Disclaimer: I realize the irony of posting this on social media. Point taken. Just keep reading!
If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I jokingly refer to it as “random and inconsistent” which has been funny until it became clear it wasn’t.
Random and inconsistent has ceased to be a playful punchline and has become an increasingly accurate description for the condition of my thinking, my focus, my productivity, my physical health, my role as a husband/father, and my spiritual life. Nothing is falling apart. I’m not burning out, cracking up, or caving in, but a recent TED talk by an author whose books I love really got my attention.
And he has convinced me to leave social media.
When I created a Facebook profile back in 2006, one of my favorite things was the ability to re-connect with friends from my hometown and childhood/adolescence, as well as to communicate with the people to whom I served as a minister. However, social media has become less about connecting and informing and more about entertaining. Well, let’s be honest, it seems to be more about provoking, dividing, and projecting. In fact, when real interaction occurs with my social media connections, they happen via private message, text, e-mail, or that ancient ritual of personal conversation!
Still, I felt I needed the social media presence. Where was this coming from?
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, and his upcoming, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, described how social media is designed to addict us through entertainment and the fragmenting of our attention/concentration. What he described began to sound a whole lot like the subtle, but nagging sense I’ve had for a while now that I am not as productive, creative, or disciplined as I used to be. And yet, I am convinced that I’m in a season of life as a blogger, pastor, citizen, husband, father, friend, and person of faith that requires more productivity, creativity, and discipline than ever before. But I was afraid! I mean, how in the world can I leverage influence in this world apart from the world of social media?!?!
The three main arguments for remaining on social media flow from three significant fears we have about being connected, informed, and relevant in this world. Newport demonstrated how all three are not only possible apart from social media, but we actually can expect to thrive in all three areas.
This got me really excited. There are causes and issues I want to thoughtfully blog about. I want to engage in deeper concentration as I prepare for sermons. I need to more carefully and thoughtfully plan and lead the podcast I host. I want to read more deeply and widely. I’m also writing a revised and expanded edition of my book, Hand Over Fist: An Invitation to Civility, which I hope to release late next year.
Now, I am NOT saying that people who remain active on social media cannot also engage in concentration and deep work. I’m only saying that I need to step away in order to re-establish these things in my own life and work.
So, I am saying farewell to social media. Maybe not forever, but at least for the foreseeable future. I’ve already de-activated my Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat accounts and I’ll de-activate Facebook on December 31. I’ll continue this blog, hopefully making it consistent and focused. I’ll keep my website and my email address – firstname.lastname@example.org So let’s stay in touch! You can also call my office (575)-522-7900.
Also, just take some time to read the many resources, studies, posts, articles, and testimonials from people who’ve taken the plunge. Simply Google the phrase, “getting off social media” and see what you find.
Until next time, stay focused, my friends!!