My Social Media Sabbatical

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.

FAQ

  • 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.

13 thoughts on “My Social Media Sabbatical”

  1. I agree with you for all of the reasons you’ve listed and a few more.
    I’ve also tried to take a sabbatical from FB but I was quickly reminded that LP relies largely on FB specifically. We have the LP Family page, the Care Ministry, the Children’s Ministry, The Bible Study(which I’m considering taking down since people have expressed that it’s just another page for them to keep up with), Active Faith, Connect Women’s Ministry, and I may have missed something. I realized that I can’t take a break from FB when the Care and Children’s Ministries are both dependent on their FB pages to operate.
    As great as FB has been for LP, and society in general, to keep up with each other, especially when there has been an emergency or a need, I fear that as a society we have lost the art of simply enjoying one another’s company in person.
    I have one friend who’s door is always open to me, her kids are always happy to see and rough house with me, and there’s always a hot cup of coffee and a good, real, conversation waiting for me. I can’t help but feel that we need to work on having more real relationships like this one and spend less time on the ones on social media where we only see what the people we’re chatting with or who’s posts we’re reading wants us to see.
    Sorry, I’ll jump off of my soap box now.

    1. Hi! Thanks for reading and replying!

      I don’t know who “reminded” you that LP has a bunch of FB groups and pages, but please don’t feel any pressure to stay on FB just for that reason. There are a lot of other ways for people to communicate. I do see the value of FB for our church community, but I tend to get sucked into a lot of other negativity that does not involve the church family. So for me, this is just a time to “purge” my mind of some of the negativity associated with current culture, politics, etc. I’ll be back on FB in April, hopefully with a better ability to manage what I spend time looking at, etc.

      I agree that we need to balance real interaction with social media interaction. 🙂

      Thanks again for reading!

  2. I look forward to hearing how this experiment goes. I agree Social media can be distracting and sometimes maddening

  3. Pastor Phil,
    I think that is a great idea.
    I first got on Facebook just to be able to access the Lifepoint Family page, Care ministry page and Connect Women’s group page. I wanted to keep up with prayer requests and needs. But now I find myself browsing through pages of people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. And it is affecting my mood. I am retired and thought I was content with my quiet life. Until I see all the things others are doing and places they are traveling to. It brings out jealousy, discontentment, sadness. Maybe I need to avoid Facebook for a time as well.
    Linda

    1. Linda,

      It is funny how browsing through other people’s pages can affect your mood, isn’t it? I agree. I feel the same jealousy, discontentment, and sadness as you do. I’ll let you know how my experiment goes. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Phil

  4. Phil,

    When Art was sick and then passed away the use of Facebook was overwhelming to me and I have cut WAY back on using it. I don’t miss it when I am not on it. I know I probably have missed posts in the Care Ministry page and LifePoint Family but I had to weigh out the pros and the cons. If anyone from LifePoint really needs me to do anything or pray they can reach out to me by text, email or phone.

    I keep thinking I will be ok about getting back onto Facebook from time to time and I get on and the anger and annoyance boils up inside when I do. So I was really going to jump off anyway but you have pushed that button to follow your idea.

    March will be a new journey starting for me in some very important ways. So this is a good time to make the break. I will let you know how it goes. I guess our monthly meetings will no longer include Facebook poking around! LOL!!

    I stopped watching TV back in July. I have no TV services anymore. I am saving $100/month to cut that cord! I listen to music almost the entire time I am awake. Music makes me happy and makes my soul happy. Some songs make my heart just soar!

    So I am with you on this! 🙂

    1. It’s exciting to see what God is doing in your life right now. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Phil

  5. Prashant Chopde

    Interested in how this experiment goes..I agree with most of things you have expressed..looking forward to your results.
    I would say personally the negativity, anger, dis-satisfaction that I see on social media helps me pray better for issues, people and myself esp. to focus on what’s important and what our purpose is..

    1. Prashant,

      I think it’s great that the negativity drives you to prayer! I think that’s how it should be. I’m hoping that after my time away from social media is finished, I’ll have a clearer mind to see negativity for what it is and not let if overwhelm me.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Phil

  6. Pastor Phil –

    I often take time off for days at a time from social media specifically for the reasons you mention above and I can honestly say it makes me a happier and more enjoyable person to be around. My mood is lighter and I feel less “fomo pressure”. Good luck to you on this journey and I’m certain you won’t regret a minute of it!
    – Amy

    1. Hi Amy! I didn’t see your message before this. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’m going to do a write up on my experience and post soon.

      Blessings,
      Phil

  7. Pingback: 8 Rules To Keep You Happy & Healthly Online (Part One) - Phil Ayres

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