Have you ever thought about how often you pick up your smart phone for no significant reason? Checking Facebook, your email, Googling, watching a video... you know as well as I do that the list goes on and on. It didn't hit me how frequently I take a quick peek at something until I went 48 hours without it. I'm embarrassed to say that the first 24 were hard. But it got me thinking.
Where I live, society encourages us to be raw and authentic. There's an emphasis on individuality, acceptance, and "Human-Kindness." Most of us agree with these things, yet we're content watching others do it through the safety of our screens, (TV, phone, etc.) and forget to do it ourselves—out there. In the real world.
We forget to lift our eyes and look around— taking in a world that offers much more socialization than we will ever get via social media. We live life thinking that because we see it online, we're actually engaging in it.
Ironically, social media has de-socialized us.
We're more comfortable talking to a stranger online than in person. True, I speak to a myriad of people on any given day through the internet. But what about the people standing around me while I wait in line somewhere? Instead of actually being social, I turn to my phone to see what others are doing on the other side of a screen.
And then I miss something.
... a chance to help the old woman behind me who just dropped something.
... an opportunity to see the beautiful young child who has been staring at me, trying to get my attention.
... the privilege of making small talk with the widower who came to Starbucks just so he wouldn't feel alone.
If you're single, maybe the man or woman of your dreams was standing five feet from you, but you decided to check your Tinder account to find out if you've found your match.
We've learned how to be social and talk to complete strangers online, but we aren't willing to press past our comfort zones and talk to real people. We may have thousands of online friends but because we have become so comfortable behind the screen, we feel awkward interacting in real social settings. We miss the chance to make friends or brighten someone else's day because we're becoming socially inept.
On top of that, we've missed something even more important.
As Christians, we've unwittingly fallen into an even bigger trap. During my two-day break with the internet, I realized how often the Holy Spirit pulls me towards Him during the day. In the moments when I suddenly want a break or feel the need to fill an empty minute, it's often the Lord pulling me to turn my focus and interact with Him. He rushes in to say something, or to simply remind us of His love, but because of the habits we've formed, we interpret that sudden empty spot as a need to look at our phone. The Lord graciously woos us to Himself, yet we run for an artificial and temporary fix when He offers a deluge of life, an answer to the question we've been asking, or a moment of clarity about something we've been going through.
Ten seconds of acknowledging His presence and turning our gaze to Him, can do more to calm a frazzled mind than thirty minutes of internet down time.
So, the next time you feel the impulse to grab your phone, stop. Be still and know He is God. You may be on the verge of a great discovery about Him, about yourself, or about those around you.
How have you seen social media de-socialize us? Are there changes you can make to your daily internet habit? I'd love to hear from you.