Saturday, November 7, 2015

I'll Title It--wait, someone liked my status!

     I never used to be big on social media. I didn't even have a Facebook until about six months ago. I have since discovered that what they say is true: social media really does start to take over your life. I tried to document the amount of time I spend scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking notifications, and replying to messages. but I couldn't even keep track. And I think it's a problem. I'm sure you've all heard a lot about how "social media is bad for us, it's taking us away from real meaningful relationships, people aren't interested with the real world.", etc. All true, but what I started to find is that Facebook wasn't just eating up time; it was killing my motivation to do anything else.
     When I moved here to New York, Facebook became my primary means of keeping in touch with people back home. We'd chat via Facebook messenger, share funny pictures or videos with each other, comment on each others' posts. Scrolling through my feed helped me feel like I was connected with the people and the events going on at home, something I really needed as I made a very dramatic transition.
     Or at least, something I thought I needed.
What I've actually been finding (and I'm sure my roommates can corroborate this statement) is that I'm always talking about home, talking about my friends, about what's going on, everything from my family to the weather. In fact, I've spent so much time thinking about home that I started comparing everything here to the way things are at home. "It doesn't rain like this at home." "We don't have traffic like this at home." "Why won't it snow already; it's snowing in Colorado!"
     I do want to say briefly that this is pretty normal for a person who's just moved halfway across the country. You miss what you've left and you try to understand where you are now by comparing it to what you already know. This is normal. But the more I thought about home, the more I missed home; the more I missed it, the more I wanted to feel connected to it, and my Facebook and social media time skyrocketed. I spent more time trying to stay in touch with my friends from home than I did putting in a conscious effort to make new friends here.
     How much time do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or other social media networks? Do you notice the impact this time has on you? I know I started getting frustrated with Facebook the more time I spent on, but I just kept getting on, posting, sharing, pretending to talk to people. It distracted me from my loneliness, sure, but that isn't the point. God didn't call me to pack up and move so I could spend all my time ignoring the people He'd put around me, people who I know are desperately in need of Him.
     I think sometimes we substitute a sort of "social media revival" for actual, relational evangelism. We act like posting "I believe in Jesus", "God loves you", or following the classic "type amen and share" is enough. People see it on our wall, we're standing for our faith, and we're encouraging others. Full points for effort, right?
     Humans are naturally relational creatures. It is made so clear in Jesus' ministry that relationships were what mattered to him. He spent time with people. He dined with "tax collectors and sinners" (Matthew 9:11). He taught people and stayed in their homes and reached out to them. The early church saw this and they followed this example. We don't bring people the love and mercy of Christ by putting #jesuslovesyou as our Facebook status. I'm not saying these things are necessarily bad; I'm simply says that this is not the extend of the ministry to which God has called us.
     Social media is distracting us from the world that's actually physically around us. Do you want to know how many times I actually stopped to check Facebook or messenger while I was typing this post? (The answer: too many). We need to tear our focus away from these pointless distractions and realise that the real world has so much more to offer us. There are real people with real needs and real struggles living all around me; why did I feel like Facebook was my only connection to the world?
     I'm not going to tell you you should bail on Facebook and all social media entirely; I actually think it can be an incredibly useful tool for us to connect with people who may never hear the Word of God any other way. What I am going to challenge you to do is be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media, and the impact it's having on your life. Are you constantly frustrated as you scroll through pages of people posting their political opinions just to get people riled up? Maybe you need a break. Does the amount of time you spend online exceed the time spent in meaningful conversations with the people around you? Try talking to people. There's a lot more to a person than what they post online. Be careful as you allow the internet into your life, because it's scary and time consuming and often not worth the trouble we go through for it. *News Update: I've officially deleted both Facebook and messenger from my phone; it was taking up too much storage space and WAY too much time.*

     What are your thoughts on social media? Have you tried giving it up? What did you find? Always love to hear from you!


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