It’s no secret how much I love photos. Pre-marriage, pre-motherhood, 13-year-old Chelsea dubbed herself an unprofessional photographer. When I downloaded Instagram in 2012 (almost 10 years ago!), it fueled this happy habit. I was there for sharing moments and capturing memories and it was GREAT.
In the past 5 years I have taken multiple long breaks from the app, guarding my heart and attention and mental health. I’ve shared many times about the tension I feel with it. Lately I find myself opening it more out of default than with purpose, and once Instagram’s CEO came out with his announcement, the question was clear, is it still the place for the bulk of my energy?
“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app. The number one reason people say that they use Instagram, in research, is to be entertained. So people are looking to us for that.”VIA
What also catapulted me over the ledge was the change in online engagement related to my Beautycounter work. I don’t have a desire to “keep up” with Instagram’s algorithm, and the pressure and clamor for more eyes is not worth the amount of energy it would take to stay on top. The way the app is designed to work and my capacity aren’t a great fit, and I’m okay with that, though I have had my share of disappointment over it. Because it is a big bummer when friends aren’t seeing your content because of the algorithm. BUT, I feel excited and recharged about putting energy into means of engaging that are life-giving to me — meaningful connections through email, in-person conversations and notes in the mail — while trusting God with the growth.
I heard an author say once to spend more time in spaces you own than in spaces you rent. I can’t stop creating and writing, and I can’t stop wanting to inspire and life others others. God wired me this way and I love it. In her book Unseen, Sara Hagerty writes, “God has created each of us for greatness. Not the greatness of a stage or a title or a degree, though He may use those things in our lives. He may even let the applause of others encourage us and help us grow. But the sweetest greatness starts with being rooted, being made and nurtured in secret, being seen by God alone.”
We are tempted by a desire for greatness that can be measured. We are tempted by the lie that our story matters because it garners a lot of attention. I admit, there is a slight sadness in me over not as many friends reading my words if I’m not on Instagram or Facebook. We want to be seen and known. I want to share my life with God with whoever wants to hear it, haha. Which is why I’m extra thankful for this blog, a real joy and small online offering to the world, and feel God’s smile with it, but even it is secondary to my offline life.
Questions for us to ask about our social media sustainability:
- Does your time spent on social media add or subtract from your life? And does it make you a healthier or unhealthier you?
- How do you feel when you close the app? Inspired? Envious? Anxious? Maybe you need a break.
- Inventory for your soul: What crowds God and His inspired words out? What invites God and His inspired words in?
- Are you posting out of pressure or out of purpose? Follow the lead of Jesus, not the expectations of the world.
- Are there areas of your life suffering because of the amount of time you spend online? Care for your home, pursuit of friendships in your church, breathing room for your own soul, etc.
So what is my plan? Logging off? Gone forever?
Not yet. But I do believe God is extending an invitation to me for a new focus for a season.
Years ago I created a social media mission statement: To the extent that it doesn’t hinder my relationship with God or until He leads me elsewhere, I will be active on social media to BUILD others up, SHARE life happenings for the fun and solidarity of it, and TESTIFY to the grace of having Christ yet wanting more of Him. Maybe this is the leading elsewhere, but the building others up, sharing life happenings and testifying to the wonder of Christ is what I’m still 100% joyfully about.
I’ll post adorable photos like this one and follow God’s leading on sharing words. I’m not anti-Instagram, but it’s changing and I’m changing, and I’m not mad about it.
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