Think about this. All recorded history and facts are at our fingertips. No longer do we have to wonder “what year did that happen”, “what’s the RBI record for 2nd basemen in odd number years”, or “what movie was that guy in?” With a few clicks, the answer can be ours. The same goes with social media. No longer do people have to wait to know how we feel about something. We can either post our thoughts or react(like, heart, smiley face, shocked face, etc.) to the thoughts of others in an instant. How many times have you been reading or thinking and something great pops in your mind or you see the perfect quote? What is one to do? Share it immediately of course! In July, our family went to the beach. I needed it. I was burned out on a molecular and spiritual level(did I mention that studies have shown a link between depression and cell phone use). I was excited to begin the habit of daily morning devotions and journaling(on the beach no less) and to delete Facebook and Twitter off of my phone. An amazing thing happened. The first day of devotions I came across a great quote from John Wesley’s writing and instinctively thought, “I’ve got to share this right now!” The only problem was I had intentionally left my phone in the car plus…no Facebook or Twitter. When the urge to post subsided my mind returned to the quote and I reflected on it more deeply than I’ve reflected on anything in a long time. One thought led to another and soon I found myself lost in the moment, scribbling down my thoughts, and taken away by the Holy Spirit to a place I had not been in a long time. It was a euphoric feeling. I continued my morning reading and praying and at the end I just sat and took it all in. It hit me. How many times has God given me(or you) a great thought and once we have shared it on social media that’s it. We feel our work is done and the moment passes and that thought soon fades away except on the Wall of Facebook or the Timeline of Twitter. I have tried to calculate how many hours(days, months!) that I have wasted on the scroll. You know what I mean: the mindless social media scroll of thumbing down the page until something catches our eye and we either click our reaction or click on the article. I have permanent tendonitis in my thumb. I have encouraged my son to look into being a carpal tunnel surgeon. Between video games, keyboards, and phones he would always have a line of patients. What if, instead of going right to our phones to find the answers, we took the time to think about it? Of course, I’m not talking about if you need life saving medical advice or something like that. What conversations and thoughts would be borne out of letting our minds search for…anything? To fire back up those connections that have grown dormant? What if, in the light of recent racial events in Charlottesville and other cities, I sought the Lord and let my mind consider all of these things instead of scrolling through to see what everyone else thought and reacting to it? I’m not saying that there’s not a time and place to scroll through your social media feed, but we have gotten to the point where it’s our go to solution for any dead time in our day.
Now, I will add Twitter and Facebook to my phone when attending an event that I want to “report” on which is usually a church conference or a wrestling match. Insert your joke here. Most of the time though, I’m only getting on from my computer or iPad and only at the times I’ve set aside to do such.
I kept Instagram on my phone. I have never struggled with it personally as far as getting lost in the scroll. It allows me to post to Facebook and Twitter and now I will mark the quotes and scriptures I find in the morning for posting later. I have also traded the screen for a book every night 30 minutes before I go to bed. There’s been an amazing difference in my quality of sleep and sharpness of my dreams. Here are some books that have really impacted me over the past month or so…and yes, I am reading more than I ever have before.
The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture(Hey, I didn’t say these were all serious books.)
Here are 3 suggestions I would make to move from reacting to reflecting
- Take social media off of your phone if you can’t resist the urge to immediately post every good thought you have.
- Give yourself time(I prefer the mornings) to read, reflect and pray. Get up early enough so time is not an issue and you don’t feel rushed. Start writing down what you’re reading and the thoughts that come to your mind. Feel free to share these later, but don’t lose the power of the moment to go deeper.
- Schedule scroll time. Set aside 15 minutes(not right after you wake up, right before you go to bed, or during family time) to see what’s happening and when time’s up that’s it.
I hope to continue the daily of deeper reflection and thinking. God continues to bring my mind back from a dark place of depression every single day. The depression has always kept me from my best work including writing which I hope to remedy shortly. Thanks for reading. What’s been your experience with social media and smart phones? How are you combating the pull to the mindless scroll?