How much time do you spend on social media each day? Updating your status? Tweeting? Posting photos to Instagram? Trying to come up with catchy captions? Researching hashtags? Liking? Commenting?
We tell ourselves we’re connecting. Staying current. Keeping up with friends and family.
Maybe. But at what price?
I opened an Instagram account in 2017. It’s been fun. But two years later, I started feeling like something was missing. It started feeling shallow. Artificial. Like a chore.
The last few times I’ve been to a restaurant I’ve been struck by the number of diners who’re buried in their phones. A real live flesh-and-blood person is sitting right across the table from them. And they’re ignoring them. Choosing to dive into – or hide? – in their phones instead of engaging with the person who’s literally right in front of their face.
What’s up with that?
It’s like we don’t have time to grow strong in soul or spirit anymore. We’re buried under a deluge of instant facts, commentary, tweets, news, or the latest global crisis.
After pouring countless hours into Instagram and other SM venues last year, I sat back for a minute. Took a deep breath. And asked:
“What am I accomplishing with this? Where is this going? What’s the end game here?”
Followed by: “Whatever happened to stillness and solitude? To quieting my soul long enough to hear that still, small Voice? And find direction, healing, and grace?”
What I’ve Learned
One thing I’ve learned about the Lord over the years is that He doesn’t shout. He waits for me to be quiet long enough to hear His whisper. He doesn’t compete with noise. He waits for me to still the internal chatter so He can “get a word in edgewise.”
I had to decide. Do I want to pursue solitude and untangle my soul with Him, or chase Likes and Comments and Followers, et.al.?
In his forthcoming book, Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad, long-time favorite author John Eldredge puts it this way:
The ongoing deluge of intriguing facts and commentary, scandal and crisis, genuinely important guidance combined with the latest insider news from across the globe and our friends’ personal lives, gives the soul a medicated feeling of awareness, connection, and meaning. Really, it’s the new Tower of Babel—the immediate access to every form of “knowledge” and “groundbreaking” information right there on our phones, every waking moment. It confuses the soul into a state of artificial meaning and purpose, all the while preventing genuine soul care and life with God. Who has time to read a book? Plant a garden?
“… what has become the normal daily consumption of input is numbing the soul with artificial meaning and purpose while in fact the soul grows thinner and thinner through neglect, forced by the very madness that passes for a progressive life. We are literally being forced into the ‘shallows’ of our life.”
Did you get that? “We are literally being forced in to the ‘shallows’ of our life.” As John puts it, it’s:
“the new Tower of Babel—the immediate access to every form of “knowledge” and “groundbreaking” information right there on our phones, every waking moment. It confuses the soul into a state of artificial meaning and purpose, all the while preventing genuine soul care and life with God.”
I don’t know about you. But I don’t want splash around in the shallows. I want to dive into deep water. Have time to read a book. Plant a garden. Hike. Walk the dog. Splash in rain puddles. Throw snowballs. Picnic. Go out to lunch with a friend. Watch a sunset.
Get some breathing room in my life.
Before I read John Eldredge’s perceptive insight, I completed an assessment related to social media. And how much time it gobbled every day. Tangled up my soul. Created needless internal noise and tumult.
I have a choice. I can choose to reduce my media and SM intake so I can practice stillness every day.
So I dumped my Twitter account. Left a bunch of Facebook groups. Deleted apps. Turned off my phone. Reduced the number of blogs I administrate from 6 blogs to 3. Told my Instagram followers I’ll be on IG hiatus for January and possibly February, too. Maybe longer.
Why? Because I don’t want to do the Towel of Babel anymore.
Because I want to focus more on and enlarge the quiet spaces of my soul instead of filling them with constant, incessant noise.
Because I want to return to my twin passions: Writing and Reading. Books. And blogging about same.
So thank you to every one who’s taken the time to affirm that decision. Your kindness is greatly appreciated. Thank you also to my new blog followers. I hope you find this little corner of the blogosphere helpful and interesting. And of course, I’m always open to your ideas for worthwhile content.
Here’s to a Babel-less 2020!
Who’s with me?