I love social media. It’s a great tool to connect, create, learn, mobilize, and to enjoy beautiful things. But it also causes anxiety if not used well.
Fifteen hundred years ago a group of monastic Christian mystics created the concept of a “rule of life,” or commitments to ways of living. Here is my current “rule of life” regarding my use of social media. These are not intended to be “rules” that can never be broken. Rather, they are guidelines I am trying to follow in this season to help break some of my unhealthy habits.
- Don’t pee with or sleep with your phone. Social media is not a platform for relaxation. Although it can provide a nice escape through endless scrolling, it does not replenish or satisfy. Your phone does not belong with you on the toilet or in your bed.
- Don’t let “likes” be your first source of feedback. If you are looking for affirmation or comfort, social media is not the first place to go. A hundred “likes” or “hugs” on your post won’t satisfy your deeper need. If you’re hurting, call a few close friends and ask them to pray for you. If you are feeling insecure about your post, send it to a trusted leader for feedback before letting the public be your first critic. Process before you publish.
- Practice what you preach. If you have an important petition to share, make sure you’ve signed it first. If you post a challenge or teaching (about a “rule of life”, for example), make sure you’re trying it yourself as you’re encouraging others to do so. Spread important information with the urgency that is needed, but do so with integrity.
- Chew and digest before stuffing your face. Don’t let the massive amount of input make you sick with unprocessed knowledge. Read stuff, but then do something with it. Ask: What did I learn from my reading? What questions do I have? What emotions did that evoke? What invitations can I respond to? Who of my friends will I call on the phone because they’ve expressed they are hurting?
- Don’t let FOMO cheapen your creativity. Important conversations are happening quickly all the time. Of course you want to be a part of them. But if waiting a few days or a couple weeks can help you have a more thoughtful piece to contribute, then take the time for the creative investment. Sharing just to prove you can “keep up” is never very flattering.
These are a few of my exhortations to myself around social media. Which ones can you relate to? What would you add to your list?
In my next post, I will share a prayer to pray every time you open up your social media or turn on your phone.