Recently I had a span of several weeks where I couldn’t sleep. Either I couldn’t fall asleep until 2 in the morning or I fell asleep fine but would wake in the early hours. No matter how many breathing techniques I’d try or prayers I’d pray the sleep just wouldn’t come.
I’m sure you’ve been there. It’s exhausting.
Something sweet and unexpected happened for me in those early hours though. I realized something I had felt but had not previously been able to wrap words around.
In the pitch of the night, I recognized a dark habit I had slowly acquired. A cadence not confined merely to the time between days but in my waking moments too. I had gotten into the rhythm of scrolling and consuming. Wiping and swiping. I found myself feeling neutral, mindless, blank almost.
Perpetually being neither rested nor productive. Constantly eating and never filled. Longing for community and more disconnected than ever.
Wandering. Malnourished. Alone.
Facebook Fat and Soul Starved.
A pattern many of you can probably relate to.
Emotionally emaciated from time spent consuming images and information. From feasting on our FB feeds while ignoring the inner groaning for something more substantial to sustain us.
I believe that getting in the habit of consuming virtual crumbs instead of sowing into real relationships is easy for us to slip into for a couple of reasons:
- It’s Easier – Snacking on social media when we can grab a few minutes here and there makes us less interested in what should be the main course. That is, cultivating our relationships and investing in things that are worthy of our time and resources.
- It Happened Gradually – Our appetite for practices that produce shallow affection rather than those that develop mutual devotion happened slowly over time and we didn’t see it right away. Insert frog in pot metaphor.
- We’re Looking to Escape – We are bored and overwhelmed all at the same time. Life’s obligations have many of us too exhausted to invest our time and energy into things that energize and excite us.
Becoming Soul Satisfied in the Age of Social Media
Social Media is a relatively recent phenomenon. My hope is that we will see more and more conscientious folks in the next decade implementing healthy boundaries for themselves around technology. To use it more as it was intended — a tool rather than a fruitless vortex.
Here are a few things that have helped me:
- Decide What’s Important – Take some time to remember what you want your life to be about and what’s worthy of your resources.
- Evaluate – Step back and evaluate ways in which your virtual life is siphoning energy from your real life and derailing you from your passions and purpose.
- Make a Plan – Draw up some boundaries to help stay focused and in line with your values. Come up with specific things you want to change and write them down (i.e., I will only be online after the kids have gone to bed, we’ll take a walk as a family after dinner every Monday and Wednesday night, we’ll invite a new family for dinner once a month).
- Post Your Passion – Having your goals written out makes you 42% more likely to achieve them. Placing them in a place where you can see them and be reminded of why they are important to you is not only critical to keeping you on track but it’s inspiring too!
I am by no means on the other side of this — I am smack dab in the middle of figuring out the proper place for social media in my life. I know that more connectedness with the people before me is worth the wrestle and that naming our desires and deficiencies is the first step in making lasting change.
TAKE ACTION: Think of one or two ways you can cut down on your time in front of the screen so you have more time to engage with your people. Maybe it’s no technology whatsoever for an hour after the kids get home from school so you can be fully present for them and/or setting aside one night a week to meet up with a friend and connect over coffee.