A recent survey says we all have on average 155 friends on Facebook but would only turn to four of them for help. Maybe we don’t all “like” each other as much as we thought. I love social media. I really do. But it has it’s limitations. And to see those limitations sometimes we just need to stop, take a step back, and go grab a coffee with a friend.
So here it is. I’m proposing we take a break from social media. Not completely. Just that we create some spaces in our schedule that’s dedicated to some offline face to face interactions. And I’m completely aware of the irony of saying we should take a break from social media on social media. I even hope that tons of people like and comment and share this post today on #socialmediaday and then shuts their phone off and goes out with a friend.
Most of us have been there. We step away for a day or so (or let’s be real, an hour) but wonder if our perceived fans might wonder where we went. They must know I’m good in [enter phase in life] with [enter friend, spouse, pet].
Or, there’s the dreaded F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) that creeps up with a middle-school type anxiety we thought was long gone. Or maybe you’re just a stalker that likes to check out what others are doing, without ever actually posting or commenting on anything. Regardless, most of us know we are dependent on having technology at our fingertips.
Let me tell you something: That’s not good. The truth is social media dependence affects our brains, productivity, relationships, and even life span on this earth (I’m being serious, click on the links and see.)
But for some reason, we keep going back to it like a drug. It tastes so good that our body and mind begins to crave that instant gratification and easy entertainment. So maybe you’ve said, for the 100th time, that it’s time to take a break. Maybe you’re aware of the negative effects it’s having. But you need a little extra motivation. Here are some real benefits of living beyond the virtual world and re-introducing that old term known as “real life.”
1. Real Connections
Think back on some of the greatest moments in your life. Did they involve real people and real events? As much as technology can try to imitate great moments, it is still a poor comparison to sitting down with someone or a group of people and really connecting, learning from each other, and truly laughing out loud.
We were created to be in community with one another, and when we do this, we fill a real need that can’t be supplemented.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Think back on some of the greatest moments in your life. Did they involve real people and real events?
Keeping up with the Joneses takes on an entirely new meaning when we add a social media highlight reel to the mix. You know what I’m talking about. It’s how whatever it is that you feel you are lacking is exactly the thing that keeps popping up on your Facebook, Twitter, and Insta feeds. Or it’s showing up in everyone’s stories on Snapchat, taunting you and dragging you into that dreaded comparison game.
You can avoid it by backing away from the social crack. Comparison can be toxic to our relationships and health. Remember that if you already struggle with comparison, it will only be exasperated on social media, so don’t keep feeding the monster. Rather, understand that everyone is fighting his or her own battle and there is an ultimate purpose behind it all. Taking a break from the virtual world and adding real connections will help you see that all people are broken and struggle with something.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30
3) Not Missing out – for real
The irony is that in the fear of missing out we are actually missing out! On real life.
When we are stuck on our devices, we stop taking in our surroundings, exploring, being creative and making eye contact with loved ones.
We try to capture every moment, so much so that we are missing the moment itself.
I may be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure that on our deathbeds we won’t wish we’d posted one more update or sent one last tweet. Check yourself, and don’t miss out on what really matters.
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall”. 1 Peter 1:24
4) Getting raw and helping people
In a world where filters abound, editing is the norm and angles are carefully calculated, seeing something that does not seem so “made-up” is rather refreshing. When we admit our failures and struggles, not only do we bravely go against the grain, but we also give others confidence to do the same. A sigh of relief, if you will, that we don’t have to have it all together and that, frankly, it shouldn’t be the expectation. When you get real, it stands out from the clutter. People listen. People receive hope.
It’s a real-life #nofilter.
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30
Look up. Look around. And then realize how disconnected we look when we’re sitting three feet across from one another and might as well be 3,000 miles away.
5) Be a real star
I’ve taken a quick inventory of the people that have made the biggest difference in my life. They are not the people with the biggest or coolest social media accounts, but those that cared and loved me the most. People that cared more about others than keeping up with a personal brand. Those that cared about the message they were delivering with their actions, more than just their words. The quiet ones. The ones set out to make an eternal impact.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all things in social media are bad. It gives everyone an opportunity to have a voice, whereas before only a select few could occupy the elite media space. But what do you think makes more of a difference in someone’s life: A 10-second Snapchat, or a 10-hour day spent learning, living, and listening?
Maybe you aren’t quite ready for a full social media detox. But think about taking small steps. Commit to going to dinner with a friend or your family and not checking your phone once. Look up. Look around. And then realize how disconnected we look when we’re sitting three feet across from one another and might as well be 3,000 miles away.
I think you’ll like what you find.
Marleny Wood coordinates the social media side of I Am Second but is currently off her phone with her son.