Social media: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Or that’s how it feels. Facebook, Twitter, blogs—I think most of us have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. While we enjoy the benefits they bring to us, we also see how they seek to dominate our lives. Many of us now live much of life through the lens of our social media, as if we haven’t actually experienced something until we’ve tweeted it or blogged about it or posted pictures of it on Facebook. It’s a strange phenomenon. And it’s a phenomenon that can quickly and easily dominate our lives.
The big question I ask in my book The Next Story is this: do you own your technology or does your technology own you? It’s an important question and one we would all do well to wrestle with when it comes to our social media. So let’s talk about how we can own our social media habits.
One very helpful place to begin is with quantifying your social media usage. It is far more likely that you are underestimating than overestimating the scope of your social media usage. For some reason we seem to have a kind of blindness to the reality of how much we actually use our devices and browse our favorite web sites. It is difficult to accurately measure it, but it is good to at least make the attempt. All of those 15 minute visits to Facebook may add up to several hours a day and many hours a week. When people begin to quantify their television habits they typically underestimate by a couple of hours per day. I’m convinced the same is true of social media time.
It’s also useful to ask your spouse or your children or your parents. “Am I using my computer too much? Am I on Facebook too much?” Ask them to help you quantify your usage. Even if their assessment is subjective, it is still useful. If your wife says you are using the computer too much, you probably are.
There is no objective answer to the question “How much is too much?” But simply looking at the data can be shocking and revealing—perhaps even humbling and humiliating. So quantify it and ask if you are faithfully redeeming the time given to you.
One of the main reasons I wrote The Next Story is that I realized I had a woefully underdeveloped understanding of media and technology. I was not thinking about these things in a distinctly Christian way. It was my own search to remedy this that led me to begin writing a book. The research I did gave me a very helpful understanding of why technology is the way it is. Suddenly a lot of things made a lot of sense. I began to understand why every good technological gift seems to come with an opposite problem. I began to see how even something like a blog or a Facebook account could subtly change me.
So invest the time in seeking to gain a little bit of theoretical knowledge of technology and invest the time in beginning to form a theology of technology. Both of these will pay dividends.
(I know may be a bit of a pitch for my book, but I do think you’ll get some benefit. Plus, for the next month you can get the audiobook for free)