By Jackie Moore
Would you survive without social media?
Should you attempt this unique form of survival?
Maybe. Maybe not.
If I close my eyes and angle my head just right, I can picture my white Arkansas kitchen counter perfectly. I can feel myself leaning on the counter using my left hand to prop up my head and my right hand to mindlessly scroll through Instagram – which might be why I have self-diagnosed, right-thumb arthritis.
It was only Tuesday. Yet, I had already endured a week’s worth of parent meetings, disciplinary reports, and coaching difficulties topped with mustering up every bit of my intimidating 5 foot 2 frame to break up a fight in the high school cafeteria.
I was tired. No. I was exhausted. I just wanted a break. I desperately needed rest. I deserved a little mind-numbing activity. I was entitled to letting ‘click-bait’ articles get me a little too fired up. I had earned the right to compare the behind the scenes details of my life to the highlight reels of my friends from high school and college. And reading about celebrities and influencers whose “reality” had quite literally no constructive impact on my life was absolutely merited. I was exhausted. I desperately needed rest.
As I leaned against the counter, making my imaginary thumb arthritis worse, I thought, “I should spend some intentional time with Jesus.” Then I kept scrolling. Because my next thought was, “Nah. I’m too tired for that.”
Oh dear. Embarrassing, right? Insert all the blush face emojis that exist.
Do you know what the Holy Spirit did next? He reminded me that in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said HE would give rest to the weary. After reading that passage, this question came to mind: “Will scrolling be more restful for me than spending time with Jesus?”
Well, when You put it that way You’ve really backed me into a corner here, huh?
I would post something, unknowingly desperate, for others’ approval because some event had surfaced an insecurity.
That was the night I was exposed to just how toxic my scrolling habit had become, and I began the long, painful journey of getting to the root of my social media dilemma. I became aware of how quickly I would snatch my phone and scroll when I wanted to numb myself to an unpleasant reality. I began to realize how often I would post something, unknowingly desperate, for others’ approval because some event had surfaced an insecurity. And I don’t even want to know how many hours, nay days, I had lost in the social media dimension.
So, I decided to get serious about making a change. How else would I be able to roll my eyes at the generation after me for their ridiculous habits if I didn’t change my habits?
First, I attempted a social media fast. If you have ever done one yourself, then you know how difficult the first one to two days are and how freeing the rest of the fast is. I am a huge advocate for taking both scheduled and spontaneous social media breaks. However, once my fasts were over, it didn’t take long for me to get back into the vicious, arthritis-inducing cycle.
Then, I set time limits. Did you know that you can set time limits for certain apps on your phone? Decide how many minutes you’ll allow yourself on social media apps before you want to be notified that you’ve reached your limit. Easy.
Did you also know there is no limit to how many times you can click “Ignore App Time Limit?”
Needless to say, my personal boundaries and rules weren’t getting the job done.
In a moment of extreme discouragement, about a year after the kitchen counter epiphany, I thought, “Well, I guess I just need to delete all my social media.” For some people, acting upon this thought is right and good and from the Lord. But for me, and perhaps for you, this was the place of defeat I needed to be at to hear from the Holy Spirit again on this topic.
As soon as the thought was formed, I was reminded of Jesus’s words in John 10:10 about how He came to bring life. Yet again, the Spirit used Scripture to impress upon my mind this realization: At that moment, I was allowing social media to suck the life out of me; perhaps God wants me to use social media to give life. Which, if you think about it, actually makes total sense that the Lord would want us to use social media in a way that reflects the glory and life-giving qualities of Christ.
Does this mean every post or comment ends with an altar call?
Does this mean I try to invite Jesus into every part of my social media usage?
Perhaps God wants me to use social media to give life.
You may still feel like deleting all social media is right for you. That really is great. The Lord convicts and calls on an individual basis. But, if you don’t feel compelled to delete social media, here are three guidelines for your future scrolling endeavors.
1. Be prayerful
What if we took “pray without ceasing” seriously? What if we asked the Lord to teach and empower us to actually pray all throughout our day? Pray before opening your app of choice. Literally ask the Lord to help you use your time on social media well, in a constructive manner. Ask the Spirit to show you in the moment when your usage is unhealthy.
2. Be thoughtful
Know what your goal is before getting on an app. Are you wanting to get caught up on the news for today? Decide to stop yourself after reading 3 articles. Are you wanting to go look at someone’s profile to gossip about them the next day? Decide to stop yourself completely.
3. Be intentional
As you pray and scroll, ask the Lord to show you who you can encourage, who you can connect with or who you can learn from. Don’t open the app with a consumeristic and comparative mindset but allow the Lord to use you on that platform to cultivate life.
 All you iphone users have to do is go to settings, click screen time, choose app limits, and then be realistic.