by MaryKatherine Black
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here.
Three billion people use social media daily for an average of two hours a day. If you haven’t heard an endless pitch about why social media is the monster of our generation, you might be living under a rock. It’s no secret that mental and social health is affected by the portal to digital connection that we constantly hold in our hands, but I don’t think of social media as the bad guy anymore. I think I am.
I developed a deep disdain for social media as I began to see my peers obsess over their virtual identity of carefully assembled images. I revolted by scarcely posting and sharing my life, not wanting to be sucked into the vortex. I didn’t know how to be healthy in that area, so I shied away. That proved to be ineffective. Trying to avoid social media because of its dangers was like avoiding cars because of bad drivers: it’s just not how the world works. Plus, everyone is on the road.
As carriers of the gospel message, it’s crucial that we lean into every area of culture that allows us to interact with people. Here are three ways to be healthy while remaining plugged into the digital world.
Do you own your time on social media or does it own you?
2 Peter 2:19 says, “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” Peter was referencing an ancient slave law and metaphorically explaining that when a person is overcome by a desire or habit, they become a slave to that desire or habit.
Social media can easily become a master to us. It can quickly swing from being an asset to us, to being a detriment or distraction. You might be “mastered” by your phone if...
• You find yourself in a mindless scroll and are shocked by the time that has passed when you look up from your phone
• You recognize in yourself a critical or evaluative spirit when seeing other people’s posts
• After waking up in the morning, you spend the first 10-15 minutes of your day scrolling but you don’t have time for other things you desire to do like spend time with God, exercise, or make a healthy meal
When one of these occurs, take a moment to re-define your master.
We’ve all seen it.... the “Instagram Fast.” Many of us have done it, in some fashion. But when I find myself mad at social media or thinking about “fasting” from Instagram, I’m actually mad at myself for not managing my own time better. Instagram isn’t the problem. My time management is the problem.
Filler moments happen everywhere. They happen in line at the grocery store, on lunch break, and waiting for your pasta to cook. Research shows the average person will spend years of their life waiting in lines. Most people don’t know where those minutes drift away to—I sure didn’t know until I began tracking my filler moments. Picking up my phone was a reaction to understimulated moments of my day.
Now that I’m cognizant of my propensity to go straight to the screen, I deliberately choose how I spend my minutes. Sometimes I still choose to see what everyone’s up to online, but now instead of automatically pulling up my phone I give myself other options. I can type an encouraging, out-of-the-blue text to a friend, slowly chip away at a page of a Kindle book, or pray. I get to pick! But if I choose to scroll, I’m not upset with the app. I have a good time on social media and I don’t feel guilty. Grabbing the phone is now a choice, not a habit.
How do you spend your filler moments?
Instead of trying to log onto social media less, log on with intention. The online exchange of communication is not inherently a good or bad thing. Every exchange can be positive, negative, or neutral.
Posting allows us to give something. Our posts can either be an ego-driven attempt for affirmation, or they can be an expression of the gospel at work in our lives. Instead of posting less, post more content that will build faith in those who see it and spur them on. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, advises Philippians 4:8. Post about such things, too.
Scrolling allows us to receive something. Our home page can either be a place to judge people we follow, or it can be a place where we follow who will feed our souls, ingenuity, and connection. I follow a number of teachers and mentors who inspire and motivate me, and appreciate their wisdom sprinkled throughout my day.
Let’s take ownership of our relationship with social media and stop blaming the apps for our own lack of self-control. Let’s be deliberate to utilize well a device that can communicate the goodness of God at work every day!
MaryKatherine Black is a fashion entrepreneur (Yellow The Label) and newlywed living in Southern California. Connect with her on social media at @marykatherineblack.