July 26, 2019
You get a bit of down time in between classes, so you check your notifs on Facebook, react “haha” on a post, see how many viewed your IG story, and reply to a convo in one of your GCs.
Social media has definitely made communication faster, easier, more creative, available for all, and nonstop.
With all the articles on the negative effects of excessive social media use, it has become debatable whether being constantly cyber-connected really makes our relationships better.
A global digital report published in January 2019 by We Are Social found that the Philippines ranks first in the world for length of time spent on social media. According to their data, we spend an average of 4 hours and 12 minutes on social networking sites, which may actually mean that we are spending more time online.
I am not saying that going on social media is wrong. But whatever reasons we may have for using the internet, especially social networking sites, we all need to take a breather from being connected online.
Here are three reasons why it’s good to regularly take a social media break:
The flip side of being connected 24/7 to an ever-growing online community is that we spend less time with the people who are right next to us.
Disconnecting for a few hours while we are at home can give us time to have meaningful conversations with our family over meals. It’s good to exchange funny comments with friends online, but it doesn’t compare to sharing a laugh while experiencing a crazy situation together.
According to the World Health Organization, young people up to 17 years old need 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and those who are 18 and older need at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Aside from contributing to our physical health, exercise is also known to release hormones that lower stress and depression. So, instead of being always Active on Messenger, be more physically active!
Social media platforms have given us not just the freedom to express ourselves but also access to tons of information. Since our news feed refreshes every few seconds, we don’t have much time to really process the messages we read and receive. So we must pause, ask these kinds of questions, and reflect.
Are these thoughts true?
Do they help me become productive?
Will they help me encourage and build others up?
If we don’t pause and reflect every now and then, our minds will be filled with anything that’s trending online, whether these are beneficial or not. Let us always keep in mind Paul’s reminder:
. . . 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.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Just like how our bodies need detoxification, our minds also need to go through “digital detox.” The goal in a detox is to flush out overload and/or unhealthy food intake, so we can start off by limiting and carefully choosing what we take in.
How? Here are some things to consider:
Set aside certain times of the day to unplug. Instead of sneaking in a new status update while eating or before sleeping, you can give personal updates to family and friends who are with you at the moment. If it’s like a reflex for you to check for updates at meal time, start by not bringing your gadget to the dining table.
Less screen time means more time to do other things. In a regular detox, you don’t just stop eating; you eat less and you eat healthy alternatives.
Exercise is one of the many things we can do instead of spending too much time on social media. You can also learn a new hobby, study a new language, learn how to play an instrument, read books, organize your closet, and the list goes on.
It’s not actually about finding stuff to do but more about paying attention to other productive and fun activities you can enjoy, either with others or by yourself.
The clock on your phone can be a trap. Maybe you just wanted to check the time, but you ended up hooked on Facebook and easily lost 30 minutes of your life. So get a wristwatch instead, and spare yourself from the temptation of that notification.
Speaking of the bright red circles, those notifications may look urgent, but most of the time, they are not.
Aside from your messaging app, you can turn off notification alerts for social networking sites to avoid the urge to check what you think you’re missing out on. Turning off these notifications can give you control on when to check your phone, instead of checking it every time they pop up.
On social media, we mostly “react” through a limited range of emojis. We’ve gotten faster at replying and sharing, but we need time to think about things more deeply and figure out the right response to everything that’s going on, both in cyberspace and in everyday reality.
We can do this by unplugging at the start and end of the day and turning to the Source of wisdom. We may learn a lot from the inspiring personalities and pages we follow, but it is God from whom we can receive the ultimate truth—no fake news.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding . . .
As we take in waves of digital information, let us choose to let the Word of God define which of these are true, and which of these we will allow into our hearts.
For the word of God is living and active . . . discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We need to disconnect from all the voices on social media and connect to God who wants to speak words of life to us. Let’s make room in our daily lives to hear first His voice.
“My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life.”
John 10:27,28 (MSG)