5 Things to Avoid in Social Media
To the woman discouraged by social media,
A few months back I took a short but sufficient break from social media. It all began one morning, I woke up and scrolled through my various social media platforms, and suddenly I was covered by a cloud of melancholy. That feeling stayed with me the remainder of the day.
I quickly became dissatisfied with the life that had brought me satisfaction and joy. The face-to-face relationships I had cultivated suddenly felt insignificant and aloof. The more I examined my gloominess, the more I realized that social media had instigated and perpetuated those feelings.
It was then that I decided I needed to detox from social media.
And I wanted to do something drastic, so I didn't just deactivate my social media platforms, I completely deleted them, all of them - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The melancholy was almost instantaneously gone.
There have been many recent studies explaining some of the adverse effects of social media, such as disrupted sleep, anxiety, negative body-image, and cyber bullying.
I want to make it clear that I am not saying social media as a whole is "harmful." There are many positive benefits to social media, and I am again on many social media platforms. However, I know that my negative experience with social media isn't exclusive. With that being said, I want to share with you five red flags to avoid in social media. In the upcoming articles of this post series, we will discuss biblical encouragement for a more joyful and fulfilled life which will help you engage in a more positive social media experience.
Red Flag: You've Become Discontented with Your Life
Perhaps you were completely content with your car; then you saw someone else's new car on Facebook, and you were no longer satisfied with yours. Maybe this has happened with your job, spouse, vacation, house, etc. This is where my struggle began, what I was once content with, I began to grow discontented with as I saw what others had. Maybe you too have become discontented with some aspect(s) of your life.
#FirstWorldProblems. Craig Groeschel says in #struggles "Never before have so many people had so much and felt so dissatisfied" (2015). Is this your experience? Think about all you have, friends, family, food, clothes, shelter, technology, etc. Do you have a head knowledge of your blessings, but still fill discontented when you see what others have on social media?
"I use social media so I can feel resentment for what others have and wish I could have more." ~ Said no one ever.
Red Flag: You Begin Comparing Yourself to Others
"During this time social media made me feel worse, as I would constantly compare myself to other people and make myself feel bad" (BBC 2017).
Contentment is closely tied to comparison. I have shared this quote once, but it is so full of sincerity I want to share it again,
"Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Why is this? Life.Church outlines a few reasons. For one, "where comparison begins, contentment ends" (2017). As already stated, it is easy to fall into the trap of discontentment when we have 24/7 access to see into other people's lives.
Additionally, "comparing makes you feel either superior or inferior. Neither honors God" (2017). No one wins when you compare, either you end up feeling less than and envious, or you feel better than and prideful. In fact, the Bible states,
"But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." ~ James 3:14-16
That is serious stuff, "bitter envy and selfish ambition" are called not just earthly, but also unspiritual, demonic, disordered, and evil.
You can be sure that if you find yourself constantly comparing, you may need to detach from social media for a bit.
Red Flag: You Neglect "Face-to-Face" Relationships for Online Relationships
I have absolutely met many amazing people online through social media, and I am sure you have too. I am also certain you, like me, have way more online "friends" than those you actually do life with. It is wonderful that through social media we can connect and interact with literally hundreds of people we may not have otherwise. Yet, are you neglecting the friendships with those you do real life with for those friendships online?
Maybe you have hundreds of "friends" and "followers" but still feel lonely and as though you have no one to talk to. Craig Groeschel puts it this way,
"We have lots of online interactivity, but that doesn't mean we have any personal intimacy" (2015).
Are you hoping for "likes" but craving authentic relationships to satisfy your social needs?
Are you spending less and less time interacting with others face-to-face? If so, maybe you need to spend some time away from the screen.
Red Flag: Social Media Interferes with Your Daily Life Such as Rest, Family, Friends, Job, Hobbies, Etc.
My husband also took a social media detox a couple of years ago. I asked him why while writing this post and he said it was because social media had become too distracting and he wanted to focus on other more important things. This issue is real for many people; maybe you are dealing with this as well.
Did you know that almost 60% of people do not go over an hour without checking their phone (Lookout 2012)? That 54% check their phones while in bed? 30% say they check their phones while eating a meal with others. Also, 24% check phones while driving. 9% even check their phones during a religious service (2012).
So, do you find yourself completely tethered to your mobile device? Invariably, monitoring your social media when your mind should be focused on something else or trying to rest? Do you think time away from social media can help you stay focused on other areas of your life and to experience rest?
Red Flag: You Find Yourself Obsessed with Curating a Picture Perfect Representation of Yourself and Your Life
Along with social media comes the ability to show others only what aspects of our life we want to show them. We can filter and edit everything, our words, our image. But with this comes some unintended consequences.
"The more filtered our lives become - the more we show others only the 'me' we want them to see - the more difficulty we have being authentic" (Groeschel 2015).
I believe this goes hand and hand with our unfulfilled social needs.
How can we build intimate relationships when we do not show our true self to others because we have become so used to filtering our lives?
It may be an indicator that you need to detox from social media when you become obsessed and worried about filtering your life and your image, trying to show that you have the perfect relationship, job, friendships, children, home, vacations, selfie, etc.
Again, there are numerous benefits to technology and social media, but just like the book The Circle shows, there can be some adverse effects.
"Like money, social media is a great servant but a terrible master.” Carey Nieuwhof
When you begin to feel as though you are a slave to social media, or that it is negatively affecting your relationship with God and those you care about, it may be time for a break. That is my hope for this article, to help you notice some of the red flags.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:12
Yours Truly, LeNae
P.S. If you are struggling with social media and know you need to detox but are not sure how, subscribe to the Yours Truly, LeNae newsletter and download the free Social Media Detox Challenge. Leave a comment below; I'd love to hear from you.
Also, if you feel that God is calling you to take social media fast, I encourage you to learn more about fasting with these resources;
BBC. 2017. Instagram 'worst for young mental health'. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39955295. May 19.
Groeschel, Craig. 2015. #struggles. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
Life.Church 2017. Overcoming the Curse of Comparing. https://www.life.church/watch/overcomer/overcoming-the-curse-of-comparing/. Accessed June, 5.
Lookout. 2012. Mobile Mindset Study. https://www.lookout.com/static/ee_images/lookout-mobile-mindset-2012.pdf. June.
Image credits ~ Color U Bold