For the last week I’ve been unplugged from social media completely. No facebook. No twitter. No instagram. No checking in, liking, +1’ing, retweeting, favoriting or anything else. Not only that, but as I drove this week I chose to do so with no music, talk radio, podcasts – nothing. It was a week of silence. And it was pretty awesome.
Now, before I tell you briefly what I learned, I should point out that we just finished up a series called “Unplugged” at STORYCHURCH and this was a challenge we gave our whole church to complete. If you want to know more, you can check out the series here.
Anyway, here’s a few things that this experience showed me:
1. I’m still alive. And as far as I know, so is everyone else. I think a lot of times we want to believe there are a lot of important things happening online, but the most important things that are happening are the little people getting older every day in my own home.
2. I’m a little bit disturbed by some of my habits. In preparation for this, I removed bookmarks from my browser, and moved all my social media apps on my phone to a distant back page. I found out that I click open my web browser and immediately hit the Facebook tab all the time – even when I don’t care or had no intention of going there. It was simply a habit. Same thing with my phone. The first few days I constantly pulled out my phone whenever I had a free moment and went to check twitter. Not seeing the apps was a sudden reminder each time that I had some crazy habits.
3. These social media companies are just that – companies. By the third day I started getting emails from Facebook and Twitter about all the “important” things I was missing online. The truth is, they are terrified of customers (yes, that’s what we are) losing interest. They want to keep us engaged so that their numbers stay up, so that they can then charge top dollar for ads. I’m ok with that, because they should be able to make money by offering me a free service – but let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s all driven by money.
4. Finally, I feel like God was teaching me contentment. The truth is that a lot of social media is looking at other people on their best days. It’s their perfect picture, their well thought out funny line, their carefully crafted tweet, the highlight of their day. And all I see is my frustrating day, my painful conversation, and the awkward person I see in the mirror. Whenever I’m comparing my worst to other people’s best – I find myself longing for their life, their ministry, their experiences, their results.
So all in all, it was a pretty great experience. I won’t be bailing out of social media forever, but I do think I’ll re-enter with a fresh perspective. I think I’ll probably continue to make social media a little further out of reach on my computer and devices.
Have you ever gone “Unplugged?” What do you think the balance of all this should be?