecting people to give me worth. I knew they couldn’t. I’ve known since the beginning of these platforms that people couldn’t possibly fill the desire I have to be known and seen. I’ve preached people away from that posture. I’ve been a longtime advocate of not placing more value on social media than necessary. But then I found myself falling into the same rut and looking towards my phone for a soul feeding.
I noticed patterns I’ve developed without even wanting to develop them. I noticed when I felt lonely or tired or insecure, I would reach for my phone and begin to passively scroll. I say “passively” because I wasn’t engaging with any content. I was using the content to size myself up, to put myself into a symbolic ranking of where I belonged and how much worth I possessed based on other people. I was building a hierarchy and I was almost always at the bottom of the hierarchy because that’s what fear will tell you when you become a listener of it, “You’re no good. You don’t add up.”
I realize this is a grim picture to paint but I also know other people, maybe you, feel it too. I think we’ve been caught in this vicious cycle of talking about social media and believing in the damage it can cause us but not being active in a new approach. We complain about it but we indulge in it. We say we are going to quit it altogether but we still want the applause that comes from showing up on the platform.
But see me as I write this, I still believe in the power of social media. I am a lover of social media and I believe it is a game-changer tool. Because of it, I’ve met best friends and I’ve moved to new cities. I’ve connected over coffee with people and I’ve found solace in their words.
I love sharing pieces of my life. I love encouraging. I love that you can post something from the heart and it can be a healing balm to a girl in Minnesota who will never meet you or a man in Australia who is grappling with insecurity. I love it for the reason it began in the first place: a place for connection. Deeper, wider connection.
I just think some of us might need to readjust, to figure out how to manage the tools rather than let the tools manage us. I want to go back to a time where social media meant connection. I want to go back to basics.
TIME FOR A CHANGE
So I made some changes.
And I am still making some changes.
But let me tell you the early forecast, what I have been noticing after just a few weeks: putting “connection” at the forefront of why I am doing what I am doing is changing things. It’s bringing my joy back. It’s helping me better understand the wrong turns I took and how that led to exhaustion and insecurity. The exhaustion is falling away as the printer paper sprawls across the walls of my closet, as I partner with God to reorder my loves.
I pray these words will give you hope if you’re out there and you, too, are feeling low and drained. The story isn’t over yet. And you can still claim back what you feel is lost inside of you.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to write down the steps and progress in this place. I’m going to share with you what’s working and what is changing in my soul. I’ve already felt some of the redemptive effects of stepping back and creating better boundaries between me and Instagram.
I’ll finish with this: if you are feeling like the life has been knocked out of you, it might be time to look around and readjust. It might be time to cut some things out or build a better boundary. It might be time to have an honest conversation. It might be time to go to God with all the fears and the false idols you’re gripping onto instead of him.
Don’t believe for a second more the lie that you’re not worth it or that you cannot change. You can always change. As long as you’re breathing, there’s still time to change.
Let’s face it and not turn away.