As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the callings of my soul. -Wayne Dyer
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Sadie reluctantly forces her eyes open and fumbles with her phone until she manages to hit the Stop Alarm command. Taking a moment to orient herself, she yawns and picks up her phone again. She opens Facebook and scrolls through the posts. There’s not a lot of news; she checked her Facebook just before falling asleep last night at a little past midnight.
A notification from her Bible app pops onto the screen. It reminds Sadie of her plan to read through Psalms and the New Testament this year. She pushes the notification off her screen so it doesn’t cover her Instagram feed photos. I’ll quickly finish looking through Amie’s posts, then I’ll read the chapter in Psalms, she tells herself.
Fifteen minutes later, she’s startled to hear Mom yell, “Sadie?!?”
Quickly closing the Instagram app which she’d perused, Sadie pushes her covers away and gets up. I’ll read Psalms 46 tonight… and also the four other ones I’ve already missed this month, she consoles herself.
After getting dressed and doing her hair, she makes her way to the kitchen. Her phone is still in her hand, the screen alive with a funny cat video that a friend of friend shared on Facebook.
She’s vaguely aware of her mom and her little brother talking about the colors of the maple trees in the backyard, their goldfish, his upcoming spelling quiz. She murmurs, “You’ll do well with the quiz, Coley,” never taking her eyes off the cute puppy video she’s now watching.
Then her mom gasps, “We need to leave if you kids don’t wanna be late for school!”
Sadie gulps down her glass of OJ and hurries back into her room to get her backpack. Slinging it over her shoulder, she runs to the van and slides into the front passenger seat. She reaches for the Play button on the dash and fiddles with the dials until she finds the radio station that plays her favourite music. While listening to the lyrics, Sadie suddenly remembers something. Grampa! Sadie promised her grandpa she’d visit on Tuesday. Today is Wednesday.
Sadie sighs. She should’ve gone yesterday. But she’d forgotten. She’d been busy. Her friends and she had been planning the perfect shop-till-you-drop weekend on their online group chat.
Sadie sighed again. Maybe she could make it up to Grampa today. Then she remembered: her biology study group was working a a huge assignment and Sadie was in charge. She would have to spend tonight browsing the Internet to discover brilliant ideas for their project. And… she conceded guardedly, in the process of ransacking websites for biology project ideas, she’d probably run into other interesting stuff that’d keep her up till midnight.
Trying to dislodge the feeling of guilt welling up, she reached for the volume button on the dash and hiked it up another couple of notches.
If you’re anything like me, your days teem with noise. And I don’t just refer to music playing, cars revving, machines beeping, and people chattering. Beyond the ‘physical’ noise, there’s the voices screaming at us from social media, TV, and propaganda. To me it seems that this latter kind of noise is more disruptive than the first.
Don’t get me wrong; I like my Instagram, Facebook, etc as much as the next person. Through my social media, I can keep in touch with friends I couldn’t talk to otherwise. However, as with most good things, there’s a certain point where social media stops being a good thing. When the good things take the place of the important things, it’s time something changes.
For that reason, I deliberately quieted down my world for a week. My church had revival meetings from February 13-19, so I decided that was the perfect time period for my week of quietness. I went on a social media fast, logging off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. on Saturday. (Disclaimer: I did keep e-mail, WhatsApp, and a few other messaging apps for work and practical purposes)
I did this for several reasons.
First and primarily, social media takes up a lot of my time. Like the fictional character in my little story above, I spent too much time scrolling through my friends’ posts on various forums. While there’s a lot of useful information on the Internet, it’s really tempting and very easy to get lost in a chain of links. I might Google information about a camera tripod I’d like to buy, only to twenty minutes later find myself looking a Buzz-feed list of Funny Photos of the Year. While there’s nothing wrong in the Buzz-feed list itself, wandering on cyber bunny trails gets extremely time-consuming. Instead of doing that, I knew I could use that time to hang out with my family, pray for different people, read the Bible and other good books, and a lot of other important activities. During the week of my fast, I had time to pray for friends I often overlooked during my prayer time.
Our focus must be on God alone and not on those among whom we live.
Second, it was an effort to clear my thinking patterns. If all I see during the day are dreadful news stories, my friends’ ‘perfect’ Instagram photos, and arguments on Facebook and Twitter, what do I think about? It’s quite obvious. People think what they see and hear. It’s harder to concentrate on what I’m reading in the Bible if only minutes before I was reading about national elections or watching some silly video. So, for a week, I eliminated the influence of social media from my mind.
Psalm 1:2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
Third, I wanted to see if I could do it 🙂 And I did it! It wasn’t half as bad as I’d anticipated. In fact, it was rather fun! I’ll probably do it more times. At the very least, I intend to monitor my own screen time more strictly.
How do you deal with limiting your social media exposure? Please tell me in the comments section below.
Also, next month’s word is
And… feel free to suggest words I could use in future months; I have a hunch I might run out of ideas before the year is up 🙂 Blessings!