Facebook has been in the news a lot lately...
It's good to know that I am not a news anchor, a journalist or someone who spends their time following news stories (they probably have a special name too). I am a pastor who loves Jesus and cares deeply about seeing more people know Him.
In the last week I've seen more imagines like the above one popping up in my newsfeed (obviously, I'm a Facebook user). I'm starting to wonder what is causing people to want to make this shift.
For the last couple years I have been more and more convinced that social media isn't making us any more social. The other day I intentionally took 36 hours away from social media to focus on my family. My conclusion from the experience; I enjoyed being present more than thinking about my Instagram story or checking in at Disneyland to let everyone know we were there for Isaiah's birthday.
Before you keep reading I want to be clear on a few things:
I am a nobody in the social media world.
There are people with millions of followers and I am not at that level.
My voice is small in the vast web.
My opinion is based on some thoughts that I'm writing at my kitchen table while my kid sleeps soundly upstairs and my bulldog has her five minutes of energy before she starts snoring on the couch for the next two hours.
Here are four reasons I think more people are considering leaving social media:
1) We long for human interactionI didn't do too well in history in high school, in fact I didn't do that great in high school at all. I dropped out my junior year so I could smoke weed and snowboard. I did end up finding a passion in college and even did my graduate degree. I've been fortunate to have studied history and learned more about human interaction that I thought I would.
Most societies think about the family as the primary source of encouragement and connection. While traveling in Africa, I learned that many families will gather together to discuss all the kids in the family. I'm talking about lots of cousins and kids being talked about in a room smaller than my living room. The family will decide what kid has the most potential to make it in college. They will invest their money in sending one kid to school and the kid might not be your kid. But the kid knows that it will be his or her job to help the family out once he or she gets a good job.
In America, we've moved to an individualistic society. We think it's all about the self. But it seems this model isn't working too well for us. I think people are longing for more human interaction, just like I was for my son's third birthday last month. We are longing for more people time and less screen but aren't completely sure how to accomplish this.
2) The screen never satisfiesI'm not sure I've ever left scrolling social media thinking, "I'm really glad I just spend thirty minutes of my day looking at nothing." The screen doesn't satisfy our longing. No matter how many likes you get on a pic or a video or a post or anything it will never satisfy.
The other day I posted saying that I've been sober for eighteen years. It is a huge accomplishment! In the comments a friend from high school, who probably never thought I would be sober, commented that the post had over 600 likes and she had never seen that. I had never had that many likes before on a post.
What I have learned is no matter how many hours I spend on social media scrolling, no matter how many likes I get or how many accolades, the screen never satisfies. It doesn't satisfy because God created me to do life with Him. What really satisfies my soul is spending time with God and other people. I love being outdoors and enjoying what God made.
3) God wired us to do life with other peopleWe were created to do life with each other. In the very beginning of the Bible God created mankind. Adam named all the animals and then realized he was alone. He was the only one without a partner. God created a suitable helper for him. God wired us to do life with each other. We are hardwired to do life with other people.
Don't beleive me? What is the worst punishment our judicial system gives? I would argue its solitary confinement. I think the death punishment is gnarly but solitary is horrible for inmates.
God wired us to do life with others. This is why my friend recently posted that she was looking for reasons to keep her Facebook account. She was looking to the people she does life with to ask for their help. She had 24 people comment on the post. Some gave reasons to stay. Some reasons were funny and other heartfelt. Someone posted a funny video about the mass exodus from Facebook.
As I've been fortunate to do life with others I've realized how much I need human interaction with others. I need people to share my thoughts, dreams, and fears with. I have a wonderful wife who, when I'm on social media, I can ignore. I have great kids, who when I'm on social media, I can miss out on. I have so much in my life that social media distracts me from.
Now, I know. There are positives, please don't get me wrong. I just think more and more people are weighing the benefits of sitting on their screen with constant scrolling taking place.
4) Many times we leave our experience feeling worthlessThe last thing I've personally noticed is that I can leave social media feeling a little worthless or jaded. I could be having a rad time with my kids but I see your post from Hawaii. Then I start thinking, "I wish I was there."
I could be in Hawaii, but you are posting from Tahiti and I get jealous. Am I the only one with these feelings? If this is just me please let me know.
I could be snowboarding with my kids in Big Bear but I see your post from Tahoe and the ten feet of snow you just got. My nine inch storm sucks even more now and I wish I was riding Kirkwood.
Social media has become a new comparison gave or a way for envy, covetousness and jealousy to stir in my heart. The more I'm writing about this, I'm starting to think about deleting my account. Just like I said, my bulldog is snoring. My kids are asleep and my wife is out studying the Bible with some other women. I'm going to sit on these thoughts, edit them another day and probably post them (took me a week).
This post may not change your life or it might. Maybe you are on the fence like the above people. You are wondering if you should delete your social media. I did once. About six years ago I took three months off social media. It was great. At least once a year I leave my social presence for about 30-40 days and it's great!
I just read a post from a friend who deleted all the people he said, "yes" to that he met once or knew from school but wasn't friends with. Someone mentioned how he deleted thousands of friends. His number of friends is in the hundreds now, but he is connecting with people he really wants to connect with.
I haven't deleted people because I believe that my posting Bible verses, camp experiences and pictures with my family is helping more people love Jesus and their family.
Do what you need to do to connect with God and others. Like I said, these are just my thoughts.