My new years resolution for 2017 was to go a year without scrolling social media and the warplike vortex that can be the internet. I liken it to mind sugar: it’s addictive and sadly can become degenerative. I am only a month in, but I have already gathered a few thoughts to share.
For the past few years, I’ve continually ignored a quiet voice in my head that has counselled me to quit my continual scrolling of social and other mindless media. I am obsessed with Dallas Hartwig’s mantra: more social, less media. I wish I had coined it!! (Ironically, I learned about it on Instagram.)
These media are somehow drawing us in over and over. How else would I know that the kid who sat next to me in seventh grade science had a ham sandwich for lunch today? Or that a kangaroo can in fact put someone’s dog in a headlock? What about the psycho hose beasts continually trying to draw fire politically? Or all that heartwarming humblebragging. The majority of it is just white noise! Lately it seems to be getting louder, too.
I keep reading and scrolling and shaking my head…Then I go back for more the next day.
But here is the thing: I am ready to think my own thoughts again.
So, my 2017 is a world where my phone is exclusively a conduit info/communication, and not my window to look out and see the chaos that is flying around. I have untethered myself from it, and at home it’s plugged into a wall where it belongs. Here are the top things I have noticed so far. (Know that there are dozens of other good things.)
Where scrolling used to be: blank space to hear more from God. That was my primary objective for the resolution. A year devoid of heedless scrolling should certainly increase communion with the Lord. It’ll take time, as previously I avoided spending any time alone with my own thoughts. My wise friend and author Monica Swanson recently published some simple meditation cards. Take advantage of her hard work!! They are a perfect countermeasure to the scrolling, a handy tool for beginning meditation, intentionally clearing the mind, taking action to unplug.
Authentic outreach. We have a neighborhood FB group which generally takes care of most social connections and meetups around here. The other day, a new neighbor moved in. I wrote my contact info onto an index card, and then actually walked a few blocks to hand-deliver it. Honestly it felt awkward, like I was sticking my neck out. Normally, I would have just clicked “add” and kept scrolling. Because, you know, we can just message one another.
I have been reading a lot more. I think part of why we tend to scroll and scroll is because it’s an honest endeavor to become better informed. Reading is such a rich way to indulge the mind, grow us academically, increase empathy and compassion, and expand our horizons far beyond the instant-gratification internet media. Get back into it with me.
I don’t say “Just a minute” to my children quite as often. HUGE.
The added quiet space in my day has made me feel more patient as a mother…which is what I have been praying for. Has this been part of the answer this whole time? Oops.
I have a predisposition for feeling lonely. It is chronic and I know it is mostly those mean voices in my head…but still, it’s one of my biggest hangups. When I am especially suffering, I turn to scrolling to stave off my despondent feelings, but it doesn’t work. Ever. It’s a false sense of community for me. Now that I am no longer scrolling, I am taking action to identify some effective antidotes to solve my chronic lonely feelings. Blog post to follow….
I have five pairs of eyes on me at all times. I don’t want my kids to think that scrolling is just what you do all day if you don’t have anything else to put your hand to. No. I want to model a different existence to them. Scrolling is no way to live your life.
Journaling. Such an organic, authentic way to document my thoughts, feelings and personal growth. My journal is blissfully filling up again. It’s tangible, tear-stained, raw. I can go back into it and observe quantifable personal progress. I began a commonplace journal as well. It’s a beautiful way to catalogue memorable literary quotations. You know, the stuff you dog-ear or underline, the snippets you read twice because they are so rich. Copying these passages by hand allow them to sink in all the more. I learned about commonplace journalling via Sarah McKenzie. Look into it.
My scrolling-free time is wide open to pray for people who I am supposed to be praying for (kids & hubby), and for those I have told, “I will pray for you!” These people who need intercession have come to the forefront of my mind far more often. It’s notable that when I’m prayerful toward people who unnerve me, my attitude changes toward them.
Sometimes after closing out a mindless media scrolling session, I’ve come away thinking “uggggggggggghhhhhhh I feel dumber now.”
It is so empowering to take charge of what enters my mind and heart…
vet it to meet my needs…
ensure it doesn’t increase strife in my relationships…
cause me to lose focus on my calling.
Nothing I am consuming with my eyes will make me dumber, angrier, more insecure, or further off my rails. I can see that our society is clambering to feel empowered again, and perhaps this might be one step in the right direction.
Social media can be such a fun and uplifting place, and I have gleaned plenty from the things my people have shared. It is important to stay relevant with the culture. You’ll see me on FB/Insta a little bit because they are useful communication tools for groups I am involved in, and I still want document my favorite moments. I am not set against the social media; however, I would like to set myself apart from it. Please don’t be offended if I am not “liking” your stuff. It’s not you, it’s me.
I need a retreat from the hivemind. A long one.
Maybe not-scrolling will be the new paleo. I would love that. 🙂
p.s. Because scrolling-without-ceasing is now our culture, there is a market for a “swipe and feed.” When I first saw this, I felt my heart ripping out of my chest. Where do I begin? Responding to this photograph would require a whole nother blog post.