If It’s Not On Instagram, Did It Even Happen?

By Lisa Logan

It was 6am when I awoke to my morning alarm. Tired, irritable, moody, I woke up “on the wrong side of the bed”. My eyes felt tired and puffy; my skin, flat and pale. I unlocked my smartphone and opened up Instagram hoping for some pick me up. I began scrolling through the "Explore" page, looking at images of ranging from A-Z. About 30 minutes later, I closed the app, placed it on my nightstand, schlepped out of bed and finally opened my prayer book.

There are plenty of tools I can turn to get over my morning blues the minute my eyes open: prayer, exercise, vitamin D. Unfortunately, this wasn't what I was doing, and it wasn't helping. It was affecting my mood and my self-image. I had to try something different. I had to make a behavioral change.

I needed to figure out why I had to share a beautiful moment on Instagram. If I put together a lovely meal, or traveled to a beautiful place, would it be the same experience without thousands of “likes” from people I didn't know? Why was I feeling compelled to share every thought I had on Twitter? What did intimate moments with family mean anymore if every one was shared with the world?

My intent with this blog is not to over-spiritualize this topic, but to allow us to reflect over our personal use of social media. About 10 months ago, I decided to leave all social media behind, so I deleted the apps Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook from my phone - the forms of social media I use and abuse most. A few moments after deciding to put away social media and a few seconds of thumb twiddling, I thought, "I should tweet about this."

So what did I discover over the past 10 months?

1. Presence is important. We were made for community and relationship. St. Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25 and Romans 12:4-5. In order for our friendships, marriages and familial relationships to work, we have to put in an effort by giving of our time. Checking what our friends our doing on Instagram is not pegged as effort. 

2. Rest and privacy are of the essence. We need time for rest, but we also need privacy while doing it. Normally, we wouldn't peer through someone's fence into their backyard as they were having a pool party or family BBQ, that would be creepy. Am I right? Now that we have social media, we can easily peer into someones backyard, or living room. So for privacy's sake, and to actually rest our minds from school or work, we need to put social media away.

3. Social media itself isn’t really the problem, it’s how you use it. Social media can be good. It’s how we reach hearts for Christ at M4M and it's how I connect with family oversees. But it can become problematic if it filters into your living room and you can't put your phone down. At the bottom of this blog, I'll share some apps with you to help monitor your social media usage. 

4. I've discovered where I find JOY. Putting social media away has given me the time to really quiet my mind and discover what brings me true joy. I'm happiest living between the crinkled pages of a Jeanette Walls book, highlighting the heck out of my Bible and putting on my dancing shoes with my hubby at a local dance studio. 

You'll probably see me posting more in the coming months as I've recently gone "online" again. I recently returned from Florida with my husband where we went for some rest and pleasure. You may have seen Instagrams and tweets along the way. I shared pleasures and discoveries. There were inspiring moments, even a blog came out of it. Most importantly, there were moments left undocumented that you didn't see for the sake of being present and soaking in every precious moment with my loved ones. 

Below you'll find some great apps I've found that really help with monitoring social media usage. Are you up for the challenge?

  1. BreakFree: This app gives you an addiction score based on how much time you spend on social media and tells you how many times per day you unlock your phone. 
  2. Offtime helps users by blocking distracting applications, especially during times when smart phones should be "off" like dinner time and bed time. 
  3. QualityTime: similar to the above applications, but everything is built into one app.