How Purpose Redefined My Relationship With Social Media
I was chatting with a dear sweet friend the other day, a mom of 2 beautiful kids, and she was telling me that with the start of a new year she was feeling God tugging at her heart to deactivate her social media accounts. She was spending too much time sucked into it confiding in me that much of the information and conversation was making her soul weary. While I could totally relate to where she was coming from, part of me was also selfishly sad because social media is not only how we primarily communicate with each other, it's also what blessed me with her friendship.
Yes, I know there are other ways to communicate like picking up the phone and having an old-fashioned conversation or through text message. I guess I am just spoiled seeing her and other precious women and moms in my newsfeed, to feel that connection without having to reach out all the time in order to converse.
Maybe you saw some of the recent articles by former Facebook employees who shared that social media is more like social programming and maybe it left you feeling uneasy. I think we all deep down see the manipulation that goes along with using these social networks. Advertisers have perfected retargeting down to a science. Like searching for new pillows on Google, for example. You land on Wayfair's website to geek out over a set of spring pillows that would display perfectly in the rocking chairs on your front porch and the next thing you know you are seeing those same pillows from the Wayfair website in your Facebook newsfeed.
It feels like they are tracking our every move and it's creepy. Pair that with what seems like constant drama on social media around politics and sensationalized opinions about trending news topics and my compassion for her as a fellow mom who also wants to be present for my family, I can fully understand why my beautiful friend is feeling the need to cut this distraction out of her life.
In 2016, my word for the year was "simplify" and boy did I take it seriously. I went through my home and decluttered, cut down my wardrobe clearing out tons of stuff I no longer wore, I journaled about why I hang onto things instead of easily letting them go, I simplified my home decor getting rid of knick-knacks to cut down on the amount of time I spent on dusting, we adopted a more simplistic lifestyle that included breaking up with Directv and the $130+ monthly cost. (Best decision EVER!)
Every area of my life that I could simplify I did and at one point that included removing Facebook and other social media apps from my phone. I was tired, frustrated and honestly fed-up with the lack of quality content taking up my newsfeed, brain space and affecting my emotions. I love the social connections it provides but it was overwhelming me so I had that whole annoying love/hate thing going on and turning it off seemed like the easiest answer.
The conversation that I had with my friend brought me back to how I worked through my own feelings around social media. Maybe you are feeling like the online social interaction is doing more harm in your life than good, maybe your soul is feeling bogged down and friend, you definitely know what is best for you. What I aim to do here is not change your mind, only offer a different perspective that may or may not help you redefine how you use social media, to reassess the role that it plays in your life and maybe make some new discoveries along the way.
When I took a hard long look at my social media use, I had to ask myself what purpose it was serving. Was it just for my social enjoyment or did I want my time on social media to be used more intentionally? To be honest, while I am very blessed with some amazing friendships because of my online network, I can't say at the time it was really bringing me "enjoyment".
So much of what I saw felt forced and lacked authenticity. Social media provides the temptation to only show people what we want them to see, a highlight reel that attempts to show others how Pinperfect our lives are because somewhere along the way it's been implied that we have to show the world how good we have it and how well we are holding it all together.
My newsfeed was also flooded with political rants, hard selling product posts and fear of missing out marketing tactics from my years of being connected to the direct selling/network marketing and coaching industries but at the same time I also saw value in it and how it could be used to reach people in a positive way. I myself follow several amazing women via social media and find their daily messages uplifting and encouraging so what it boiled down to was me taking ownership of how I was using it personally and the type of information I was not only seeing but also sharing.
The first step I had to take was taking responsibility of how I was using social media in my life and whether or not I found it fulfilling. Once I determined that it did not bring me joy, I had ask myself why and then redefine how I wanted to use it moving forward. The word that kept coming to me was "purpose".
1. What purpose did social media serve in my life?
2. What purpose did I want social media to serve not only in my life but in the lives of others?
As I took these questions to heart, as I dived deeper to answer them with intention God was also revealing plans for me not only personally but professionally. I was feeling God stirring something in me (which is a whole other blog topic) but the conclusion that I came to was that social media could be used in a very purposeful way when I used it for His glory.
I realized that I did not need to use it the way most people were. That I was not obligated to post selfies or share every aspect of my personal life which as an introvert I don't even like doing. I did not need to share my thoughts on world events or rant about what had gone wrong with my day (that is what my hubby and close friends are for). I wanted my time and use of social media to have a deeper meaning and impact than that.
I feel personally called to help women own their worth in Christ. After struggling for years with insecurity as a people pleaser and not having a personal relationship with Christ, I felt God calling me to share that journey and my story with other women I just needed to do some housekeeping:
• I started out 2016 with 2800 connections on my personal Facebook page, I now have less than 1300 and I am constantly re-evaluating who I am connected with to ensure that on my personal page it's only people that I know, people I have regular meaningful conversations with. This has completely transformed my newsfeed.
• I rarely share personal details or any content that would be controversial. I do occasionally share information around raising awareness about vaccines due to my own personal story and experience with our oldest son and a vaccine injury. This has greatly cut down on my notifications.
• I am mindful of the time I spend on my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds, usually 1-2 times per day.
• The majority of content that I do share is centered with purpose, to spiritually uplift and inspire.
• I use my Facebook business page and @CreativeMomista Instagram for the same purpose, reaching more people without having to friend tons of people that I don't personally know.
• I am mindful of who I follow and align myself with.
• I very rarely ever check trending news topics. Cuts down on the temptation of the enemy to use my weakness of being very opinionated to share and comment on such topics. If I want to watch the news, I'll do it with the hubby and we can share our very honest thoughts together privately.
• I spend more time reading my Bible, books and bible studies than what is on social media.
• If the information is not bringing me closer to Christ, if it's not helping me to grow spiritually and be more deeply rooted in Him, I am mindful not to give it my energy or attention. Not always easy but worth every bit of effort.
• I spend more time creating purposeful content through social media and my blog than worrying about the chatter on my newsfeed.
If you are struggling with social media, maybe the answer is not to turn it off completely.
Maybe the answer can be found in asking yourself how you can use it to better the lives of others?
How you can use it to serve others in a positive and empowering way?
Maybe it's less about not using it at all and more about redefining how you are using it, letting go of the expectations others have about how you should be using it and challenging the status quo.
Maybe God is calling you to shake things up in your online space to serve Him and to glorify the plans He has for you?
Maybe it's being more mindful of how much you are using it?
My experience in redefining my social media use completely transformed the way I feel about it and use it. I stopped worrying about the numbers on my fan page, I stopped trying to understand why I would gain 20 followers on Instagram one day and lose 15 the next because at the end of the day, they are not my followers, they are His.
He is pouring a purpose into me and asking me to use the gifts and talents He has given me (my love of writing and my knowledge of social media) to obediently show up to share my story, how He turns my messes and brokenness into a message of hope. That is all He asks of us, to show up and trust Him to do the rest and because of that I no longer have any emotional attachment to social media.
Maybe, like my friend, you feel like social media is not serving any purpose in your life right now and that is okay. Maybe God is calling you to serve other ways like pouring yourself into your local community, to lead an intimate bible study. Go to Him in prayer and ask Him to show you how you can use the gifts and talents He has blessed you with to serve Him. He will never misguide you sweet friend. He only wants what is best for you and will always have your best interests at heart so you can flourish and prosper.
I hope this has given you a new perspective about social media and how it can be redefined and used with more purpose and intent. Did this help bring you more clarity? Maybe a renewed sense of passion in the possibilities of how you can use it to encourage and inspire others with a message God has been laying on your heart? I would love to hear your thoughts so be sure to leave me a comment. xo
Welcome Beautiful Creative! I'm April, a mom of two boys • Storyteller • Coffee Addict • Warrior For Christ • Texas Country Girl • Creative Expressive • Squarespace Web Designer • I pray you find inspiration here to embrace your worth in Christ • I am honored to have you here ❥