Panic. Where is it? Did I leave it somewhere? I pat my pockets–not there. I check my purse–not there. Is it on the kitchen table? In the car? Oh no, I'm going to have to replace it and it's going to cost a fortune and time I don't have. As anger and despair creep in, I spot it. There it is, sticking out between the couch cushions. Relief. Life can now go on.
Does this sound familiar? The details of the situation might be a little different, but the panic and relief we feel after losing our cell phone and then finding it are very real. Our cell phones have become indispensable in our lives. It is the device we use to connect us to the world. We use it to text or even make that rare phone call when we talk to a live human. We use it to bank, email, buy our coffee, and read the news. But more often than not we use it to entertain ourselves and scroll social media.
Social media has become an addiction in many of our lives. When we have a brief moment of solitude or take a mental break from our jobs, the first thing we do is scroll. Gone are the days where we make eye contact with others or make a new acquaintance while at a coffee shop or store. Instead, our heads are bent over our phones–scrolling. We have replaced the joy of human interaction with the shiny, false narratives of social media. These online platforms are a place where we can put our best foot forward, receive validation for life choices, and respond in ways we never would think to in real life, be it good or bad. No matter how "real" we try to be, the backspace and edit buttons are ever present to enable us to craft our life in the best possible way.
Social media in and of itself is not bad. It can be used for so many good things, but sin perverts good things and makes them an idol and an addiction. When we are more concerned with the validation of social media than we are with Christ's affirmation, social media has become an idol. When we spend more time scrolling than in deep conversations with family and friends, social media has become an idol. When we almost have a panic attack because we lost our phone, technology has become an idol.
Healthy boundaries with technology and social media are possible. It takes some intentionality and commitment, but once you establish these habits, they will become second nature. You might also find that you are more joyful, loving, and fulfilled through genuine interactions with others. The steps below are helpful tools to begin this process of laying aside our need to feel connected twenty-four hours a day and spend more time focused on Christ. Time spent with Jesus is time best spent. Fear of missing out on social media will fade over time as you fill your heart and mind with Christ.
- Track your social media usage. Are you spending more time scrolling than you are in the Word or in undivided attention with your spouse, kids, church family, or friends?
- Have a specific place you put your phone in "jail" or "time out" to keep from reaching for it too much.
- Turn off social media notifications. This will enable you to leave your ringer on in case of an emergency call, but not constantly running to check your phone for unnecessary notifications.
- Have an accountability partner. Whether this is a spouse or a friend, ask them to keep you in check as you try to break this habit.
Ask yourself questions as you use social media like...
- Is my time on social media purposeful?
- What are my reasons for posting content?
- Is my social media activity glorifying God?
- Is my validation found in "likes" or in Christ?
Discern if social media is worth your time
- The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy–dwell on these things." This is such a helpful metric to judge social media time by. If it is not true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, or commendable it is not worth our time.
- Paul also says in Romans 12:1–2, "Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Scripture, not social media, is what renews our hearts and minds. Scripture provides discernment for all of life's decisions and the will of God. May our hearts overflow with the words of Christ and not the next influencer.