I suppose we all have a relationship or two which falls into the “guilty pleasure” category. We know they aren’t a good influence. We rarely leave their presence feeling better about ourselves or the world in general. They make us a worse version of ourselves, and yet we just can’t bring ourselves to walk away. We make up all sorts of excuses for not cutting ties with them: we’ve known them for such a long time. Our mutual friends would feel awkward if we didn’t associate with them anymore. Or worse, our mutual friends might choose them over us. We are a good influence, and if we abandon them who will be left to offer a more enlightened perspective? We tell ourselves maybe they will change for the better.

And then one day, you’ve just had enough. A line is drawn that you just can’t cross. And you suddenly realize the futility of continuing in this relationship any longer. It’s like eating Rocky Road ice cream straight from the tub and praying it will magically turn into non-fat sugar-free frozen yogurt. Going no contact won’t be fun, but it’s time.

I have come to this place with social media, by which I am referring to Facebook and Instagram. I know these aren’t the only social media platforms out there, but these are the two with which I mostly frequently engage and with which I am officially breaking up. For a few years now, I have known FB and IG were a negative influence on my life. It wasn’t just the time wasted but the overall impact on my outlook that bothered me. When Jim left Taylor, I inadvertently walked away from posting for the most part. I’m not sure of all the reasons this happened, but I do know the co-mingling of friends and former friends in my network made me feel vulnerable online and I started just sharing pics here and there with friends through text. To minimize time spent online, I deleted my IG app and only accessed it via web browser. (If ever you doubted the intentionally manipulative design of social media, contrast the browser and app version of the experience. I can’t believe how much faster I exit IG and FB when I’m not plugged into the app.) I was more conscious or rather self-conscious about how much time I spent browsing. It also made me aware of the distraction it created in others, as I tried to engage with people whose eyes kept drifting to their phones. I have also started the absolutely radical behavior of leaving my phone in the car for church services, dinners out, and walks with the fam. Try this exercise and you will quickly realize what a lurking presence your and others phones are, even when turned upside down or in a pocket. Phones in this situation are like a rude, socially awkward third wheel, just waiting to interrupt and turn all eyes on them. Stop inviting them along! But I digress…

I noticed that this somewhat distanced relationship had me questioning why I would be involved with social media at all. I found myself asking questions like “Who is this post for? The person you are writing about or your “fanbase”? I was alarmed at the use of children as props for their parents’ “brand” and recognized that I have been guilty of doing the same. One of the kids asked me not to post pics of them from fun family events and would ask me “Why are you doing that?” which made me stand up and think “Yeah, why am I doing that?” The fact that I stopped posting for the most part during the dark season after Jim’s firing is a good indication that I was more interested in highlighting our happy seasons than transparently sharing real life with friends.

As my relationship with social media weakened, I could feel more clearly the impact on my state of mind when I did engage with it, generally walking away feeling fatter, uglier, less accomplished, and poorer while simultaneously feeling smug and judgmental. Not a good combo for the psyche.

Then this winter, Andrew’s school hosted a night with Dr. Leonard Sax, a prominent physician and psychologist, who opened my eyes even further to the negative impacts of social media on children. Not only was I participating in something harmful to myself, I was engaging with a dangerous organism which was being weaponized against the young and vulnerable. Jim and I spent time in prayer, repenting of having, in ignorance, exposed our kids to this malignant force and talking with our kids, most of whom are now young adults, about the impact this activity has had and is having on them.

With all of this, I still haven’t been able to walk away. That is until I heard of a Wall Street Journal article exposing the fact that Instagram “helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content…” What further motivation did I need to cut ties with IG? Maybe I was willing to ignore the cancerous impact it had on my productivity, my thoughts and even my children’s mental health. Sure IG is the gateway drug for pornography and a vast number of physical and mental disorders, but it’s so deliciously entertaining. But when confronted with this horrifying though hardly shocking article, how could I ignore that I was willingly partnering with a monster that doesn’t simply allow but promotes and profits from the sexual exploitation of children?

So I am breaking up with Instagram and Facebook. I will no longer post or monitor my accounts. I’m sure I will slip up every now and again or will peer over someone’s shoulder to watch a funny dog video or see who just got engaged. I’ll take it one day at a time and hopefully turn those days into months and years, but I am planning for an anti-social media life moving forward. An anti-social media life that is full of actual socializing and genuine and authentic engagement with friends.

As the saying goes, you do you. I don’t have any desire to judge others and their navigation through the complex “Metaverse” we find ourselves in. But I hope you will do so with your eyes wide open to the dangerous waters you are sailing through and prayerfully consider your course.


“O Trinity of love and power

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour

From rock and tempest, fire and foe

Protect them wheresoe’er they go.”

~William Whiting, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”

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