I joked with my wife that I was on a Facebook fast. Although I have not been off completely, I probably have been on 10 minutes TOTAL in the last 10 days. I went on to post a notice about our teen class and change of worship service times. I also went on to get a news update on two friends who were having medical emergencies. I quickly scanned some posts, responded to friend requests, then logged out. My Twitter break has been shorter but consisted of a few times in to respond to a message about Bible study material recommendations, check news by my friends, and retweet some good posts. I have been on Twitter slightly longer, about 30 minutes total over the last 10 days since I do have some work related accounts I follow. I have pretty much abandoned Google Plus.
I have taken breaks from social media in the past for various reasons. During elections I don’t access as much. On football game days and sports finals I have started to stay off (keeps me from getting into dumb debates about teams or thinking less of some friends who have little tact or take sports too seriously and personally). And, as now, the occasional unannounced fast.
Social Media and the Smartphone
It seems that more people are taking a break or re-evaluating how they access social media. There is an excellent article by Wes McAdams on “Why I Deleted Facebook and Twitter From My Phone” that I recommend you read. It describes his regained focus on family relationships by limiting his access on his phone. I conducted my social media phone experiment differently. I originally moved my Bible program to the slot occupied by the Facebook app so when I reflexively went to Facebook my thumb would be hovering over the Bible app instead. I made a commitment to click and read the Bible if I was going to click and read Facebook. While fasting, my social media apps are in a folder that are not accessible as quickly.
Social Media Fatigue?
I don’t know if it is “social media fatigue” but I’m just not on much at all anymore and in and out of Twitter quickly. I bought a Chromebook to do more writing and haven’t added Facebook or Twitter to the launch bar so I have to access from another device. I haven’t completely dropped Facebook . I probably won’t drop Facebook and Twitter because I use them to link to some business applications and I do want to have a way to reach out to certain friends that I see sporadically. But I transformed the way I used social media before and am changing the way I use it again.
What Have I Gained?
I have generally banned devices from mealtimes so nothing has really changed there.
I feel like I’ve gained more focus when working and writing since I can’t access social media on my Chromebook and have greatly limited it elsewhere. I feel more focused generally since I’m not distracted by so much noise of everyone’s lives. I do get nuggets of important information such as births, deaths, and major life events or profound items of interest mixed in with the static from mundane life events, sports and political drivel, and cat pictures.
I’ve quit chasing “likes”. Being off of Facebook/Twitter has forced me to refrain from posting things that I know will garner likes. I have received invitations to do some cool things, have had some great experiences, and enjoyed some personal achievements and have not shared them on social media. I have shared some of them with my family and friends but have refrained from posting them. This is a challenge as I have had to personally wrestle with. I have found that I post to my blog in order to help people but often my Facebook and Twitter posts were more self-centered. That is not a problem of the social networks, it is my problem, but like an alcoholic who avoids bars my avoidance of social media is teaching me to be more humble.
I do see value in some religious discussions on social media and there is virtue in that. I generally have not had as much success. Certain friends post some valuable Bible study info so I list them on my close friends list so I can see their updates. Since I work full-time in a business job I don’t have the time that some full-time preachers and others without work constraints have to engage in such discussions. In fact, I have refrained from posting at times because I knew I could not commit the time to address objections or clarifications. Instead, I write here where I can fully explain the subject I wish to discuss without restrictive comment spaces. Instead of reading posts I am spending more time reading the Bible, books, and blog posts. Don’t misunderstand: I am not devaluing religious discussions via social media but simply stating that it is not the optimal medium for me.
I do not know where this will lead. I am enjoying the focus and contentment and attention to study and writing. I am enjoying avoiding needless and foolish arguments over politics and sports teams (though I personally love football). I enjoy not reading complaints about the things in life that most people in the world would feel lucky to have. I do miss some information on my friends but I have found the important information always makes it back to me though a little delayed.
As noted above, I will probably not close the accounts so you can still connect to me via Twitter and the Godly Youth Facebook page. I’ll be around occasionally so don’t be surprised if you see me there.