Today, in the past 24 hours, how much time have you spent on social media? How long you do linger over the news on the internet, all the while clicking on the adds, the promos and the links…the eternal, never-ending links for the “up- next- breaking- news” items? Let me put it this way: are you an addict of the media? Are you losing touch with reality because of always thinking about or looking at the hot topics on the social media?
In Spanish social media is called the “redes sociales” or the social networks. There are an infinite number of people, places and things that you can connect to via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. But, what are you stealing time from to spend that time on the networks? Who is missing out on your personal interaction and your personal discussion because you are handcuffed to the social networks?
A friend sent me a funny but very telling image on “Whatsapp” recently (yep! I got it from a social network!). The image tells a sad truth. That is: we need to free up time from the social media, from the news broadcasts, from the blogs and podcasts and the constant flow of information that bombards our minds each day! We need to break away from the habitual diet of music, commentaries, entertainment and the ever-growing information highway. But when (and if) we do what will you fill that time with? In other words, how will you “renew your mind” (Rom. 12:1)?
The image above points to a sad truth for our teens and young adults…and not a few older adults that I know! Phones, iPads, tablets and computers are great tools. But they can control you! The Spanish text above the image states “…and leaving their nets, they followed Him.” In other words, leaving behind the “social nets” (“redes”), you and I can more possibly follow Christ with undivided attention. Do you and I benefit from the social media? Of course. Do you and I live attached to social media? More than we want to admit.
Here are a few suggestions that I would like to encourage you to try…maybe you will begin to break a habit and build new, healthier ones, while also blessing and encouraging others.
- Take the extra 10 or 20 minutes you would have dedicated to Facebook and call a friend or a brother in Christ. Ask how you can pray for him or her. And then, pray right there on the phone for him/her!
- Read two or three extra chapters in the Word of God, followed by opening up a notebook and writing down the thoughts and lessons learned. Make time to process and to capture what the Lord is saying to you.
- Open up a new book on your Kindle, and start reading it. Rather than looking all over Amazon or “Best Buy” to find your favorite gadget or new accessory, look for a biography of a missionary, of a person God worked through in some special way, and examine her or his testimony. Learn from the victories and the mistakes of others.
- Put a good symphony on your sound system, fix yourself a cup of herbal tea and sit and talk, face to face, with your spouse or son or daughter or friend. Leave the digital talk behind momentarily and practice talking face to face. You will really enjoy it! Even if it seems awkward at first.
- Listen to each other, rather than just “texting” or imaging each other. Focus on the moment, on the heart feelings, on the heart attitudes of your family and friends. Open yourself up to their input and then bless them for what they share with you.
Our intake of social media and digital communication need to be limited. That is true of any good thing. Too much dessert is not good for your sugar levels or the fat intake. But an occasional brownie with ice cream is a treat. Likewise let your use of and time in front of the screen be brief and specific.
As Solomon so aptly instructs “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth” (Proverbs 17:24, NASB). Let your focus be on that which you can best touch and respond to, not on those things or people or events that are “at the ends of the earth!”
David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.