For another perspective on social media, read Joanna Kimbrel’s “Why I’m Staying on Social Media.”
Nine months ago, right in the middle of recording a podcast about social media, I quit social media.
Before I deleted my accounts, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I’d feel sad or lonely or out of touch. I wondered if I’d be able to stay off. Professionally, it can be helpful to see what your sources are up to online. And there are some beautiful things happening there—connections made, Scripture explained, joy shared, help asked for and received. Did I want to permanently cut myself off from all that?
But here’s the honest truth—not once in 40 weeks have I wished I was back on. I’ve lived through summer vacations, my birthday, and now the holidays without posting pictures or reading messages or watching old friends make life changes.
For sure, I’m missing stuff. But I have no plans or desire to ever go back—because my life is so much better than I remembered it being before I joined social media.
Why I Got On
I created my Facebook account when I was 27 years old. As a young mom, and then as a homeschooling mom, social media was a way to (virtually) be with my friends, to share what my family was doing, and to celebrate or commiserate with others who were doing the same thing. It felt like I was rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).
My life is so much better than I remembered it being before I joined social media.
It was years before I noticed social media wasn’t as great as I thought it was. The older my kids got, the weirder it felt to share things about them, so I largely stopped. It seemed self-promotional to share the work I was doing, so I slowed down (Prov. 27:2). And nobody wanted to know what I thought about hot topics, so I never wrote about them (Prov. 17:28).
At this point, I was down to lurking, which meant I didn’t get any fun dopamine hits from interactions with my posts. Even then, I couldn’t quit. Because what if something happened and I couldn’t see it?
Why I Got Off
In my research, I’ve learned it usually takes a momentous event for someone to shut down a social media account—we need a kick to get us over our internal objections. My first small kick came from reading Emily Jensen’s insightful chapter in Social Sanity in an Insta World. She listed symptoms I recognized—including reaching for social media to fill any time gaps, having trouble focusing on longer reading, and feeling persistent low-level anxiety.
My bigger kick came as I was talking with insightful, godly Gen Z girls about the ways they were tangled in social media. In them, I could see how little social media was giving and how much it was taking. And I knew it was doing the same thing to me.
It was humbling to leave—I had to admit I wasn’t strong enough to go up against the algorithm. I couldn’t resist the dopamine hits I got from the anticipation of checking in. I kept trying to update my page or keep up with others but could never fully succeed; social media is, in David Allen’s terms, a loop that can’t be closed.
It was humbling to leave—I had to admit I wasn’t strong enough to go up against the algorithm.
I wanted to handle social media well. But I couldn’t.
Finally, it dawned on me that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there at all. Maybe there were people equipped for social media in a way I was not. My friend Laura can go days without checking. Her emotions aren’t tied to it the way mine are or whatever she writes. And God is blessing her ministry there in a beautiful way.
But that wasn’t true of me. Even if I tried to log on with a generous and gracious spirit, I would feel impatient or bored with the other posts. The ones that were interesting didn’t leave me feeling the fruits of the Spirit but rather sharp anger or frustration that led to ill-informed judgments of others. When I got off, I wasn’t ever kinder, smarter, wiser, or more enamored of the Lord than I’d been before.
So I got rid of everything—Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Why I’m Staying Off
Emily was right. Social media was affecting her—and me—in negative ways. I know because since I’ve gotten off, I’ve had more time and more energy. I’ve been able to think more clearly, organize myself more effectively, and do a noticeably better job at home and at work. I’ve been able to read the Bible, and other books, without getting bored. I pay more attention to my family, and I enjoy them more. My persistent low-level anxiety has disappeared. I’m more relaxed and more patient. I’m far more intentional with my choices, and not once have I prioritized what would look good on social media over what’s actually good. (I could go on and on. If you want to hear more, I told Collin Hansen all about it on the Gospelbound podcast.)
Now I’m not worried about what somebody is saying on social media. I’m not stressed about things I can’t do anything about. I’ve been able to miss hundreds of Twitter fights and avoid dozens of gossipy conversations. And I’ve skipped comparing my real life to someone else’s Insta life.
I love living like this. Certainly, I’m missing out on a few things. But what I’ve gained—in sheer joy, in improved concentration, in sensitivity to the Lord’s leading—tips the scale so far it’s falling over.
For me, this was the right choice. It might not be the right decision for you. But given the average American spends two hours a day on social media, it’s worth at least thinking about why you’re there—and whether you should be.