Social Media Jealously

I’m taking a break from social media. A few weeks ago, on all three of my main social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) I posted some version of these sentences:

Except for the occasional post, I'm taking a rest from social media. My heart is frazzled. If rehab goes well, I'll be back in November.

Bringing up my time away from social media on my blog, however, feels strange, perhaps even wrong. I almost feel guilty of what the Babylon Bee was making fun of in the article, “Man Live-Tweets Social Media Fast.” Their point was this: get over yourself.

Still, I thought I’d mention a few of the reasons for the break, not primarily because I think “everyone wants to know,” but because I thought it might help you think through your own usage of social media.

For the most part, the decision was motivated by three things. First, I was receiving so many updates and notifications that it was hard to function with the constant interruptions. And even when I wasn’t receiving notifications, I developed a strange, creepy desire to constantly check my phone. I felt this urge the second I woke up; I felt it while I worked; I felt it at home. I was beginning to have trouble concentrating. It’s difficult to measure, but it seemed to me that I was even reading my Bible with less and less thoughtfulness. It was terrible.

The second reason for the break was that I was beginning to resent the trivializing of all information that was taking place in my heart. As you scroll through your social media feed, you see both stupid cat videos and shootings. Personally, I don’t know if the human soul was meant to take in information that way; I know that I’m not able to do it.

The third reason for the break was the main reason. I found myself having a strange twinge of jealousy every time I opened a social media app. It was awful.

At its core, envy is the belief in an alternate “gospel.” It’s the belief that something other than Jesus will satisfy our deepest longings. It’s the belief that something—whatever it is—if we have it, it will let us “depart in peace.”

When I’m jealous of what I see in other people’s social media feeds—whether family stuff, or pastor stuff, or writing stuff, or exercise stuff, or big-house stuff, or whatever stuff makes me become jealous—I’m not believing the real gospel. Rather, I’m believing The Gospel of Stuff: if I have the right stuff, then I can depart in peace.

Do you know what event made me realize how badly I need a break? It was a book review, actually—one I posted a few weeks ago. Now, let me say this first. The book is a good book, certainly one worth reviewing. We even sell it in our church bookstore.

But let me tell you why I also wrote the review. In part, I wrote the review because I’d love to become friends with the two young authors who wrote the book. Moreover, I have a writing project that I’ve been tinkering with for the last 18 months, and I think it would fit perfectly with the same publisher that published their book.

Do you see where this is going? If I reviewed their book, well, maybe it would grease the publishing wheels a bit.

I suppose this motivation isn’t entirely wrong. After all, the wheels of publishing don’t turn easily. But I do know that the size of my desire for these things grew to a sinful proportion.

By the end of that Tuesday night, both authors had hit “like” to my Tweet about my review. It felt nice. When I saw the second author do that right before bedtime, however, I could hear Jesus say to me, “You have received your reward in full.”

Now, he didn’t actually say this to me, as though I saw a bright vision and heard an audible voice. But if God has ever spoken to me, I’d say that he did so then. Those words come from a sermon Jesus gave in Matthew 6. Jesus spoke them to some people who were trying very hard to earn the approval of others. And when they got it, he told them they’d “received their reward in full.”

So, I’m taking a month off from social media. My heart is frazzled and needs to heal. I’ll keep writing and posting things on my blog, but I need to spend some extra time repenting of sin and soaking in the gospel. By the way, I’m so thankful that when Jesus truly loves someone, he loves them enough to keep them from drifting away from himself, even if it’s only in subtle ways at first. Thank you, Jesus. 


[Picture by Kate Serbin / Unsplash]