September 20, 2020
Has anyone else heard about TikTok being banned today from uploading in the U.S. due to foreign privacy concerns? I was listening to someone talk about all of the ways a fun app like TikTok can be used to access our private information and cameras, and this prompted me to delete many apps from my phone!
I'm just kind of like that. I don't like being baited through entertainment in exchange for my privacy. Also me, I'm addicted to my social media apps on my phone. I thought though, it might be easier to get rid of this addiction with this in mind. It's worth a try. Let's see how long this will last! So far, I tried uploading Instagram again at night, but it was taking too long, and I went to sleep instead. The addiction is real.
Something else that came to mind is this question: who is interrupting who? Let me explain. It's really nice being able to watch a video on my phone while folding laundry, or connecting with family and friends on social media, but how many times do I feel that the people in my home are interrupting me when I'm watching these things? It can be frustrating having to push the pause button, or stop writing a comment, in order to listen to the people that clearly don't see that I'm busy at the moment!
But when you think about it, isn't my phone the one that is really interrupting my life? Shouldn't social media or YouTube wait for the precious people in my real life? Years later, when today's apps are unpopular and only a memory, will we regret all the moments we exchanged valuable time with our loved ones for a few moments of escaping through entertainment?
My family isn't interrupting me, my phone is interrupting my family. They deserve even more of my attention, and building a lasting relationship with them is definitely of more value long term, obviously! Lets face it, most of us are probably on these apps more time than we want to be.
So, here's what I'll do for this blog post: I'll come back after some time and give you an update below on this whole experiment of not having my social media on my phone! Brave, I know. Definitely a first world problem. Try it with me?
UPDATE: September 30, 2020
It has been about 10 days since I decided to remove social media from my phone, and I'd like to share what my experience has been and what I plan on doing moving forward. The first days I found myself reaching for my phone throughout the day and telling myself I wasn't doing that since it feels more of an addiction, a habit that has developed in my brain that isn't necessary most of the time. It has become more of a distraction or a coping mechanism for stress or even moments of anxiety. I want to be more intentional about my phone usage, including the amount of screen time I think is sensible, especially for the season of life that I'm in and the responsibilities that I have. When things begin to not get done because of overindulgence in social media, or when I begin to turn to a phone instead of God in moments of frustration or fear, then I think it has turned into something more of an idol rather than a tool.
At the same time that I had decided to take a break from social media on my phone, my friend recommended I watch the Netflix documentary, "The Social Dilemma", and I felt it gave me even more reasons to be aware that there are other components aside from my habits that are contributing to the overuse of social media. I noticed how intentional app creators are in getting us to come back and spend more time on their apps, because after all, it's their business. We tend to see these apps as a pass time, but that is not their purpose behind the scenes. I learned things that concern me of not only the effects they are having on me, but as well on my children. I don't want to just go along with it mindlessly, and I don't want to forget to ask God's help in the process as well.
So, instead of the time I would spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, I picked up a book to read. Those first days felt like my mind was on a vacation. My mind was able to relax more reading rather than swiping away. I did feel at the end of the day though, that I had missed out on what happened on the social media world, and that it would be hard to "catch up" and "keep up" with the new things to read that day. There is this fear of missing out associated with this change.
I decided to unfollow some people in order to make my social media more significant and less exciting. I thought, if there isn't so much to see, I may not feel like I need to see what's new as often. Another thing I'm noticing is that this doesn't help too much, since social media has began to add people and products they recommend seemingly every other post of a person you actually chose to follow. It is a commercial feed now. It has changed so much from what it first was when we signed up originally.
Another dilemma I had as a YouTuber, is sharing my YouTube videos without Instagram on my phone. Sharing stories or posting on Instagram is really challenging without the app. I considered simply uploading to my Youtube and quitting Instagram, but I have yet to decide that in the future. Perhaps I will one day. It makes me feel uncomfortable seeing other websites posting pictures of my stories elsewhere as well.
I also became aware that Youtube is highly addictive as well. The constant recommended videos will create a binge-like habit, even if all you are watching have good and clean content, overindulgence can still be a problem. It interrupts the family, as mentioned in the post above. I don't want to be that kind of YouTuber either, that is so ambitious to grow a channel at the expense of people's awareness that they are trained to stop whatever they are suppose to be doing to watch you. I suppose not everyone does this, but I have noticed myself doing this, especially when it's people that I can learn a lot from. Instead, I have made it a point to choose which videos will be watched each day and at what time would be best that I have to myself, and won't take away from my responsibilities, as well as my family time.
The Bible verse that comes to mind concerning this is found in Matthew 5:29, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." I think about the simple application that can be learned from this: if something is making you stumble, get rid of it. Moving forward I plan on trying a few things until I figure out what changes are necessary for me and my family. I'd like to depend less on my phone, so perhaps making simple changes like buying regular clocks again, instead of needing to pick up a phone to tell the time, which is something we do constantly. I plan on continuing to leave my phone in a separate room, in order to make it harder and less enticing for me to pick it up. I also think it's best to decide how many times a day and what time will be designated for looking at social media on a computer.
The less the phone is a part of our lifestyle, the more time we will have for other more important things like reading, real conversations, and relaxing. We don't have to keep up with everyone. The people that want to be a part of our life will be a part of our life outside of social media. I want to get back to those days where a phone was a tool you controlled and not us being a tool for the people managing the apps in our phones.