(Don't) Quit Social Media

(Don't) Quit Social Media

I, like many of you reading this, have a compulsive tendency to check social media in every spare moment. For me, the drug is Twitter.

I follow a lot of great people on Twitter — theologians, comedians, technology journalists. I find great links to articles, conversations that make me think and laugh, and important news relating to my job as a school technology director.

I get a lot of good out of social media, and you probably do too. That’s why the Quit Social Media bandwagon might be a little misguided.

Of course, we can get by without it. If you doubt that, remember you’ve done it before — all those years before 2005.

The question, though, isn’t can we? It’s should we?

For all of the good social media brings, there’s no doubt it brings a lot of harm. It reinforces our tribalist tendencies, in allowing us to filter out everything we don’t want to hear. It feeds the narcissism we humans already struggle with. It creates a vortex of rage that wraps people up, fueling fire after fire. And it makes it difficult for us to focus on the rest of life, by training our brains to crave short bursts of information, rather than the focused attention we desperately need in order to truly experience life.

So how do we get the good out of social media we desire, without falling prey to all of the ill? The solution, I think, is not to quit social media, but to control it.

Chances are, the good you get out of social media can be acquired in about 15-30 minutes of use. So why don’t you set aside 15 minutes in your day specifically to social media, and don’t check it at all the rest of the time. That way you see all of the interesting links, the cute pictures of cats, and the cousin’s wedding announcement, but it’s not ruling your day.

Doing social media this way means that when you have down time, it’s not drowned out by the internet rage machine, but is spent in thought, prayer, relaxation, work, or conversation with your spouse.

The average adult who uses social media spends two hours a day on it. Instead of spending two hours on something that fractures your ability to focus, reinforces tribal tendencies, and fuels the fires of anger in our culture, you could just spend 15 minutes getting the good you can out of it, then spend the rest of your time on things that are far more valuable.

Imagine how much better your life might be.

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