…that is the question.
I’m struggling here friends. Not over something major or life altering but over my use of social media.
On one hand Facebook is how I keep up with family and friends and how I share the words that I write here. On the other, it can be an enormous waste of my time and a burden on my spirit when I check the website numerous times a day and go on a deep dive in the comments sections of some posts.
One of the devotionals I read last week struck a chord with this statement: “It is a necessary spiritual discipline to resist occupying ourselves with things or people we cannot change.” Yet the following quote (that I saw on Facebook!) also resonated with me: “there are times when you must speak, not because you are going to change the other person, but because if you don’t speak, they will have changed you.”
The fact of the matter is that studies have found that political or other strong opinion posts on social media do little if anything to change peoples minds on a topic. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/84795/political-facebook-posts-dont-change-minds-study-says) Why then do we continue to be armchair pundits? Maybe it is because we want to be on the record, publicly, as opposing opinions or policies that conflict with our morals and values. Maybe those of us who feel rather isolated in our viewpoints due to the areas in which we live are looking for confirmation that others share our feelings, even if we do risk social media becoming an echo chamber for our own thoughts and beliefs. Or maybe, in the case of some of my Facebook friends, we truly want to start a thoughtful conversation with others who may not agree with us about a particular topic and social media provides a platform for that.
Controversial topics aside, there is also the issue of how much time I have been spending on social media in general. As an experiment this past week, I tried to limit my usage, especially of Facebook. I checked the site once in the morning time, just a couple of times a day and then once in the evening. I caught myself mindlessly opening the app on my phone and immediately closing it back out. I had to delete the link from my bookmarks tab on my computer because I am in the habit of routinely clicking on a new tab and opening the site as I “multitask”. As a result, I do believe I had less moments of feeling despair and thoughts of “how could that person think/feel/say that?” I was able to stay more focused on what I was doing without my mind going down a rabbit hole about this topic or that. Not to mention that my weekly screen report on my phone showed my usage down by over 20 percent!
Everyone has their own reasons for what they choose to put out into cyberspace. As for me, I am still conflicted. As with everything in life, I suppose moderation is the key to balance when engaging with others on social media. And I have come to the conclusion that for my mental health, it is a good idea to limit my time on that platform and read and post in a more deliberate way – more thoughtfully considering what I write rather than angrily posting in a reactionary manner.
Will I stop “liking”, commenting on, or sometimes sharing controversial topics? Not likely. Although I don’t believe there is any danger of anyone NOT knowing my feelings and positions on a variety of issues, there are certain subjects that I will still feel compelled to speak out about. Will that change anyone’s minds about anything? Again, not likely! But I like to think that in some small way I have used my voice to speak out about issues that I feel strongly about in those times when words are sometimes all we have.
Karri Temple Brackett
September 1, 2019
And I hear them sayingGarth Brooks “The Change”
You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world we know
Never changes me