Person or Pixels…6 Tips on Keeping Social Media Healthy

Sometimes it’s difficult to let go. It’s so easy to fall into this pit of life that is entitled “the world”. There are so many things that are competing for your attention. There are sports, hobbies, sweets (yes, I did say that), boys, and of course: social media. Social media pretty much takes all of those things and amplifies them to a whole new level of obsession. It’s a never ending cycle I am quite guilty of. Sometimes you feel threatened that if you don’t go on Instagram or Twitter, you are going to miss out on a slice of life. But here’s what is funny, pretty much everything on social media has absolutely NOTHING to do with us. As we scroll and scroll and scroll, what are we actually doing to ourselves? Infatuations turn into visual obsessions. Obsessions turn into idols. Now I am not saying I don’t support social media, because I fall prey to scrolling all the time. Of course it’s interesting. I am not going to lie to you and say that it isn’t fun. I can easily get lost in everybody else’s business like it’s my job to stalk. I seriously envy the days when people found it easier to talk face-to-face instead of through edited images supplemented by short and choppy sentences. Why is it that we infatuate ourselves with meaningless pictures? When you are done scrolling (which usually accidently turns into thirty minutes of hard core stalking), what did you seriously gain from the experience? I’ll tell you:

An empty void of nothingness accompanied by an air of jealously and comparison.

That’s not always the case, but it certainly happens a lot.

Alright, now before you shake your fist at me for not recognizing its good uses, I totally support social media when it is used to spread good messages and encouragement. Just read my tips below and you’ll see what I mean. Social media in the appropriate daily dosages CAN be healthy. It helps you keep up with relationships and keep in touch with long distance friends. However, when the inevitable comparison game comes into play, that’s when things get hectic. See, social media tries to trick us into thinking that life is found within the expanse of our phone and computer screens. But hey- here’s a fact: life is ONLY found in the life God planned specifically for YOU. It most likely isn’t confined to your phone alone. Social media may play a role, but the plot in the production entitled “YOUR LIFE” comes from Jesus Christ and the freedom and love He lavishes upon you everyday are a part of the script! That is not a script I would want to edit.

Look, friends are amazing. I’m not saying that following what your friends are up to is bad. I’m talking about the gazillion other posts around your friends that tend to be people you barely know but wish you did. You know who I am talking about. The people you follow because you wish you were them. Or had their boyfriend. Or clothes. Or beach house. Or life in general. This only facilitates the growth of other idols. So how do we keep from going off the deep end? You don’t have to eliminate it from your life, I promise. Here are a few tips that might help you keep both your sanity and social media savvy self in tact- but in the right ways.

  1. Follow for friendship- not envy. That only gets you down. How many times have you been scrolling and gotten tangled up in a mental battle of comparing yourself to some other girl who seems to have it all. What is comical is that she probably is doing the exact same thing- maybe even to you! Everyone has things that they secretly want- regardless of whether or not it looks as if they have it all. Trust me, there is a lot going on beneath that picture filter.
  1. Find alternatives to consuming yourself with it. Stay busy. People use social media to post about their lives and how great they are. What if you lived an amazing life full of fun and joy without feeling enslaved to post about it? Isn’t THAT freedom? Live your life! Try adopting a new hobby like art, cooking, or writing. You may just discover another God given gift. Spend time with your friends- doing FUN stuff. DO check Pinterest for fun ideas! That is one of my favorite social networking sites because it isn’t about bragging- it’s about dreaming. Dreaming with God by your side is a fun thing to do. Also, don’t forget about volunteering! Volunteering is a great way to spend your time face to face (for a change) helping those in your community who need it. It is also a super self empowering activity. If you ever feel down about some post that lowers your self esteem, look to God to find your worth- then put that worth in action!
  1. Don’t be afraid to post about your faith or use a Bible verse as a caption. If you are afraid of being judged by others, then they aren’t truly your friends. Friends are there to support you, not take you down based on your beliefs. Another cool way to incorporate your love for Jesus with social media is to follow Bible Verse accounts that give you daily encouragement. Also, it’s really fun to start one. I made one (@spiritualstrength) on Instagram and it has served as a great way to enhance my faith through inspiring others. When you find purpose in worldly things, that’s when you can start taking them and whipping them around for Jesus’s favor. Be a light in a world that insists on being dark. It’s pretty cool and not to mention fun to make edits of verses!
  1. Monitor the time. Try not to make a habit out of checking social media every time you pick up your phone. For most of us, it may be too late- including myself. I have to constantly tell myself to just let whatever is happening happen. In terms of managing your time on social media, letting go of this habit can give you a lot more free time during the day. According to a study done by a marketing company, the average American spends over three hours A DAY on social networking sites. What if those three hours were spent on being PRESENT in the moment? What if we committed ourselves to dedicating more time to face-to-face relationships? Most of the time we are on social media is ironically in a place filled with other people. Try talking to your siblings or parents instead of tuning them out. In class, when you sit down at your desk, turn to the person next to you and talk instead of burying your face in your phone. You may meet a new friend- the right way. There is something so special these days about the rare eye contact harboring conversations. I am guilty of all of the previous scenarios, but I am trying my best to pay attention to other people and not just be a bump in the log. The other day I noticed in class before the bell rang that the entire room was filled with students. No one was saying a word to one another. Apparently the fantasyland of the Internet was more interesting. I literally had to poke my friend to start a real conversation. It’s a process- let’s accelerate it.
  1. Use it for causes you care about! Since everyone looks at it so much anyway, why not promote a cause you care about? You may just spark interest in your friends too. And sometimes, even if you don’t ever know it, you may just inspire someone you barely even know (we all have followers we half know, don’t even try to pretend that’s not true). Who cares what that girl did on Spring Break? It is a lot more fun raising awareness for something you care about.
  1. Recognize the power you have in this world through your posts. Social media, aside from being typically seen as a curse on this generation, is a huge blessing! Did you know that due to the power of the Internet and social media, the world connectivity is so great that the majority of the entire world can find a way to discover Jesus? You could start that relationship! All it takes is one post. And one person. Do not underestimate your potential power on social media. You may, without even knowing it, be the one who encourages a depressed girl somewhere far away on the planet that she has worth and a valid purpose. That’s right- you can live out your life like Christ in a way that transcends international boundaries. Take a chance and change a life.

So what is your choice? Let go. Just let it go. Despite my Frozen reference, remember that social media is NOT God. Your life is about Him and Him alone. He loves you so much! More than you could ever comprehend! Don’t make the mistake of putting worldly things on a pedestal above Him. You might not even realize that you are doing it. That’s the scary part. Just take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities at least once a week. Make sure Jesus, your Lord and Savior is always way above every tweet, status, or post. This is so that when you do use social media, you can find the strength to keep everything in perspective- by focusing on its good uses. Aside from that, just hold this verse close:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

-2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

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