Last year I participated in a group Bible study with a group of ladies from my church. We were reading through 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and the topic arose—what should we do about social media? As the discussion elevated, one of my normally very intrinsic friends burst into tears upon the couch. “I can’t stop,” she replied. “It’s the first thing I turn to in the morning and my phone’s the first thing I reach for when there is a break in my day. It’s my go-to comfort item. I used to work to stay busy and not think, but now that I stay home with our child, it’s my out. And it’s consuming me. I can’t stop!”
This month I’ve been sharing about Social Media Smarts on Cornerstone Confessions, including tips and tricks for nearly every major player in the book, but one of the smartest things you can really do with social media is know when it’s time to take a break. Sure, social media can be fun. Sure, social media can be used to bring others to the Lord. Sure, social media can be used to connect with friends oh so far away. But just like so many other things in our lives, social media can also become an idol . . . an idol that takes over our lives much like it had my dear friend.
When we hear the word idol we often think of the Old Testament statues or Buddha-like figurines, but an idol can be anything that we regard with blind admiration or devotion. And just like a drug addict or alcoholic becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, we become addicted to the euphoria created by social media…how many responses we can get…how many likes we can get…how many followers we can get. For those looking for that social “high,” it can be an overwhelming and never-ending battle.
You must not turn to idols, and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal; I am Yahweh your God. (Leviticus 19:4)
Currently, sitting on my desk is the book No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols by Kelly Minter. I picked it up this last weekend and have only just begun, but already I can see Kelly’s words speaking true even to the discussion of social media:
“Could it be that we are serving our own gods, though we sit on the front row of church and serve the fruit tea? Do we claim the Bible as our source of truth while our real counselors come from movie screens and magazines? Perhaps so many of our struggles—lack of freedom, loss of spiritual desire, slavery to image, perfectionism, confusion, and infinitely more possibilities—have much to do with God and gods.” ~ Kelly Minter, No Other Gods
Could it be that you are beginning to feel the social media pressure like I am? If you are beginning to wonder whether you are in need of a social media break, here are a few things to ponder as you evaluate whether or not social media has become an idol in your own life.
8 Questions to Consider When Contemplating Your Social Media Use
- Do you find yourself reaching for your cell phone or tablet first thing in the morning instead of your Bible?
- Do you communicate more with others via social media or personal interactions?
- Do you text to others across the room instead of talking to them face-to-face?
- Do you find yourself saying “just a minute” to your kids or spouse so that you can finish leaving a status update or tweet?
- Are you stressed from information overload?
- Are you depressed because of your social media stats or lack of interaction?
- Are you staying up late to chat, scan Pinterest, or check the latest Instagram pics?
- Are your household chores failing to get done because you spend so much time on the computer browsing social media trails that you run out of time?
Social media is a part of the 21st century. I get that. It’s also a part of blogging and business promotion. But even within those circles sometimes social media can take over so that you can’t concentrate on the task at hand, the relationship at hand, or building your relationship with God as He desires. When that happens you need to take a break, no matter what the short-term social media cost. And, if you are really worried about your stats for your blog or business or what have you, consider using an automated service (such as Jetpack or Twitterfeed) to update your posts for awhile. No, it’s not the same as a personal status update, but it is better than nothing and it keeps your foot in the door for when God tells you it is time to return…if it’s time to return.
Until then, let go of that idol and enjoy the peace that God desires to give you. It will be worth it.