I was on Twitter before Twitter was cool (is it cool now?). My old employer encouraged being part of cutting edge communication, so that meant we should all join in. I was such an early bird that my handle (@JacobRiggs) didn’t have any numbers after it.
Facebook used to be a site just for college students (remember that?). I was on it then.
Instagram has never been my thing. Me and tons of pictures at my fingertips with no accountability is not a good idea. I’m too much of a sinner for that.
When It Started
I started disliking Facebook first. It was the red numbers. I’m pretty sure those still exist. You know the notifications at the top right hand part of the site that tell you you’re important? Yeah, my addiction to those was the beginning of the end of my relationship with the Book Face (thank you Jim Halpert).
Maybe Facebook didn’t intend for this to be the case. Actually I doubt that. I think they craft the notification tool in order to keep people coming back to the site again and again. For me, that notification tool was a satanic tool. Over time I realized more and more that I was addicted to the praise of people. I needed it to give me self-worth. This materialized in countless ways that the Holy Spirit is still uncovering, but Facebook was one of those avenues.
So I just deleted it. It was hard to do (BTW, if you can’t stop, you should. Paul said, “I will not be enslaved to anything”). Once I went back, but that didn’t last long.
I shouldn’t be too hard on Facebook just because it’s mostly older people now. After all, Twitter did the same thing to me. It felt great seeing something I wrote retweeted and liked by, oh, say, 12 people.
But Twitter also had another negative impact on me (although it wasn’t like this when I first started using it 10 years ago). I found myself getting upset about things that people in my real world were not upset about and didn’t even know about. There is an online world that can impact the real world, but it tries to suck you into it entirely. Many twitter users are robots. I was literally feeling anxious about something that isn’t even real. So I realized I had to say goodbye to Twitter as well.
Now, the Why
It was hard to say goodbye. It felt like a part of me was dying. The old connections I had on Facebook gave me validation, and I loved that. The retweets and likes on Twitter gave me hope that I could maybe be a real author one day, and I needed that.
But deep down that validation and “hope” was hurting me. And the way it was hurting me is probably cliche’ now, but it was true: anxiety. The red numbers on Facebook always made me want more and more red numbers. The retweets and likes on Twitter made me want more and more of the same. Sometimes I sought them so much that I would write things in a twisted way in order to get more recognition. The Bible calls that lying.
Only when God started showing me that He validates me did I find freedom to say goodbye. God cares for me. Period. Not based upon anything I offer Him or anything I’ve done, but just because He does. God sent His Son for me.
Here’s Your Out, Or Maybe Not
Should everyone get off of social media? Maybe. Should many? Yes. There are other reasons people should leave immediately other than just how it encourages anxiety. It also enables and encourages many sins that send people to hell: gossip, lust, bigotry, hatred, slander, laziness, pride. The list could go on and on.
You might not resonate with anything I’ve written here and find yourself not addicted to them. After all, social media can be used in good ways. Our church has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. You might be able to use your accounts to catch up with family or laugh over a funny video with friends and talk (in person) about it later.
I steal a look at Facebook on my wife’s account sometimes to check our church’s page or organizations I’m interested in. But I’m still not able to engage in it with my own accounts in a consistent, healthy way. So I’m staying away. I’d rather lose 12 likes than have my whole body thrown into hell. It really is about that for me in part. And the other part is that removing this has been one of several factors in giving my heart peace and my mind soundness.
Enjoy laughing at the cat videos, ignoring foolish political rants, and arguing with strangers about what color that article of clothing is. For now, I’m happy to do without that, and increasingly OK without those red numbers too. For that, I’m very grateful to the Lord.