I have a hard time waking up and in January my habit was to roll over when the alarm went off and scroll through Instagram with groggy eyes. Then, of course, I had to check Facebook and sometimes Twitter which I don’t even use consistently. Before I knew it, thirty minutes had gone by, my boys were waking up, and I was frustrated.
I wanted to read my Bible and pray during that first morning time and I wanted to be a little more prepared to see my boys when we were starting the day. So I issued myself a February challenge. During February I didn’t check social media from 10 pm to noon the next day. No instagram stories, no facebook scrolling (although I did use the pages app to post to the blog page), no wasting time reading captions. Now I’m not hating on social media, especially Instagram. I love Instagram. I have curated the people that I follow and I honestly learn a lot from it. But anything out of place is, well, out of place.
A few evenings, especially on ball game nights, I did cheat a little and check it after ten but other than that I stuck to my rule. It was so freeing and I felt like I gained back hours of time just from removing that distraction.
I also started reading The Life Giving Home in February. Sally Clarkson is one of my favorite authors, especially on motherhood, and she co-authored this book with her daughter Sarah all about the rhythms of home. In it Sarah speaks distinctly of the challenges that social media brings to our lives and how we can limit that. On page 38 of the book she states: “If my awareness of space is concentrated on a screen, my home will reflect the absence of my attention, my creativity, and ultimately, my love. How can I pray without ceasing and bring that prayer into every aspect of making home if I cannot focus on anything for more than five seconds at a time?”
It’s March now and I did lift my time restriction but I’m still settling into real working boundaries. I want to be able to post on Instagram in the morning or share a funny story or video but I don’t want to pick up my phone every time I walk through my kitchen or start my mornings scrolling.
My theme song this year has been “I want my hands in the work God has given me.” That means there’s a lot of looking little boys in the face and putting laundry in the dryer and making another snack. That means I want to be writing and drawing and doing the work during quiet time instead of wasting it scrolling on my phone. There’s only so much time and it matters how I use it.
Here are a few questions for social media usage that I try to consider.
- Is there someone needing face-to-face interaction with me? At night I want to be on social media less because I have a husband and marriage to nurture. I want to be looking my boys in the eyes and reading them stories and dealing with problems not staring at my phone. I want to be chatting with my friends and caring about their lives instead of looking at online lives.
- Am I ready to interact? Am I going to respond to comments? Comment on other people’s status? If I’m not, why am I getting on?
- Am I getting online with a purpose? Am I going to post something that I’m learning? Share a project? Upload a picture that makes me smile? Great! Go for it. But because I’m bored or frustrated with where I am at the moment? Not a good reason.
- Is there something better I could be doing with my time? Do I need to fold a load of clothes or write my grocery list? Should I be working on that day’s sketch? Then do those things. There will be more satisfaction in life if I’m actually accomplishing the work God has given me.
- Am I going for validation? How much do I care about the response? Am I only opening the app to see how many people have liked my picture or status? The internet is a dangerous place to go to measure my worth.
Social media has a place in my life. I’ve met some great people on the internet. But my hands in the work mostly means the work that’s in front of my physical body. I would like Jim Elliot’s quote, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God” to be my battle cry.