The Covid Pandemic and quarantine have reshaped lives and schedules. No one has been immune. And thankfully, there has been Facebook and other social media outlets to see what’s going on in the world and stay connected.
But don’t let social media rob you of this time to do really valuable things.
Of course, there can be value in social media interaction, but let’s face it, too often we reach for the phone out of habit or because we’re bored. In some ways, we’re not using Facebook, it’s using us.
I’ve been reading Digital Minimalism, Choosing A Focused Life In A Noisy World by Cal Newport and it’s brought to light some very important issues regarding my own personal use of social media and the time I’m draw to it.
Some stats say that people are looking at screens up to 6-7 hours per day and on social media two hours per day!
One takeaway for me is the high level of addition that comes with checking social media. Here are the two maddeningly appealing aspects, according to Newport:
- Intermitent Postitive Reinforcement
- Drive for Social Approval
As an example, when Faceboook began (back when it was thefacebook.com) you couldn’t even respond with a “like.” It was all about staying connected to other people and their lives. Just a couple years back, they changed the layout and the notifications number was still the Facebook “blue.” But when they changed the notification button to the color of red – an alarm – clicking skyrocketed overnight!
I’m not only picking on Facebook because it’s a process used by every single app, website and developer. Their overarching desire is not connection to each other, but “How can we get the user to invest as much time as possible and stay as addicted as possible to checking as often as possible?”
They offer all kinds of intermittent rewards and levels as you utilize their service. It’s like pulling a slot machine handle each time you open your device. The unpredictable number of likes, hearts, comments and engagements draws us to our devices all day long with the power of gravity.
In all, these two incredibly powerful forces of positive reinforcement and drive for social approval have an impact on our brains. We no longer are checking because it’s vital or adding value, we’re checking our phone every few seconds at the expense of close relationships, potential project completion, incredible creativity, eye contact and deeper value in our work, life, play and rest. And we seemingly can’t help it.
In short, Social Media has us believing all the value is there.
It may sound like it, but I’m not against social media – I’m smack in the middle of it. (@timpriceblog @goharvest @troyumc) There are good aspects and they can be used wisely.
But, after reading this book, I’m against getting into that kind of addicted loop at the expense of the most valuable things in life.
After reading this book, I’m against getting into that kind of addicted loop at the expense of the most valuable things in life.
I don’t want social media dictating to me what is most important. When I need to spend time with family, work on serious projects, accomplish something I’ve needed to do at home, I don’t want to have social media addictions derailing me. I don’t want to pick up my phone jerk reaction and mindlessly scroll through the same stories over and over again then refresh to see what I might have missed since 45 seconds ago.
The alternative is to set your values first then determine the amount of allowance you will give to your device and the apps available.
A few disclaimers – if you’re using social media for work or if you need email on your phone for business, don’t just take it all off at the peril of making a living, but learn to add constraints based on what is critical vs what is merely convenient.
I am thankful that we are able to utilize social media to reach out and minister through church during this season. That’s an example of social media serving us! Each Sunday at 10:00 am, we are leading worship in our community on Facebook Live. Additionally, each day at 4:16 pm (CST) members of our church staff are sharing briefly. It’s awesome.
On a personal note however, there are some things I need focus on – reading, praying, teaching, coming up with creative ideas, daily ministry and work through Harvest, talking with my spouse and family, playing some games in the evenings, writing, planning for our church, and taking care of a things around the house. One small goal we have before the quarantine is over is for our whole family to memorize the books of the Bible in order, Pslam 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. We’ve created this card to use during our meals together to accomplish this. Those are my main things – and anything related to digital life and phone should just fill in gaps, not drive the agenda!
If you are at all interested, pick up a copy of this book – the first chapter alone is fascinating and eye opening.