So, you may or may not have noticed, but Facebook and Instagram went down for a few hours on Monday. (October 4th) I was a little taken aback at how much reaction it caused. It got me to thinking of how much we've come to rely on social media, and how unhealthy that can be. So, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
First of all, let me start by saying, I was also really annoyed with the outage. I had just posted shortly before it went out, and I could not check back on it or read my online friends' posts, no matter how many times I tried to check or refresh. Like, every five minutes for a while. Seriously.
Then I caught myself. What was I doing? I had a break from social media (which I had been thinking about taking for a while) and how was I spending it? Complaining. Hovering over my phone, iPad, and computer to see when it would be back on. Frustrated because I couldn't see how many people had liked or commented on my post.
The thought hit me at some point- "You know, you could use this time to pray, instead." Talk about conviction.
And then another question came to me. Why did I make the post in the first place? To share a few words from my heart that might encourage a few people? Or to see how many likes I could get?
Suffice it to say, I was thoroughly chastised.
But I was also surprised to see how losing Facebook and Instagram had shaken everyone and I realized how vital social media had become. Businesses rely on it. People lost their connections with one another. It even generated a bit of fear. What would happen if it crashed for good?
And it became clear just how much people "need" social media. Have you noticed?
"My kid did a good thing!" *post it on social media*
"I'm feeling sad today." *post it on social media*
"I have a new business." *post it*
"I love my new outfit!" *post it*
"I'm having family time." *post it*
"I have a prayer request." *post it*
"I'm having a party." *post it*
"I haven't heard from my friend in a while." *send a private message*
Now I'm not saying these are necessarily bad things to post about. I've done it myself. But I'm bothered by the hair-trigger response we have now to share moments of our life on our feeds, rather than with people or rather just enjoy them for ourselves and not feel the need to share. But we now base our validation on how many likes, comments, and shares we get. When our validation should come from Jesus.
I'm also turned off by how much businesspeople now have to use social media just to have a chance to succeed. Boutique owners, authors, maintenance workers, etc. all feel they won't survive without using a social media platform. And families never call each other personally about upcoming events anymore. They post the details on Facebook, and if someone in their family doesn't happen to have it, well, oops. Sorry you missed the 50th anniversary party. (No, this is not a real event I'm referring to! Just an example.)
I was thankful during the lockdown that we could still have our church services online. Worshiping and hearing God's Word did not have to stop because of a pandemic. But now I wonder how many people are still content to stay home (when they don't have to) and watch, rather than surround themselves with God's people and experience being IN a service again?
I remember as a kid talking to my friends for hours on the landline phone. We went to people's houses for dinners and barbecues to catch up. We'd send actual paper wedding/party/shower invitations or announcements. We got Christmas cards in the mail. We saw faces, heard actual voices, read handwritten words on paper.
I remember when businesses could put an ad in the paper, hang up flyers everywhere, maybe record a little jingle for the radio, and spread the word by mouth.
I remember when families could enjoy being together without stopping for a picture every five minutes to show the world what they're doing.
Now, before you throw stones at me, let me wrap this up by saying, I know social media is beneficial. I use it myself to grow my platform as an author. I use it to connect with family and friends who live apart from me. I also post pictures to share what's happening in my life. It can be a very powerful tool for spreading encouragement or a need for prayer. It can generate interest and revenue for new businesses and services. It became very appreciated over the last two years when so many people were cut off from one another. I know it has its place and it can be meant for good.
But if we've come to the place where we can no longer function without it, or we panic when it's down, or we forget how to interact with actual humans, then I think it's time to take a step back and reevaluate. Why and how are you using it? How much time in your day is spent scrolling or posting? How many times do you stop what you're doing so you can take a picture of it and share? How often do you pick your device up, rather than a book to read or a phone to call a friend? How many activities have you neglected so you could keep up with your social media accounts? How much of your mind is caught up in the online world so that it has trouble disengaging from that and connecting to the beautiful life you have in front of you? How much time do you spend on Instagram or Facebook (or any of the other many platforms) compared to the time you spend reading your Bible, praying, ministering, spending actual time with your friends and family?
I'm guilty, too. But I want to change that. Yes, I will continue to use my social media platforms (for the time being, anyway) but I refuse to be controlled by them. I want to be a good steward of the time God has given me to grow as a Christian. I don't want to be chained to a device all day long or stress because I haven't checked my feed in ten minutes. I want to be free to see the world through my eyes, not the lens of my phone camera.
And I want to stay connected with you, even if social media crashes for good. I would love for you to sign up for my newsletter so that we still have a way to communicate. And no, I did not write this blog post just to coerce you into signing up! XD But if you want to know what's the latest in my writing and personal life, that's a great way to start. I only send newsletters out once a season, but I might send an occasional email to let you know of anything new, such as new blog posts. I promise I won't crowd your inbox, but I love to connect with my readers. :)
I hope you all are well and survived the social media-crash unscathed! LOL Until next time, friends, stay connected and always...
In His Grip!