Maybe you’re one of the 1.5 billion Facebook, or 420 million Instagram, or 360 million Twitter users who can’t understand after you’ve spent the average daily 50 minutes on your social media platform of choice, you feel worse than you did before logging on. I couldn’t understand it either until I realized how these forms of “keeping up with old friends” somehow sucked the joy right out of my life. I wondered, “Why do I feel so bad?” My question needed an answer so after researching the subject I discovered 3 ways to reclaim joy after using social media.
But first, check out how you lost it in the first place…
Expectation of Social Media
Certain expectations from social media can easily lead to feeling rejected, cause a heightened sense of anticipation, followed by disappointment. Unfortunately, the expectation of performance leads to less joy.
Every time (and I mean it when I say every time) posting a picture, blog, or anything deeply personal on any social media platform, eventually, I feel rejection if it doesn’t get the kind of attention I think it should. I know it happens to you, too.
Because you’re seeking attention, you feel rejection when people don’t respond the way you expect. Especially overnight! I mean, certainly, all your friends re-tweeted that amazing video you posted or commented and loved your most recent picture or status update within 24 hours, right?
Wrong. Along with feeling rejected, you lose a little bit of your joy in the process.
Anticipation goes hand-in-hand with expectation and subsequently rejection because you anticipate automatic reception and love of your posts, tweets, pictures. You expect retroaction from other users and friends, because, heck, you give them support. If you use social media apps on your devices, you become linked in with the “edge-of-your-seat” anticipation hoping to get noticed.
I’ve been there. Often I felt the heightened sense of anticipation thinking, “this time they can’t miss me.” Anticipation, or heightened senses, steals your joy because of the expectancy of a particular response from people behind the screen. Looking forward to something causes you to miss out on the present, waiting for a reaction in the future.
Along with feeling anticipation, you lose a little bit of your joy in the process.
Disappointment hurts. Personally, I try not to set myself up in unexpected situations, but I can’t control everything! Since becoming a Facebook user in 2006, I experienced more disappointment than I ever expected but I couldn’t understand why.
Disappointment leads to a broken heart. I don’t know about you, but broken hearts filled my life! When you log on, read, comment, tweet, re-tweet, post, update and live within the virtual social media world, disappointment becomes a friend you and you cannot unfriend him. You expect certain reactions from certain people, just as in the case of rejection and anticipation. Your heart breaks at the denial of those expectations. In comes disappointment.
As you feel the sting of disappointment, you lose a little bit of your joy in the process.
Negativity from Social Media
Maybe you’re like me. You’re a positive person living in a cynical world. I grew up with a negative family. Although optimism seemed to be a central theme of my character my attitude came out all negative because of the oppression of negativity. I wondered as a young adult how I felt so confident even in those adverse situations. Well, a wonderful pastor once reminded me God’s grace covered me.
Negativity permeates social media. As a child, adverse actions, language, and behavior profoundly influenced your outlook on the world around you. The world of social media continues to affect you in the same way. Negative thinking leads to negative actions which result in negative consequences. But it all starts with the first thought.
What you see and read with your eyes gets into your mind. The more negative junk you take in, the more negative you feel. You start responding negatively, and eventually, your relationships fall apart – especially your relationship with Jesus. How can you go to him and worship him using a negative heart and mind? It isn’t possible. I’ve tried and failed many times. However, because of his mercy, I end up feeling lighter and less cynical after being in his presence. But, then I log onto Facebook. The entire process starts all over again.
The deeper it influences your life, the more negativity steals your joy.
Frustration in Social Media
Frustration. Just a nicer word for anger. You see a lot of anger all over social media platforms. Some platforms seem better than others, so anger is less apparent. But talking specifically about Facebook (since it has the highest number of users to date), anger is right there in your face and sometimes when you least expect it!
I maintain a calmness about me (if you knew me years ago, you couldn’t agree with that statement.) It has taken years of daily quiet time with God for me to receive the gift of calmness, so anger in any form feels like an assault. It’s hard to scroll past all the anger in Facebook because it comes in so many different forms. You can’t ignore the hate-filled meme or the video that automatically plays something horrible. It instantly insights frustration and anger within your very core. “Somebody’s gotta do something!” “This shouldn’t be happening!” How many times did this type of anger or offense rise within you? Because I’m on social media too, I can attest it happens many times.
Non-biblical anger quickly steals what little bit of joy you feel.
Ways to Reclaim Joy
The possibility to reclaim joy in any situation, including the joy you have lost over the years from using social media, isn’t as hard as you think. I used these steps over the last few years. I must admit that my joy is now back. Social media no longer controls how I think and feel about myself and the world around me.
~ Take a Step Back
When I found myself in the quagmire of emotion, I knew I needed a way out. I first took a step back and stepped out of all social media platforms. I logged off, deactivated, and deleted. Then I removed the apps that littered my digital devices. It made it harder for me to log-in on days when my addiction called to me to reactivate.
~ Find Truth
After stepping back and regaining an optimistic mind, I took a deep breath and searched for truth. The only place to find real truth is in the Word of God. My joy shattered, and I became desperate to get it back. Jesus revealed the path back from negative to positive thinking. I started acknowledging my real life hidden in him (Colossians 3:3). Also, I needed to focus on heaven and not on earth (Colossians 3:2). If you are struggling with your focus, check out my blog on the 3 Ways to Focus on the Things of Heaven.
You belong to Christ. God warns you to stay alert. The devil is looking for someone (you) to devour (with negative thoughts). Finally, He says, “Stand firm against him and be strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Beware of what you take in through your eyes – it quickly moves to your mind and changes your thinking.
Seek God and His Word for real truth.
~ Log Back On
Yes, that’s right. I said log back on. You must be surprised at the suggestion for you to rekindle your relationship with social media. Well, before you jump right back into it, you need a little bit more advice.
Log on, yes, but immediately go to the task of cleaning out. Do you need thousands of friends or a bazillion followers? Are these real friends? True fans? Do you know who you follow?
Three words for you: delete, delete, delete. Unfriend, unfollow, unlike. (Sorry, that’s three more words.) It’s not against the law. Most people you friend and follow don’t even know you, so I promise their feelings won’t get hurt. If it’s about the numbers for you, then go back to the “Find Truth” section above and get into God’s Word again, again…and again.
Once you’ve cleaned out, start surrounding yourself with the positive. When asked to become friends with someone, check out their profile and their connections before clicking yes. If possible, look at the types of Tweets they retweet, or comments they make, and pictures they post. Pray over clicking the accept button if you cannot determine if this person will help or hinder your joy. Stop going through life on autopilot.
Do you need to delete some accounts altogether? Here’s how you know: if you’re spending more time on social media, than spending alone time with God on a regularly consistent basis, you need to delete something. (NOT God). Social media addiction finds its way into every home. Don’t stay in the world of denial. Get help if you need it. Check into Christian-based addiction recovery programs, like Celebrate Recovery, with their focus on social media addiction.
I can’t say all social media is all wrong all the time. I mean, honestly, I use it to promote Debbie Birdsall Ministries and this blog. But, of the top three social media platforms, how many users, like you, handle these avenues positively?
Is it time to reclaim stolen joy from expectation, negativity, and frustration through the use of social media?
Know that after you have suffered only a little while – whether that means suffering from a broken world, or suffering because of what you put yourself through on social media – God restores joy.