Last November, I stopped using social media. I haven’t ever been a user of Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook but I did use Instagram every day. A couple of my close friends questioned my use of it, asking why I didn’t mind using something owned by Facebook – a social media presence that I have always struggled with.
My response didn’t really satisfy them. Or me.
My way of using Insta meant that I kept up with 150 or so of my closest friends and family. (But then that is what everyone else says they use social media for…right?)
When I started writing my latest book “The Rest of your life” (or ‘ROYL’- as I like to call it) I felt it was time to fast from Insta for a while. Just for a few months until the book was written. That was just over 7 months ago and I have never felt it right to return. To be honest, I love life without it.
It has only hit me recently that NOT using Insta has blessed me in my friendships in a way that I had not foreseen.
I was describing it to my friend Lauren the other day. I told her that I feel like the ‘blindfolds have come back on.’ Let me explain more what I mean by that.
When you see someone’s shot on Insta it is not surprising that you think about them. There they are on a beach at Cromer, or in a wedding reception venue in Harrow. So you think about them. You may even text them to ask how it went. But in the natural sense you were NOT thinking about them before you saw their photo stream. The picture they sent has effectively ‘interrupted’ your thoughts and your spirit. Sometimes that might be a welcome thing. But other times, not so much…
Whereas NOT having a picture of them to remind you of what they are going through, can be super helpful spiritually speaking. I liken this to ‘putting on blindfolds.’ Not knowing what people are facing can really help you tune in to what God might be saying to you for them. It is also much more authentic when you get it right.
I feel as though not seeing people online has definitely put a distance between me and certain friends. There are now some widening gaps in the friendship group I had before. I no longer know all the things going on with my brothers like I used to (not that I could EVER keep up with half that happens to my amazing brothers, at the best of times!) BUT in its place I have a much healthier sense of spiritual flow and rhythm. My life isn’t constantly interrupted by people showing me their dog’s new hair cut – cute though that might be. I am relying more on whether God is bringing them into my mind – SUPERnaturally.
This is really rather freeing.
The other day I tested this out in a big way. I texted someone a bible verse that struck me for them. Perhaps if I had been on Insta I would have asked something pertinent about his day, but I certainly would not have thought that the bible verse I had was remotely relevant or even encouraging. The verse in question spoke to his private, hidden heart not to something he had shown online. And it was SO of God, we were both taken aback.
Which one would you rather hear? A “Yes my dog has a cure fringe now!” or “Thank you for confirming that gnawing fear in my heart and showing me God’s answer for my pain.”
Maybe I am just getting too old for chit chat. Small talk doesn’t sustain me and thrill me much anymore. Perhaps you feel similarly? Maybe, like me, you could go ‘off grid’, and put your blindfolds on, once in a while, to see if it helps your spirit to see more clearly?