Everyone uses social media. Facebook has become the new e-mail, Twitter the way to exchange ideas (or troll), and Instagram to share photos and stories. Other platforms have made their way into various subgroups of the population (WhatsApp, TikTok, Snapchat, etc.). Social media makes up the fabric of our world. Like it or not, social media will be our steady friend for some time.
Despite the reality of this online eco-system, not all uses of the eco-system are good, virtuous, or edifying. Many of us feel addicted, overwhelmed, or just plain exhausted because of social media. We feel trapped in a cycle of posting, checking, and waiting for updates. If this seems familiar (or even if it does not), consider these three tips to take back your life and put social media in its place.
Temporarily delete social media apps from your phone
Temporarily delete social media apps from your phone. Keep the accounts but only access them from your computer. That way, you can retain the benefits of social media (connections, relationships, etc.) while removing the temptation to check your phone every minute of the day. There simply won’t be anything to check. After a week or two, the habit of looking at your phone will hopefully have stopped (or at least have decreased). Add the apps back to your phone but continue not checking these apps every minute of the day.
Create private groups on social media to share family photos
Social media can provide a great place to share photos and anecdotes with family and friends. But posting family photos online may create social anxiety (What will people think? Do I look good enough?), and it can hurt your children in the long run. How many sixteen-year-olds would like to have their entire life splayed on the internet from infancy to teenage years? Few or none. Besides that, child predators can use these pictures for their sordid ends.
But there’s an easy solution. Create private groups for family and/or friends in which only those whom you want can see your pictures and anecdotes. That way, you can still use the platform but you restrict who can and cannot see your family’s information. Certainly, privacy restrictions on social media can help too. But a private group is the most specific and safe way to create space in which you can safely share family photos without suffering social anxiety, robbing your children of privacy, and avoiding insidious lurkers.
Avoid posting images to make yourself look good
Part of the pressure to use social media arises out of social anxiety. Humans desire esteem, and we do what we can to gain it. One way we do this is through what someone has recently called “curated imperfection.” We take perfectly controlled pictures of ourselves in our messiness to bolster our social ranking. Of course, not everyone is doing this when they post pictures of themselves. But admit it: we sometimes do this.
If we find ourselves posting images or posts about our lives to gain a feeling of acceptance, we’ve probably fallen into a trap of making people big and making God small. One of the most freeing aspects about the Gospel is that God declares his “yes” over us. We receive a unique status on the basis of Christ alone—in him alone. All external statuses take second place. Making God big and people small means that we accept God’s “yes” and let people’s “no” or “yes” be second to the judge of the earth.