status update: taking a social media time-out | personal
I’ve been trying to write these thoughts down for almost 3 weeks now, but it has been difficult to correctly put into words: I have made a personal decision give up social media. I’ve been feeling this was necessary since January, but have constantly made excuse after excuse of why it couldn’t happen. Mostly, it was because of my worry about our business, or keeping up with friends and family who lived far away. I was certain that our business would suffer from not having a personal and business presence on social media. However, I woke up one morning at the Pursuit 31 conference in September, and knew that these were simply lame excuses, so I quit…cold turkey.
I want to begin by explaining the reasons that I felt it was necessary to quit. This entire year, I have felt like I couldn’t understand God’s purpose for my life. I was feeling lost. I kept asking/expecting to hear and understand, while praying fervently to have a clear vision of my place. Nothing…Crickets…. I would see other people’s posts or photos about what they were doing, what their business was doing, etc. Families went in to full-time missions, other photographers showcased extreme creativity, moms home-schooled their kids while running a super successful business, photographers getting published here or there. I saw moms who were crafting, baking, spending more time (or less time) with their families than I was, there were photographers who always found time to write, blog, send out newsletters the first of every month. I was in a constant state of ‘comparison.’ I always felt like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t doing enough, or being creative enough for God, my kids, my husband, my business, and or even myself. There was SO much more that I ‘should’ be doing. I couldn’t hear myself think much less know what my purpose was because I was constantly comparing my life and purpose to everyone else. Of course, I had NO idea what I was supposed to do. So I quit! I don’t know what the next steps are, but I find myself thinking more clearly and — in turn — feeling obliviously joyful.
Giving up Social Media is like exercising a muscle; you have to train it to do what you want. It takes concentration, determination and practice. I have had a few slips along the way when I forget. I have had to instruct myself to stop checking my phone every 30 seconds, checking Instagram, Facebook, and whatever else I needed to feel “up-to-date,” and be constantly present in my actual life. I am amazed at how many people are on their phones while driving, at every stoplight, and sitting at the dinner table, at church, everywhere. It sounds like I’m judging, but I was there. What could possibly be SO important that we disregard our actual lives and our own safety to check in on others ‘virtual’ lives. That’s exactly what it is: a virtual life. It is easy to have an online presence that makes you appear to be the perfect wife (insert photo of you cooking an amazing dinner), perfect mother (baking homemade goodies with my kids), perfect business woman (for my job it would be an artistically amazing wedding shot), and perfect Christian (insert a sunrise photo from your church because you are there so early). I have posted all of these things, trying to convey the perfection I was seeking, but my life is one big, beautiful, imperfect mess!
Comparison was the thief of my joy, so I took steps to stop constantly comparing.
I might be alone in this, and I am embarrassed to reveal how weak I am, that I wasn’t strong enough to prevent the comparison from affecting me. I wasn’t strong enough to discern that all of those well-planned, intriguing posts are not a representation of real life. I wasn’t strong enough to set parameters for social media and stick to them. This is so hard to write out because I am so ashamed that it was true in my life.
Then I read about Michelangelo’s Prisoners, a group of statues that are half-finished. They are partly rough stone and partly beautiful sculpture. It is claimed that Michelangelo left them incomplete to demonstrate the eternal struggle of human beings to try to free themselves from their material trappings. That stopped me in my tracks. I am not yet finished, incomplete, held prisoner by my material “stuff” and in a state of constant comparison. However, I don’t want to be left this way: frozen forever as a hard and bitter half-finished work.
1 Peter 2:4-5 says: “as you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him. You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
I do not know if there are others out there feeling the same way, but I am nervous and excited about what will happen next. I simply want to truly be alive, and to strive to be a blessing in other people’s lives. I’m not trying to be a luddite, but just live in a more old-fashioned way. Like late ’90’s. I know that God has a plan for this unfinished work, and for all of the other works of art out there.
Since I don’t check social media (which is actually sometimes really inconvenient) you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have thoughts or ideas on this subject.