YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SOCIALLY AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME

Media distancing is difficult these days

When I was a young girl, the world was in turmoil. Civil Rights marches. Protests. Violence. The TV blared bad news all day. I had the sense that nothing was right in the world.

It felt like it does now. The only difference is we have more news sources, more ways of getting information, including social media. We can get the idea that we must be socially available all the time.

How about you? Do you feel the need to be socially available all the time?

To answer every notification?

Scroll three or four times a day? 

Infinite scroll allows us to endlessly swipe down through content.

“If you don’t give your brain time to catch up with your impulses,” Mr Raskin said, “you just keep scrolling.” ( A former employee of Facebook)

When scrolling our emotions can run through the gamut. One moment we are laughing, the next crying, the next depressed. It’s an odd sort of feeling we pick up. We can  pick up fear and panic when we didn’t have it two minutes before we opened the app.

You don’t have to be socially available all the time.

We feel as if it is our responsibility to be available all the time. 

Jennifer Lee says:

“Social availability has become our soul’s adversity.” 

We can buy into the lie that we must post, answer comments, and keep everyone updated on our lives and then do the same for them. It’s a farce, a fallacy, a ford we don’t want to cross. When we feel that we MUST do something, it then becomes our master and we are it’s servant. It becomes adversity we create all on our own. We can begin to think that social media is REAL connection. It’s not. It can be a ripple effect after we have relationships or connections. Social Media cannot replace human connection. Maybe that’s why some of us feel so out of sorts right now. We know:

  • Social availability or scrolling is not connection, relationship or education.
  • Scrolling, posting, photographing, reading and commenting is not living.
  • We also think we must stay on top of things by “checking” social media. What if we miss something?

Constant Social Availability is Harmful to Our Kids

Remember how I said my early childhood was? By the time I was in middle school, my mom had put the TV in the closet. REALLY. No TV. I spent the majority of my childhood without one in a time when the TV was the staple of every household. Was it a radical move on her part? Yes. Did I get teased and made fun of? Yes. Where my thoughts, foundation, and ways of navigating choices filtered by what I saw on TV? No.

My mom taking the TV away was a gift. I may have thought it was a curse at the time. I entered college basically TV- show- illiterate. Still to this day, I don’t understand some TV references. (I’ve never watched FRIENDS – just a few snippets – so I don’t speak the lingo). I have never watched most of the shows my peers digested as a regular part of their diet. I’m not bragging. We kids BEGGED for a TV. What’s the point? Media distancing practices are beneficial if done for the right reason. Mom didn’t want our minds poisoned by TV.  

Just a thoughtIt’s okay to make choices for our children’s sake. It’s okay to choose to limit social media, tv, news articles, news apps, newspapers, etc…

If we are more concerned about what friends (even church friends) or Aunt Betty say about our social media or TV restrictions  for our family, then we are looking towards man, not God.

Ask yourself – ten years from now, what will this matter? What are you feeding your mind and the minds of your children?

  • When we are distracted by social media, we are teaching our children to live a distracted lifestyle.
  • When we are too busy to look up from screens to engage, we teach our children that screens are more important than connection.
  • When we react with depression, anger, frustration, and fear, after looking/reading a post, we teach our kids that nothing is right in the world. 
  • When we react more quickly to the notification on our phone then we do to the kiddo’s request, we teach them devices are more important. 
  • When we tend to our devices more than we tend to our homes, we will be out of balance.

Here’s another way to look at Social media-

You wouldn’t indiscriminately go into anyone’s house, eat their food, listen to their worldview, absorb their theology, listen to their advice on every subject, so why go to them on social media?

Lately, I haven’t been on social media a lot. With the move to our new house, we have gained the limited ability to use wifi. It’s been an odd blessing during this season. I have to go into my office to get a signal. (So sorry to all of you who message me or comment on posts- I sometimes don’t get them for a day or two.) So, I’ve been socially distancing myself mentally and physically. I’ve taken to writing articles (here) on the website again. I’m staying in my own “house” on the world wide web as well.

Hopefully, as a result of this craziness, we will see  a rebirth of actual articles on websites. We can then choose whose “house” we go to for encouragement, edification, and information.

Just a thought – Maybe it’s time we stepped back and did some more thinking in our upstairs brain

We could camp out there, dust off the books and put our thinking caps back on. We can enter the land of literal, logical, and linear. We can leave the survival brain downstairs. We can leave behind the fight, flight, and freeze, reactions. 

Of course, I’m not bashing social media altogether. Just as in my house example, we don’t randomly run from house to house when we aren’t socially distancing, don’t run to everyone’s “house” on social media now. Here are three simple tips:

  1. Instead of scrolling, go to a page. If you are checking on family, just go to their page to see what they are up to today. If someone has been putting out some encouraging content during this time – go straight to their page. My favorite page during this season has been Marcy Holder. (She was on the podcast recently – find it here – scroll down to “Show Up for Your Own Life”). She’s a spiritually- focused coach. Every day, I feel as if her message of encouragement is just for me. 
  2.  Instead of checking notifications, turn them off. I don’t have mine on and even if I did, they wouldn’t work in my house. It’s too much of an emotional roller coaster to answer the ping. Just a thought – Did you ever think we’ve been trained by social media to respond? Like little mice, we run for the “food?” Let your friends and family know the best way to reach you, text, email, phone call, or snail mail.
  3.  Don’t get your news from social media and don’t believe all the news you see. PERIOD.  As Winnie the Pooh says -Think. Think. Think.

Frances Schaeffer said in How Should We Then Live:

“Actually TV manipulates viewers just by its normal way of operating. Many viewers seem to assume that when they have seen something on TV, they have seen it with their own eyes… For many, what they see on television becomes more true than what they see with their eyes in the external world.”  

Remember every minute of TV and social media news has been edited by someone with a subjective viewpoint. We are in essence, seeing the image someone has decided we should see. Media is manipulation. 

Again, I’m not saying social media is all bad. It’s a great time to pull back from all the extraneous use and think about the ways we are impacted. Just as I know going into random people’s houses is not a great idea, going into their “houses” indiscriminately on social media isn’t either.

I’ll end with the Message Translation of Psalm 1, I’m usually a die hard Amplified Bible girl, but this one made me laugh. And it fits the bill.

How well God must like you—
    you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
    you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
    you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.

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