The other week I felt extremely tense for a few days and could not for the life of me figure out why. Then, after many run-on sentences across my journal venting about it, it dawned on me:
The expectation to post online is putting pressure on you and it’s significantly wearying you.
You may be wondering, Who is putting expectations on you to post online? That seems a little silly. I quickly thought the same, and followed the thread, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to clarity.
A little detour. I have a deep-rooted habit of overanalyzing myself. To borrow Brad Bigney’s phrase in Gospel Treason, I’m “morbidly introspective.” (Jesus and I are working on it, and I’m happy to report it’s going pretty great so far.)
I also really enjoy writing about life with God, and being honest so someone might know they aren’t alone in what they’re feeling or experiencing. Instagram is a great vehicle for sharing those words. I live and learn something and then I write about it; this is my rhythm. And God has been gracious to make my offering of words useful for His Kingdom. I am extremely humbled and thankful every time someone comments with a ‘I needed this’ or ‘This is so helpful to me.’ It’s super cool when He connects dots between our hearts and lives. I love it.
But what slowly began to creep in was a pressure to hear from God, or to be learning something helpful for someone else, or to be able to articulate XYZ so I could write about it. There was no contentment in the ‘middle,’ no peace in what isn’t clear yet. An expectation was forming to always have something shareable and to always be confident in what I’m seeing or processing, alone or with the Lord.
Not to mention the temptation to compare it naturally promotes (not because people are intending their activity to be this way). Sometimes comparison causes you to realize you aren’t in a place with Jesus or your health or your family you genuinely want to be. In her teaching on Genesis 3, Jen Wilkin talks about sin’s common pattern: see it, desire it, take it and share it. For me, this applies to social media as well, and often doesn’t have the healthiest of outcomes. It might not result in sinful envy or jealousy or covetousness, but it might cultivate a heart of discontentment, self-focus or weariness in me.
So I took a week off.
And felt so free.
I didn’t realize the amount of pressure having an active online social life could inflict on a person, even with a hope and desire to glorify God in it, until I took it completely off the table. And I found I actually liked it.
The week also revealed just how much of an Enneagram 2 I really am (not that there was any doubt), because social media to me is like a tsunami of people’s needs I’m tempted to help meet and feelings I want to feel with them. Hours spent on social media each week was like a slow leak of energy and capacity I didn’t know was there.
God reminds me, I am always enough for you. Being active on Instagram is far from necessary to your life. And Peter’s question to Jesus comes to mind, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6:68)
After that week I knew I needed new boundaries, if only for a season, so I’ve set them. And I’m all smiles. Which leads me to questions for you: Does your time spent on social media add or subtract from your life? And does it make you a healthier or unhealthier you? Maybe you and Jesus need to draw up new boundary lines.