For the month of March, I plan to take a sabbatical from certain social media platforms, namely Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. Recently, I've realized that these platforms do more harm to my mood than good. This might not be the case for you, and if so, that's good. But for me, I have noticed that I'm grumpier, angrier, and more fed up with people—mostly people that I don't even know!
It seems impossible to view my Facebook feed, watch a Youtube video, or scroll through Twitter without being confronted by angry comments, political ranting, or hopeless arguing back and forth between opposing sides. It really brings me down.
Rarely does spending a lot of time on the internet bring me happiness. And while I can't give up social media and the internet altogether, I have decided to take some time away. If you're interested, here's what I'm hoping to achieve:
Joy & Happiness
Near the end of his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul encouraged the church to change their mindset in order to develop a spirit of joy and happiness. He said,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(4:8)
Granted, you can find stories and posts on the internet that are true, noble, and lovely, but you have to look pretty hard!
Instead, during my one-month sabbatical I plan to focus on literature, good music, art, and real-life conversations with close friends. These “things” are all good to think about and I have a feeling it will bring a sense of joy.
Kill My FOMO
Ever heard of FOMO? That's the “fear of missing out.” A lot of the reason I find myself stuck to Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter is because I'm afraid I'll be missing something big.
Years ago, before the internet, no one had much of an idea of what was going on on the other side of the state, let alone the other side of the world. What concerned people then was simply the things going on in their own lives and in the lives of their close friends and family.
By taking a purposeful sabbatical from social media, I'm practicing faith that God is still in control, and he can handle the messy world of social media without me.
Better Time Management
I'll admit it, I spend too much time looking at social media. I wish it wasn't true, but social media provides a lot of distraction. I'll often start browsing through Facebook or Youtube because I was looking for a specific video or post, and then realize that 30-45 minutes have gone by. I know I can manage my time better than that.
In Psalm 90, Moses asked God to “…teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom” (12). Moses made this request just after noticing that the span of human life is like a “sigh” to God. Even 70 or 80 years is not very long. I know I can rest more, accomplish more, worship more, and love more when I'm disconnected from digital media.
Rebuild My Attention Span
Is it just me, or does constant exposure to social media platforms like Youtube destroy our attention span? According to MedicalDaily.com, the average attention span has recently shortened to 8 seconds. EIGHT SECONDS!
I'll admit that I find it difficult to sit through movies and TV shows like I used to. I have trouble staying focused when reading a book, and I bristle at the thought of watching any Youtube video that is longer than three minutes. Something is definitely wrong here.
I'm hoping that my short sabbatical will begin the process of recreating my attention span, allowing me to read books and focus my thoughts without constant interruption.
- What about work stuff? I will continue to use email for work purposes (largely 9am – 5pm) and use the internet to search the web for resources related to writing sermons, etc.
- How will people get in touch with you? I will still be available by text (for friends) and email (for friends, co-workers, and associates).
- What about your blog and podcast? I will continue to record and post a weekly blog and podcast automatically via Buffer, an automatic posting service.
- Which services are you avoiding? Specifically, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.
At the end of the month, I plan to reflect and record the way I feel. I will let you know if the experiment worked.