Stone Soup for Five: Two months without social media--The Experimental Luddite update

Two months without social media--The Experimental Luddite update


I'm almost at the two month mark of my no social media experiment.



After I posted my original post a few weeks ago, I had an avalanche of emails and comments.  I'm not alone with feeling like something is off balance in my life after all, and it seems to start with the computer screen. (Believe me, the irony is not lost on me that I'm typing this on the computer and putting it out on my blog.)

Most of the comments were encouraging and positive, but a few had questions which made me think I need to explain my motivation a bit better.

See, in my head chaos and noise are the perfect breeding ground for hurry, envy, worry, and bitterness.  Combine those with a rushed life of racing from one thing to the next with no thoughtfulness, no pauses, no time for even a breath, and I end up hopeless.  Sin is too big, problems are mountains, and God seems too little or indifferent to do anything about it.

The biggest cause of chaos and noise in my life (the internet) was the one thing that I thought was my way of taking a break.  Turns out those little breaks slipped in here and there, were breaking me.  I was killing time with a "quick scroll" that in turn was killing my heart... and my hope.

Do I think Facebook and Instagram and social media are evil or wrong? Absolutely not.

Am I calling everyone to get off?  Maybe not...

Am I encouraging you to think about how you are using the things of the internet?  Absolutely yes!

One of my arguments for staying on social media and just trying to control and limit myself (that I've heard from others too), was that it is a good way to help me see when someone needs prayer, or is struggling.  (But did I really pray or reach out?  I'd usually type a quick response that I'd pray... and then forget to pray because I must scroll on until I have to get off and rush to the next thing.)  I also argued that it was a way I could post a quick verse or thought about God to others online, to be a light shining in the darkness of the internet.  But did I even think about or bother to take the time to read that verse to my boys or write it on a card or note for those who live life in the same house as me, or with friends who I know in flesh and blood life?  Did I stop and think on how this scripture applies to me and my life before rushing to get that picture up on Instagram?  Why am I so concerned with my digital world, but not with the people in my real life?

We as a culture, and me as a person, have grown alarmingly exocentric--trying to reach out to everyone everywhere outside of our home--and ignoring the egocentric life (the family-centered life) we're called to throughout the Bible.  We're living these huge, far-reaching lives on the internet and ignoring the ministry we are actually called to in our home.  Why?

I heard an excerpt from a sermon by John Piper on Hebrews 12:1-2 which says to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us so we can run with endurance.  Piper was talking about the importance of asking the right question.  The minimum righteousness question would be "Is Facebook bad?  Is Instagram sinful?  Is scrolling online causing me to sin?  Those are the wrong questions.

Instead Piper said to ask the maximum righteousness question:  Does this thing help me run, or is it really an invisible weight slowing me down?  That's exactly the right question.  That's what we all need to be asking.  Does the thoughtless scrolling hinder how I use my time?  Does it stop me from talking to my children about the little things that make up life?  Does it rob me of noticing God's wonder in a flower, a cloud, holding my husband's hand?  Does it stop me from reading? Thinking? Praying? Doing laundry?  Blessing my family in little ways? Yes, YES, YES!  It's killing my life and affecting those around me... even the little scrolls while waiting in line in otherwise dead time keep me from noticing and thinking on bigger and better things and other people.

So two months into this experiment and I feel like I have a clearer head.  I read more and can pray with more focus.  I have time to do things I love and am starting to be able to make connections better... how this thing connects to that thing or how this reminds me of that... which is really what thinking is.  How a scripture relates to a problem my son is having with a friend.  Or how we can talk about the message a movie is trying to get across.  I'm starting to see sin as already defeated, problems as holy sandpaper (for God to smooth my rough edges), and God as amazingly huge, loving, and the only true hope.

God has been nudging me this way for years and maybe now I'm finally quiet enough to listen.  Last year it was cultivating hope amidst the noise, two years ago it was meditating on what hope is.  I'm praying I can finally learn and live out this lesson.  I hope this year (or maybe forever) off teaches me how to steal back moments normally lost and transform them into little points of hope, love, a smile, a text, a prayer... to the real life faces around me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Let's keep the conversation going in the comments below.






16 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I didn't read your original post about this, but it struck a chord with me. Last week was the first week of a two week holiday & I was away. So I went off social media. It wasn't all the hard, but then I was away & out of my usual life. So that made it easy enough to avoid social media. Now that I'm home, though, it's not easy. I'm not avoiding it this week, though. This post gave me food for thought & has me wondering about some things. Thanks again for it, & I shall continue to ponder this subject. I can't see me leaving social media completely, but I can see me minimising my time on it a great deal. I already spend a lot less time on it than I used to - some days were completely taken up by Facebook!! - & I feel better & freer without feeling like I have to do the social media thing all the time.

    Thanks again. ❤️

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    1. It's interesting how many people are feeling the same way as us! Thank you!

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  2. Hi Kari,
    I am SO glad to hear someone else say the same thing I have been saying for years but never acted on it until this month.
    I have been off Facebook for this month, but have recently been "checking" to see if anything new is happening. Sad to say, it's the same I also started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the sense of having to "see" what everyone was posting.
    I have neglected by own home and my marriage because I am aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. I think I might do the same and continue into the next month with no Facebook and Instagram. Who knows maybe this will me a forever thing for me as well.
    Thank you for being so transparent and open about this.
    Blessings to you,
    Dionne

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    1. I know how you feel. I don't know what the right permanent answer is, but hope we can both find out what works best for us! Thanks!

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  3. I too have been noticing how much social media has taken away from my family. I sit there and say it’s a way to connect with people I haven’t seen in a long time and how they like to keep up with us, along with the things you mentioned about praying for others. But more I began to compare my life to other people and seeing what they had and I did not. It was not content in my life and I wanted what they had. It takes focus away from my family and time with God. I went off Facebook two weeks ago, I still go on Instagram every now and then. But letting go has been freeing. I find that I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on things. Thanks for the encouragement, even though you don’t realize you gave it!

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  4. OUCH! Thanks for your honesty, Kari. I, too, will ponder on this and see where it takes me. Working at home doesn't afford me any kinds of spcial life, but after I move next week, I will be again close to a church I've gone to for years, and within a mile or so of my grandchildren. I've used social media to connect with others that I don't see in real life. Hopefully I can change that, too.

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    1. I know. It's hard to make. The convenience of keeping in touch is hard to beat for sure! Glad you're moving closer to friends and family too! Thanks!

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  5. I used to do an annual blackout time. I'd take a break from social media for a month. This year I took the majority of the summer "off." I am not the same person. However, it has been hard deciding how I'll move forward from this place. I felt more "present" in my daily life and quite honestly I didn't miss it (after a couple weeks). I pray your time away is fruitful in your life and ministry.

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  6. As I read your thoughtful, honest post, I had a few responses. First, I think all the reasons you had for being driven crazy were for good reasons. I agree that they they should stop. Really. Trying to create a community on Facebook that prays for one another is way too superficial. Being salt and light by posting verses is also too superficial. But on the other hand, your ministry to inspire those to read and meditate on the Word is not. To me those posts were a subtle accountability for me to be in the Word. You tried to do too much and your spirit was telling you that. If you ever come back to Facebook I would encourage you to just do one thing, like promote your books and let us know when you have resources for doodling and such on your blog. Keep it simple. Blessings

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  7. Our first mission field/ministry is to our family. I see & hear moms complaining about too much to do, and I wonder how many of them still have children at home who are being neglected while Mom scrolls or worries about the number of followers she has and struggling to "reach" more--all the while her TRUE mission field is trying to get her attention "Mom, lookit me!" Whatever stage or season of life we are in, God has work for us to do--and it is USUALLY right under our noses. Remember the words in Titus 2:3-5..."be busy AT HOME, love our husbands and children." Yes it is good to encourage others to do the same, but in my own life I have seen it is MUCH BETTER to serve in my own home, gain insight there, work with the people around me in real life...and as my children fledge, then my mission field spreads out to those nearby -- within my sphere of influence locally and in my church or neighborhood.

    Social media makes us think (!!) we have to have a global influence to have an impact. Start with those closest to you--where you will make the biggest impact for eternity with the people God has put within reach of your arms. Encircle THEM with your love, and the circle will widen. God has a plan, but so often we race off and do our own thing instead of what He wants us to be doing.

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  8. Kari, really enjoyed the Psalm 119 study. Learned a lot about God and what I need to do. But, I discovered I spent more time scrolling through what people were sharing about their journals and websites they used and less time with God and His Word. I decided I needed to limit the amount of time I spent on Facebook. Since then I have gotten back into reading God's word and journaling. For me this was one more way that Satan was distracting me from prayer, Bible reading, and time with God.

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  9. I have been re-reading the past few posts and reading a bit more into Deep Work and I realize, this is why I moved. I have zero cell service unless I go into the city and phone gets used rarely (scammers) and I watch t.v. sporadic intervals. I did watch a bit on Deep Work and I did find reviews online, so I am doing some stuff. I liked the paraphrased tips of "if not used in 30 days" cancel it as it is not missed. I did not realize the dude was so Carl Jung, whom I adored. This plays heavily into my decision too. Just to see that even Jung took breaks, as we know Jesus did, well that just is awesome.

    I will be shutting down anything I have not used in 30 days such as Twitter, Instagram, and pages of Likes on FB. I generally do that often, but I will do an indepth searching of even people that I do not even browse. I mainly kept FB for gaming, friends, family, and my Faith. I will be checking over my gaming stuff and cutting them down too. I did a great job last year as I had approx 10 games and cut them down to about 5. Now I was down to about 3 or 4. Really, I want to just work to 2, but I am working on baby steps. But, I can say that I have not been on the games in a week. This is progress.

    Since the mutual grouping from a lot of us - I have noticed just this week alone, I was not online one day. Another day, I was on my phone just in the evening. While I had not incorporated a ton... just mentally thinking about this - one can get things done and accomplish a lot. This is do-able and needed.

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