Why you should log out every now & then.
I was recently challenged and encouraged by a dear friend to pick up Tony Reinke’s book 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
For quite some time I was embarrassed to admit that I had a problem with my phone.
There would be times when I’d open up and times of vulnerability where I could admit that when _____ unfollowed me it hurt my feelings, or when ____ posted that photo it made me feel left out, or _____’s comment made me feel insecure.
I have had friends encourage me to step away from social media. The people who deeply knew me. Should have been a sign.
For so long, I was too prideful to admit that it was a real issue in my life. I was unwilling to talk about the hold it really had on me emotionally and psychologically. I was too embarrassed to discuss the hurt it had caused me. I didn’t want to seem weak. I didn’t want to fit the stereotype of “millennials and their phones.”
After some self-realization, I decided to check out this new book.
The book was challenging in the best way possible.
I want to tell everyone about it.
It wasn’t anti-smartphone or anti-social media. Quite contrary, actually.
I agree with the author that technology is a gift from God. It is not bad to use it, but it’s about how you use it.
Social media can be a blessing and a gift when used in the right way!
But we don’t always use it in the right way. At least, I certainly didn’t.
I want to talk about real issues with our phones. I want to talk about loneliness, and approval, and how we are spending our time.
As always, I’m going to get real with you all about some pretty embarrassing things. I want to share some highlights of the book and of course, I have a little challenge for us at the end.
I love staying connected. I am personally a huge fan of social media even though I have done several college presentations on the damage of it. I think it can be used for good and for evil.
I want to stir our minds and hearts a little. I want us to really evaluate ourselves.
How is your phone changing you?
The morning is when we should prepare ourselves spiritually for the day.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
…When I wake, I will be satisfied in Your presence.
My phone came before God almost every morning. Started with an alarm on my phone. Then, reading through squinty eyes, any late-night texts that came through. Then transitioning to social media notifications. Ohhh, did I get any emails overnight? Wait… is today the day I am having lunch with Alexis?
And before I know it, I have spent 30+ minutes scrolling and I am still laying in bed. Now I am running late. I don’t have enough time to eat breakfast, let alone spend some time in morning surrender with my Savior.
How am I starting my day?
How am I spending my time?
I just picture our Father looking down on me, so sad. He is waiting for me to look up at Him but I am so consumed by the meaningless things on that tiny screen.
What should be the very object of my affection cannot even catch my attention in the morning.
It is heartbreaking. He is waiting to give me all the love, all the peace, all the joy I need for the day and instead, I am using that time to compare myself, to think about all the things I have to do, and mindlessly scroll. My solitude and spiritual health are threatened by my need and desire to “be in the know.”
“I don’t want to miss out on anything that happened in the past few hours. So, God, can you just hold on?”
Nope. Not ok, Madison.
Think about it this way…
When I am dating someone, they’re usually the first person I want to talk to in the morning.
Just with any relationship… We must remember God, we must choose Him. If you are in a relationship with someone who you love and think about all the time, it is likely that they will be the first person you text or call when you wake in the morning. How satisfying to the soul would it be if we rewired our hearts and made God that person?
But besides mornings, what about out other rest?
How many of us lay in bed with the intention of going to sleep at night and instead pick up our phones? Before you know it, an hour has passed. Maybe more.
It’s exhausting to our hearts while stimulating our brains. We are then unable to sleep, and our minds are thinking about 27 different things. We cannot find rest.
Just like Tony writes on page 191, this can lead to further fatigue because we aren’t turning to a real fix, like community, or a nap, or exercise… but instead, we are being lured into a world of watching other people’s lives and reading articles that don’t actually benefit us.
God wants to give us rest.
Start your day off with surrender and communing with God. During the day build authentic and undistracted relationships with others, and during the night avoid isolation/loneliness by simply putting your phone away.
Social media leads to loneliness. Picking up our phone seems like an easy fix. We try to escape isolation by scrolling, grasping for connection… All the while feeding our sense of isolation by reminding us that we are indeed alone looking in on the lives of others.
When I am alone, I tend to look at my phone more, which then feeds the feeling of loneliness even more. I will sit on my couch and scroll, peering in on the picture-worthy-moments of my friends and strangers, alike.
Sometimes it’s like we are desperately waiting for some false sense of connection and community. On page 121 the author points out the raw reality that “we feel the sting of loneliness in the middle of online connectedness.”
Even when 2,000 people watch your story or 350 like your photo, your heart can feel hollow from the absence of real community and belonging.
I guarantee that half of the “Instagram models” we see battle with loneliness and possibly lack real community. Their lives seem so glamorous on the outside. Hmmm… I just wonder.
Even when you’re off your phone (thanks to notifications) we receive little reminders that scream ‘hey, look what you’re missing… you should check it out!’
FOMO is so real and can be so devastating.
It’s easy become enslaved.
We refresh and stalk and click.
We are just watching from the sidelines and scrolling though hours of other people’s lives, stories, experiences, and the “reality” they choose to share online.
Is this healthy? Is this helpful?
When we feel less than or lonely we continue to look at the very thing making us feel that way. All the while, God is waiting for us with open arms wanting to give comfort and security and peace.
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Some days, my attitude could be dictated by what I scrolled past on Instagram. I realized that the first thing I would do when I woke up was check my phone. I would compare myself. I would check-in. I would post. And I would stalk, and stalk, and stalk… (no shame… ok, maybe a little).
*I would even cry. Sometimes out of insecurity. Sometimes out of feeling left out or unimportant. Sometimes out of seeing all the accomplishments and highs of everyone else’s life when mine seemed to crumble. Sometimes out of seeing an ex or a friend move on. Sometimes out people that no longer wanted to be connected to be on social media so they would unfriend or unfollow. I would feel so rejected.*
What was wrong with me? Why don’t you want to see my life in pictures?
“So what do we fear more, the disapproval of God or the disappearance of online followers?” (Page 74 of 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You).
We crave immediate approval. We want to be reminded that we matter to me.
How many of us post/upload and then refresh… and then refresh? We have an urgent desire to see who is approving us, who is double-clicking and it leads us to stare at stagnant screens, hoping with every pull-down of the finger we will see another validation, another affirmation, another like.
Tony gently reminds us that “the urgency that you feel and that drives you online is caused by your fear of being unreplicated, unseen, unloved.”
In Derek Rishmawy’s Forget Me Not, points out a reality that resonated deeply with my soul. “…There’s a part of me that’s scared that if I’m out of sight, I’ll be out of mind, and then I won’t matter anymore.”
WOW. How true is this?
I have been guilty of posting stories out of boredom.
No purpose other than, “Hey… see me. I am still alive. Watch me. Make me feel like you care. I mean, after all, you clicked on my tiny circular photo.”
We don’t want to be left out.
There’s a desire to stay relevant…
Who am I if I am not seen? Will people forget about me? We crave more. We cannot be satisfied. We will grow weary by trying to stay relevant and current. We want to be known, seen, viewed, and told that we matter by double-clicks and views.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Who are we aiming to please?
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4
We have the opportunity to bless others, to bring the Kingdom, to help others encounter God. But we lose sight of this gift when we concern ourselves with pleasing others around us.
So what now?
I have scrolled social media in the past seeing it as a “fix.” The fix for loneliness, or to escape, or to fix my boredom…
But what if we used it wisely and for good and in a healthy dose?
One way that we can use technology in the right way is by allowing our online presence to be one of positivity and encouragement.
Page 20- “Every Christian is now given unmatched opportunity for online ministry.” Just like this blog you are reading.
Whether you have 30 followers or 30,000 followers, you have the opportunity to be a beacon of HOPE and an example of LIGHT through your online profile. You have the opportunity to use your online platform to give God glory and witness to your through posts, and tweets, and encouraging photos.
My short two week break from social media while I read this book was sobering and convicting. It gave me a healthy dose of humility and self-awareness. I am thankful to have the opportunity to use my social media as a platform for Jesus and as a place to record fun memories with friends.
When your goal is Christ, you must refuse to settle.
So moving forward, what are some practical ways we can practice self-awareness with our online lives?
- Rethink boundaries in your digital life.
- Ask yourself questions.
- Be self-aware.
- Make goals for yourself.
A personal goal I made is that I have decided to take one week every month away from all social media.
Know yourself and your limits to take a step back. The author even encourages the readers to open up the discussion with family friends to get their opinions of your phone habits and usage.
Some questions to ponder:
- Does my phone help or hurt me when reaching my spiritual goals?
- Do people see Jesus when they look at my online profile?
- Am I spending more time browsing and scrolling than interacting with real-life people?
- Am I spending more time browsing and scrolling than spending time with Jesus?
- Is my social media pouring out love and encouragement?
Technology is a gift from God. We must treat it as such and make sure that the Giver is always coming before the gift.