Let’s face it - social media is not going away any time soon. It’s become a normal part of life to see people scrolling on their devices in public, at home and at work. It’s a tool that can be handled well and used for good, or abused and cause harm.
Fasting from social media is a needed spiritual discipline today to break away from all of the voices and distraction that screens give us. It’s important to remember who we are, who is around us and to keep our hearts in check as the technological revolution continues to captivate, change and even control us.
In a study by the Pew Research Center on Social Media Use in 2018, it stated that 88% of 18-29-year-olds use social media, 78% among those aged 30-49, 64% among those aged 50-64 and 37% 65 and older. They found that “roughly half of social media users ages 18 to 24 (51%) say it would be hard to give up social media” and it’s not hard to see why - it can become addictive and habit-forming.
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Taking a Break from Social Media
After taking a few days break from social media myself, I can testify that it did me a world of good. I was more intentional with my time rather than endlessly scrolling on my phone. My mind was focused more on Jesus rather than what so-and-so was doing with their kids or where such-and-such was on their holiday. I plan to take more regular, scheduled time away from social media, especially for the positive effect it had on my mental health. On the days where I’m “active” on various platforms, I want to use it well, making the best use of the time.
I’ve recognized the importance of uninstalling apps and even switching off devices completely from time to time in order to recharge my own batteries, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Are you brave enough to join me in surrendering social media for a time or will you “unfriend” me for making such a suggestion? If you’re like me and want to curb the habit of social media or maybe you think you’ve got it under control, here are five questions to ask yourself the next time you’re clicking the like button, pressing share or have realized you’ve been mindlessly scrolling for the last hour...
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1. Are You Being Intentional in Your Time with God and Others?
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5).
If we’ve flicked through the profiles of social media accounts, checked our emails, updated our Facebook status, written and shared a blog post and whatever else we have prioritized in our day, but have not spent time at the feet of Jesus, why? Can we get something from social media that we cannot get from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself?
There is nothing that we will find on social media that will truly gratify the longings we have like Jesus will. Keep connected to Jesus because He is the one we need to be listening to and speaking with on a daily basis before we engage with others online.
2. Are You Discontented after Viewing Social Media?
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Timothy 6:6-7).
Social media has left me feeling low and discontented on a fairly regular basis. I’ve never been motivated by money, but then I see my friend has bought a lovely new home and I covet their shiny kitchen cabinets and big living space. I have a wonderful little boy, yet I see someone post their news of having a second baby and I yearn for another. Then there’s the holiday snaps, the new outfit on a perfect body, the impressive amount of highlighted Bible verses in someone’s Bible, the beautifully captured family portrait and I could go on and on. Maybe you can relate.
It’s important to remember that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above (James 1:17). Jesus is the gift that is given for all of us (Romans 6:23) and it is His grace that saves us from sin and death because He loves us (Ephesians 2:8; John 3:16).
Everything belongs to God (Hebrews 2:10) and, although we might not see it on social media, it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). With knowing all that Jesus has given us, supremely being Himself on the cross, how can we stay in a place of discontentment, longing for what others have? We need to understand, like the apostle Paul, how to be content in all circumstances, whether with little or much, knowing it is Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:12-13).
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3. Do Your Posts and Interactions on Social Media Glorify God?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
How we live matters to God and that includes what we are doing on social media. Here are some questions to ask as you thoughtfully think about how you engage with others on social media:
- Why am I posting this? It’s the motive behind what we post, “for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
- What does this say about me as a follower of Jesus and as an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)?
- Does this celebrate and lift others up or could it be used to tear someone down?
- Am I doing this for affirmation? Why do I need to be affirmed by others when I am chosen and beloved by God (1 Thessalonians 1:4)?
4. Are You Sure You Want to Say That?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
The anonymity that a screen provides can give us the audacity to say things to people that we would never say to their face. In contrast, the Bible is filled with verses on how to speak and use our words which would work wonders online if we followed its wisdom.
Some examples include: having conversations that are full of grace (Colossians 4:6), not speaking unwholesome words but words that build others up and benefits the hearers (Ephesians 4:29), the heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the wicked mouth pours out evil things (Proverbs 15:28), keep the tongue from evil and mouth from lying (Psalm 34:13) and many, many more.
It says in Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” This is a prayer worth uttering as we consider what we post online.
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5. Are You Spending Time with God and Others More Than Interacting on Social Media?
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Are you wasting too much time scrolling on your device? How often do you pick up your phone to check social media? Do you have time in the day to get everything that needs to be done completed or are you turning to your phone frequently to fill up that spare time? Is it affecting quality time in other relationships with family/friends? Are you giving your whole attention to someone when they are speaking with you, or are you mesmerized by your newsfeed? There’s a lot to consider, but we should be wise and make the best use of our time and make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Just imagine how hard it would be walking along, glued to our phone, not paying attention to what is around us. Think of how many things we would miss along the way, people we would ignore, sights we would miss and street lights we would hit! Having a break away from social media is liberating as we focus our attention on Jesus to understand His will for our own lives - less of us, more of Him. He wants us to love Him with “all (our) heart and with all (our) soul and with all (our) mind and with all (our) strength” and to “love (our) neighbor as (ourself) (Mark 12:30-31). If social media is distracting us from these two things, we need to hand it over.
Here’s a challenge. Can we pray before we go online? Pray for wisdom and self-control for all that we see and for our interactions with others online, for the eye is a lamp of the body and when it’s healthy, the whole body will be full of light (Matthew 6:22). We have been blessed by social media for sure, but we need to be wise as we navigate the problems that it presents and make the most of every opportunity in the time and place we are placed in for the glory of God.
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