Many months ago, my friend, Wendy Speake, asked me to read her upcoming new release The 40-Day Social Media Fast: Exchange Your Online Distractions for Real-Life Devotion in hopes that I would consider endorsing it. That I did:
“Our thoughts determine our beliefs, our beliefs determine our attitudes, and our attitudes determine our behaviors, so what we spend time thinking about impacts both how we feel and ultimately how we behave. A decade ago precious little time was spent on the internet; whereas today, social media profiles are growing exponentially and online surfing comprises more of our day than spending time gathered around the table for family meals. The 40-Day Social Media Fast is a challenge to all of us to turn from what our behavior proves is our first love (all things online) to the One who desires to be our first and only love. Wendy Speake helps us to see that in and of itself, social media (or food, or music, etc.) is not inherently bad, but when we turn to it to cope rather than to the God with all wisdom, we trade that which will last for eternity for the momentary gratification of a “like,” a ping, a calorie, or a tune. If you’ve found yourself growing disenchanted with life, I’d recommend you read The 40-day Social Media Fast, and intentionally and purposefully reengage with the One who died to have a relationship with you.”
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Wendy about all things related to a Social Media Fast on a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast. If you didn’t get a chance to listen, you can here (Benefits of Taking a Break from Social Media – Episode 85). Yet, our time just flew by, so I asked Wendy to share more about what she’s noticed with us here (warning…you just might feel a tad convicted like I was after reading her experience 😉 ).
Read to the end for a book giveaway!
It’s Time for a Social Media Fast
By Wendy Speake
We all seem to be looking down these days. I wonder if that’s why many of us feel down too. We perpetually bow our heads, but not in prayer. While we might believe prayer works, we don’t have the time to get on our knees because we’re on our phones. Checking in online, responding to a text, watching a YouTube video—then looking up just in time to snap a picture of the sunset. As we post it to social media, we realize our neck aches and that we forgot to switch out the laundry.
We need a break. A holy hiatus. A social media sabbatical.
My name is Wendy, and I’m exhausted. Perhaps it has something to do with late nights spent streaming movies, or maybe it’s because I don’t have any quiet moments without a screen stimulating me. I’m all tweeted out. I need to unplug for a season so that I can plug in to the One who is my source and my strength. I’m as drained as the battery on my phone—and I know I’m not alone.
My smartphone, it turns out, may not be the smartest purchase I ever made. While I can’t imagine living without my mobile GPS, Amazon Music, and connection to all of my online friends, the truth is that it often distracts me from what matters most. Who matters most: God. And the real-life friends He’s surrounded me with come in a distant third.
In Matthew 22:36–39, an expert in the Levitical law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” This man was really asking Him, “What matters most?”
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Nothing in my life has made loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind more difficult than my constant connection to my devices. The same is true when it comes to loving my real-life neighbors. Devices are divisive.
Ten years ago, I would wake up, stretch, and pick up my Bible from my bedside table. Well rested, I spent time with God at the start of each new day before seeing to the needs of my three young children. It was my morning routine. Today, however, the first thing I reach for is my phone. Though I promise myself, “I’m going to open my Bible app,” and often I do, my “quiet time” gets interrupted by noisy notifications from people I’m connected with online.
Before I know it, I’m checking email, and then I hop over to find out who liked my Instagram post from the previous night. As my shower heats up, I interact with the virtual friend who left me a message as I slept. At the start of each new day I communicate with those I “like” more than I do the One whom I love most, which begs the question, Do I truly love Him most?
I believe in my heart that I do. I love God more than I love all the people in the world (and all the people on the World Wide Web), but the habitual way I turn to the world testifies to my priorities.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Human history [is] . . . the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” Today in this digital age, with our smartphones, tablets, watches, and laptops beeping at us constantly, we are desperately looking for happiness. In Jeremiah 2:13, the Lord calls out: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
If you find yourself constantly thirsty for more, never quite satisfied no matter how often you go back to draw from the well of social media or online streaming and shopping, then you’ve likely been drinking from a well that was never meant to satisfy you. Like it or not, we all tend to forsake the spring of living water and dig our own cisterns. They’re broken and, as a result, so are we. Still, we keep at it. And the more broken we become, the more fervent our search for happiness.
Each ping, buzz, and notification triggers a dopamine release in our brains, synthetically creating a short sensation of happiness. We’ve become chemically and emotionally addicted to these short-lived highs. That’s why I’ve decided to put my foot down by putting my phone down, so that I might pick up the joy-inducing presence of God instead.
I’d venture to say that you originally picked up your phone as a resource to enhance your life, not to consume it. However, the brilliant people who designed Facebook, Instagram, and countless other social media sites are masterminds at cultivating addiction. Our online world has not evolved accidentally; it’s been engineered intentionally. I feel it personally as I pick up my phone one hundred-plus times a day. I see it in my children as they play online games and send snarky memes to friends. I witness it as my husband sets his phone faceup on the table as we gather for dinner as a family.
We’re all struggling to live in the moment as a result. We struggle to interact with those we love, because we’re chasing after those we “like.” We forget to actually smell the roses we’re busy taking pictures of. What’s more, the pixelated glow of our screens does not cause us to shine in the world as Christ called us to shine.
Those are a couple of the reasons I decided to take my first social media sabbatical. I wanted more than a fleeting feeling of happiness; I wanted lasting joy. So, I deleted the distractions and devoted myself to finding it. The first place I looked was up, and it turns out that looking up was the answer.
If you are ready to set down your phone for 40 days in order to lift up your eyes and experience the joy and peace available to you, let me invite you to go on this radical, counter-cultural, hope-inducing journey!
Find out more about The 40 Day Social Media Fast at 40daysocialmediafast.com.
We would love to hear how social media has served as a distractor or deterrent in your life, or conversely, how it has enhanced your life for the better, in the comments below.
About Wendy Speake
Wendy Speake is the author of The 40-Day Sugar Fast and The 40-Day Social Media Fast and host of the annual online sugar fast. She also co-authored the popular parenting book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Benefits of Taking a Break from Social Media – Episode 85, Wendy Speake is giving away a free copy of her book, The 40-Day Social Media Fast: Exchange Your Online Distractions for Real-Life Devotion.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about the need for taking a Social Media Fast and you will be entered into the contest.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, December 7, 2020, here on this post. Continental United States only.
(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).