I did something I thought I’d never do. I took Facebook app off my phone, not because I wanted to, but I buckled under the challenge put before me by my husband and our friends over lunch.
We were recounting our take-aways from the Family Life Marriage Encounter weekend (an awesome opportunity), and reflecting on the time-consumers that keep us from engaging in a meaningful way, not only with our spouse but also our children. Guess what was the top of the list for three of the four of us? Yes, social media, and, in particular, Facebook, on our phones.
We each agreed that it was time to start using our smart phones as the tools they were intended for rather than a source of distraction.
In unison, we hit the mighty delete button before leaving our lunch. I confess, however, thatI found myself picking up my phone to mindlessly scroll Facebook only minutes after getting in the car. And when I walked in the door. And when I sat down on the coach. The app was gone but my brain hadn't yet figured it out. That’s called the dopamine loop effect, where a chemical in our brain makes us want more and more . . . and causes us to continue looping in a cycle of behavior. Thus, the addiction is formed. And, like a person addicted to drugs or alcohol, in search of the next fix, I was irritated by both the absence of my drug of choice and irked by the reality that I indeed had a problem.
Within a couple days, the stronghold of my culturally acceptable addiction began to wain and something else began to grow within me. Peace. Calm. And even a bit more joy.
I could no longer mindlessly check Facebook . . .at a traffic like or in line at a store . . . or when I didn’t feel like doing the next task in front of me. My brain finally had time to be quiet, thoughtful, reflective and my heart was set free from the triggers caused by scrolling through one-dimensional images of seemingly perfect lives right alongside pleas for prayer from desperate souls in need of a miracle.
Think about it. How often do you walk away from your time on Facebook (or any form of social media) feeling different than before you logged on . . . like jealous, discontent, hurt, insecure, afraid, guiity, worried? Maybe you’ve felt momentary joy, but did it last? Or a sense of connection, but was it only one-sided?
Trust me, I love Facebook for the way it makes keeping in touch with friends across the miles so much easier. But with every bit of good it offers, there is bigger issue to contend with.
Social media is an addictive mood altering experience.
Thanks to the dopamine loop, we want more of what feels good, even if it destroys us and the life as we know it. We get that hit off using social media as we’re tethered to our screens, meanwhile, it’s the time on the screens, that is actually destroying part of our souls and our in-real-life relationships without us even realizing it’s happening.
We’ve unintentionally made room in our lives for screen time and virtual social connections, but in the process we've allowed second-best community to take up residence in our hearts, draining us from being able to engage with the community we've already been planted in . . . our families and friendships, with our co-workers and church family. And then we wonder why we feel all alone. Why we feel sad. Why we feel like everybody else’s life is better than ours.
We wonder why the Millennial generation is suffering with anxiety and depression more than any other generation, and are devastated by the increase in suicide rates.
Because we’ve allowed technology to become the thing we’re in relationship with rather than the tool it was intended for — to make a phone call, send a message, and check a calendar before booking an appointment.
We’ve allowed social media it to numb our hearts with mindless scrolling and fill our souls with more content, more needs, more stories, more dreams than we're ever meant to handle.
Mamas, it’s time we put our screens and social media back where they belong — as tools to manage life, instead of managing us. It’s time to be #socialFREE for our own emotional and spiritual sanity, while seeking to model for our children how to make social media and screens find healthy place in our lives as the tool they can be, but not the soul drainer they often are.
But maybe you don't think you're addicted? Maybe you feel like that's not your problem. Maybe you think it's not influencing your relationships and impacting your parenting. Maybe you doubt that it will ever have a negative effect on your children. Well. Maybe you're right. Maybe you don't have an issue with social media or screens. But just in case you do, head over to moretobe.com/social-media/ and read the statistics and make sure you, and your children don't become one.
While you're there, grab the Seven Strategies for Navigating Social Media and Screens with Your Tweens and Teens resource.
Friend, we're in this together. Let's influence a generation to live #socialFREE.