Disclaimer: Please don’t read this post as an insult or accusation of anyone else who uses social media. This post reflects my own sins and my own conscience, and I don’t assume that everyone else is like me. I do, however, hope this proves to be a helpful caution or nudge for those who struggle like me.
Social Media and My Sin
Over the past year, I’ve tried pulling back on social media consumption. First, I took a personal inventory of how and why I used social media. Then, I took a week off from social media, which helped me reconsider how important social media really was to my life. That week off helped tremendously, and helped bring back some sanity.
However, none of these measures helped, ultimately, because social media has been an idol for me. It’s been good in some ways—I’ve made friends and received work because of it—but it’s still an idol. An idol is an idol, even if it provides some nice benefits. Two main issues have pushed me to this point.
First, I’ve built a relatively small but solid followership on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I’ve allowed those connections to feed my innate fear of man and desire for approval. I’ve often lived day-to-day spending more time looking at “likes” and “retweets” than looking my own family in their eyes. As a writer, I want to be on social media because it’s the best current avenue to promote my work. But the trade-off of the self-promotion and connections is that I’m feeding my fleshly desire for attention, sacrificing time with those I should be serving, and even sacrificing the quality and amount of helpful writing I could be doing. Oh yeah, and I have a PhD dissertation and book to write for B&H Academic.
Further, social media feeds my propensity to be cynical and contrarian. There are several people who I dislike because I judge them based on (real or perceived) flaws exposed on their social media feeds. Frankly, I don’t want to think the worst of people, and Twitter in particular is the only place I feel this tendency on a consistent basis. Off social media, I’m generally joyful and accepting. On social media, I’m generally annoyed and dismissive.
To sum up all of this: I’m least like Christ when I’m using social media. And I’ve finally decided to take Jesus’s caution seriously, and cut out my own social media eye rather than lust over the approval and acclaim of others (Mark 9:43ff).
If this is not a temptation for you, then I’m grateful for that. But my own conscience, I believe by way of the Holy Spirit, is speaking clearly to me. I need to step away. And those closest to me—my wife, my church elders, and my closest friends—have been helpful in working through this with me. Soul care is more important than platform care, and frankly, I’ve been trying to serve both masters. Deleting social media accounts won’t fix my sin issue, but like any temptation, it’s a good idea to get rid of it rather than continue to indulge, hoping it won’t tempt me anymore.
So, soon and very soon, I’ll be deleting all of my social media accounts.
What will change most about my life, I imagine, is that I’ll get hours back each day that I can use more efficiently. Otherwise, not much will change. I still plan to write, and indeed hope to write more. I enjoy writing here at Patheos in such a diverse digital neighborhood, and I also hope to write more at the Center for Baptist Renewal and with my friends at The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, He Reads Truth, and others. These places are open doors for me to submit posts and articles, and I’ve not been diligent to take advantage of them.
This blog will become more of a hub for me. As I said, I hope to write here more, but I also will likely occasionally share personal updates for those who care. Social media has been that place for me, but I’d rather keep things in one place.
The primary benefit of social media that I’ll miss is conversations and interactions. Social media, at its best, is second to none on this front. So I’ve devised a few ways to hopefully keep in touch:
I’d love to hear encouragement, critique, concerns, or other thoughts via email. Email me anytime at ChurchGrammar@gmail.com.
My blog has a newsletter which sends an email to let you know when I’ve posted a few new items. I’d love for you to keep up with me this way. You can sign up here: Church Grammar Newsletter.
This blog also has an RSS feed (what blog doesn’t?), if you use Feedly, etc.: Church Grammar Feed.
I’ll try to interact with kind or constructive comments in the comment section below. Drop a comment, but at least try to be civil!
See y’all out there,