Stop Scrolling, Start Living

Hello, I’m Angel; and I’m a social mediaholic.

I’ve had a Facebook account since 2009, an Instagram account for my travels and everyday snippets since 2014, and another Instagram account as an art dump since early 2017. I’m running 13 Facebook pages, 4 of which are highly active; and I’m part of A HORDE of Facebook groups that I’ve already lost count.

On my personal Facebook page, I regularly post three times a day: one in the morning to share the gist of my morning devotion, one at noon to share a post from our personal ministry page, and one at night to share a random story or snippet from that day’s activity. Sometimes I post more than that, but I always make sure to pace them so that each post has a good amount of traction. I curate my Instagram feed, using a single look and feel for all of my photos, and trying my best to post one travel photo everyday; and I try to post as much IG stories as I can.

Last week, after eight years of being visible, noisy, and active on social media, I disappeared from everyone’s news feeds.

The decision point for me was this: I was too distracted by social media, both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t work for an hour straight without checking my Facebook account for notifications. I couldn’t sit still without scrolling through the Instagram stories of my friends. I couldn’t sleep without looking at who liked my latest post, and even came to the point that I deleted posts because it didn’t have any likes or reactions. Most surprising of all, I grew uneasy when I didn’t get the reactions that I wanted.

That’s why six days ago, I logged out of my Facebook, uninstalled my Instagram, and went on an indefinite hiatus.

I can’t say that I didn’t miss being able to post or to check everyone else’s posts. While re-watching Forevermore (the teleserye) during that period, I even found myself thinking of following Diego Loyzaga on Instagram and realizing I was on hiatus. Twice. Once, I had to log into Facebook because we were looking for a video from a public page; but I went straight to the page and didn’t mind the glaring red boxes on the familiar blue masthead. I missed being online and scrolling through photos and posts, but the reason for my hiatus weighed heavier on the balance than my own desires.

I didn’t want anything online to get to me to the point that I would be emotionally hurt or shaken. I didn’t want to be so hung up on the number of likes, loves, wows, or heart I get.

Beyond just re-wiring myself, I wanted God to re-wire me in such a way that I wouldn’t become more attached to social media than Him; that I would treat them as the avenues they are.

I started waking up earlier in the morning and found myself spending more time in devotion than usual. I reconfigured my work schedule and started coming in earlier. I was able to focus on my work tasks without the air of uneasiness hanging above me, without being worried or curious about how my posts fared. In short, I was still alive — and I was beyond being okay.

This experience re-taught me these things so far:

  • Social media is not the real world. It does not reflect who people really are, and what their genuine reactions and takes on matters are. Online, most of us are curated, edited, filtered versions of ourselves — so you can’t really take most of it too seriously.
  • Learn when to step back and when to scroll. A distraction only becomes a distraction if you allow it to become a distraction. Know the signs, see them, and counter them. When you give in to a distraction, it takes away your focus from the more important things… because that’s basically it’s job, right?
  • Never anchor the value of a relationship on how a person reacts to your posts. You will have trigger-happy friends who will like your posts as they come and go, but it shouldn’t diminish the value of people in your social media network who are part of your real life who rarely do so.
  • In the same way, never anchor your self-worth to your social media persona. You are the best version of you there currently is. If not, I hope that’s the version of you that you strive to be. In the end, the only genuine version of you there is in the world is the one who turns off your laptop or locks your phone — raw, unfiltered, maybe broken but still standing, fighting the battles ahead, or maybe patiently waiting on the Lord with joyful expectancy. That is the genuine version of you. Live it.

I’m still out of Facebook as of this writing, and surprisingly, I’m not that eager to come back to it (although I do need to come back to it eventually). But when I step back into the crazy world of reactions and memes and random posts and videos, I do so with a different perspective and a whole new wiring.

If you can muster the might and courage to do so too, I highly recommend taking a break from the wide world of social media.

Lock the screen, close the tab.

Stop scrolling and start living.

featured photo by Thomas Wong, courtesy of unsplash.com

 

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