Two and a half years ago I made the decision to turn off every single social media notification on my phone, computer, and tablet. I noticed myself spending too much time playing the “I feel left out” and “why doesn’t my life look like that” game. After my head injury I felt like the world was continuing without me. I never compared my life to others online until my injury, and being able to not physically do a lot of the things I was seeing online played a huge role in my self-esteem. I realized one day social media was gaining too much power over my life, so I changed this. It scared me how influenced I was by a photo or a caption. I would wakeup and reach for my phone first instead of my Bible. I started basing my worth on how many likes, comments, and replies I would receive. I started living for this digital validation instead of what really, truly mattered- God. I didn’t like how I was constantly refreshing, and thinking about what people would like (literally) to see from me. I started thinking about things to do during my days as what would be “Instagrammable”, instead of soul pleasing.
I realized I was using social media as an escape and it became a falsification for how I viewed my life. At the end of the day I wasn’t happy- no matter how great my engagement rate was that day. I was tricking myself into feeling content when the only way I can achieve peace is making the decision daily to seek Jesus. On the other hand, I used social media as a distraction for what was really happening at the time. The first few months of my injury I was struggling to adapt to my new reality. I put the “work” on the back burner and decided to ignore my thoughts and feelings with a distraction. I lived for the “ding” of my cellphone, and would become anxious when it was silent. I thought I wasn’t “good enough” if someone wasn’t constantly engaging with me online. I feared becoming irrelevant, but instead of tackling this fear head-on and changing the channel in my brain, I leaned into it. Sure, social media can be fun, but it can very easily become a toxic habit.
I own my technology- it no longer owns me.
Two years ago I wasn’t looking to go “off the grid”- that would be quite an extreme. Instead, in my realization, I created a manageable plan. The first step was to silence my notifications. This really helped me to calm down and be more in the moment. I still opened the app regularly throughout the day, but it became less anxiety filled for me. I quickly forgot about messages and comments because they weren’t appearing on my home screen. I guess that saying “out of sight, out of mind” works.
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Almost a year ago I took this practice to the next level by rounding up all my social media apps and placing them in a folder on the last page of my phone. Now, if I’m bored and reach for my phone, I’m faced with productive, encouraging, and positive apps to fill my time with. The only social media app I have on the homepage is Pinterest, which I mainly use for Bible journaling inspiration or writing prompts. Others on my homepage are classic apps such as the calendar, contacts, reminders, voice memos, phone, etc. I then made my “quick clicks” to be the Bible app, other spiritual guides, a daily devotional, my favorite church podcast, a blog home screen bookmark, and Spotify with my favorite podcasts and worship music saved.
When rearranging my apps, I did a massive clean out. I deleted all games, mindless, and time wasting apps. Deciding to approach my phone- my digital space- as I would my life, has impacted me in more ways than I could imagine. Every time I open and close my phone I’m refreshed instead of feeling defeated and unworthy.
I also continued this mindful practice on each social media platform and my laptop/ tablet- read the specifics, here!
Now, instead of all the time I spend online and curating content, I’m out living! I used to be on a strict Monday/Wednesday/Friday content development schedule where I would spend 8-12 hours researching, taking photos, looking at blogging trends, and marketing reports. Today, I spent the afternoon on a walk with my sweet friend Liz and her rescue pup Cheeto! This is much more refreshing than becoming a slave to technology and worldly things/ opinions.
It’s during this time when I feel the most connected to The Lord and the most like myself. I don’t have to have a certain amount of followers or write content every other day in order to be loved. Liz didn’t care that my Instagram feed isn’t aesthetically pleasing. She never once mentioned my Pinterest following or my newsletter. She showed up ready to be with me- not my social media. The same applies to God. There is nothing in the Bible static that the only way to enter heaven is by mastering social media and being online all day.
It’s days like this I’m extra thankful that two and a half years ago I wanted to change my thoughts and what I gave time to. If I were still sitting behind a screen I would have missed out on many deep belly laughs, stories, and the peacefulness of the wooded area.
It’s okay to put the phone down. It’s okay to take photos that aren’t shared online. It’s okay to silence your phone. It’s okay to not think about social media all day every day. Social media wasn’t always here and it might not be here again someday- what will be here are relationships and people.