It’s not you, it’s me. Ok, it’s you too. But mostly, it’s me. It’s time for us to break up. Or perhaps more accurately and specifically, it’s time for me to step away from social media and custom news feeds. It may not be forever. But it needs to be so for now. I do not think that everyone everywhere should follow my lead. I fully believe that much good happens on these sites. Still, for me, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Here are my top five reasons for unplugging myself from the matrix.
1. I Am Too Self-righteous and Judgmental
“Join us at the totally awesome, super fun, church of the mega-overcomers, Milwaukee location!!”
Have you come across ads like that? I do all the time. And I judge the snot out of them. Seeing those ads is like adding gasoline to the self-righteous fire that burns in my soul. I just don’t need it.
The truth is: I actually think that I am better than them. And you, probably [Unless you’re reading this, Tim Keller]. Now, I don’t think that I am better than them, or you, at everything. Just the right things. The important things. The Holy things.
The more important truth is: I’m not better. I can’t even actually know if I am. But in my incessant desire to build a false identity on my “rightness”, I need to develop profiles in my mind of people who I can be righter than. Please forgive me.
If a drunk who wants to get sober ought not to hang out at a bar, I ought not to hang out online.
2. I am not strong enough to fight against the digital current that my heart created for me to feed on
After seeing the ad for the totally awesome, super fun, church of the mega-overcomers, I felt like God was leading me to take a week to unplug from social media and customized news feeds.
During this time, I think I started to be able to think again. I asked questions I hadn’t asked before. Questions I didn’t see other people posing. I noticed inconsistencies and hypocrisy in popular viewpoints.
Am I the first or only person to notice or question these things? Of course not. But the algorithms on our news feeds are designed to keep us coming back to whatever we will pay the most attention to.
When we hop online, nothing we see is random. It’s all tailor-made to keep us coming back to what is most likely to keep us coming back. It sucks us down a current that has nothing to do with reality or health.
I am not strong enough to fight against the digital current that my heart created for me to feed on.
3. Dumpster Fires are not Great Mission Fields
“Let’s be kind to the other side.”
Tim Keller tweeted something to that effect recently. And he got eaten alive for it. How in the world can anyone engage in meaningful, winsome, conversations in these environments?
Many Christians see the world wide web as a global and historic opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus’ sacrificial victory over sin and reconciling power. But it seems to me that many, if not most, wind up arguing with other Christians – who they have never met in person – instead of reaching those who do not yet know how much God loves them. So then not only are those who are not Christians not hearing the good news, what they see from Christians doesn’t look like good news.
God may call some to this. But as for me and my household, we are committed to building relationships with and caring for the neighbors that we can take a walk with.
4. Broken Ladders are Dangerous
I have been going through counseling with a biblical counselor.
It has been nothing short of transformational for me. One of the issues we’ve been working through is my “desire to be admired.”
Social media is a virtual mirage. It can make you feel like you’ve discovered a sea of approval. Potential. Your big break is just around the corner! But in reality, it’s a broken cistern filled with false promises. It breaks my heart that people I know and love have a significant online following – but those followers don’t help them pay any bills.
Followers, likes, hearts, and shares can make you feel like you’re climbing a ladder. But the ladder is broken. And the summit is false. The higher you climb, the more painful the inevitable fall. I just need to step off while I’m not being propped up.
5. Virtual reality VS Reality
As a pastor of a local church, I have been charged by God to “shepherd the flock that is among you.”
I have not been charged to shepherd a global online audience. Nor have I been called to be an Old Testament, fire-breathing and brimstone-throwing prophet toward those I creep online but don’t actually interact with.
During my media fast, I was preparing a sermon for a Sunday morning worship gathering. I had to delete an entire page worth of instruction. Why? Because I was going to go on a rant because of what I had seen on my newsfeed from people who are not a part of my church.
I am not discerning enough to know how to “feed my sheep” while looking at other flocks.
6. Really Here
I hope that as I step away from virtual reality that I will become more helpful and healthy in reality. If you have any interest in keeping up with me, I will still preach at Imago Dei Church and blog occasionally at idmke.com/blog.
Further, my family and I are going to continue to grind away on our next middle-grade book: Fart Dad: The Case of the Web of Words. I’ll keep the progress updated at fartdad.com.
Thank God that none of this has caught Him by surprise. Jesus became our sin – exposing our shame – so that we could become His righteousness. He was strong enough to absorb God’s wrath against the sin that our hearts have created, so that we could enjoy the love of God that we were created for.
Jesus threw Himself into the dumpster fire of our false desires so that we could be satisfied by God’s desire to glorify Himself in our lives.
Jesus was propped up on our cross so that we could be welcomed into His Kingdom. From eternity past, God saw our situation for what it really was. Desperate and without hope.
So Jesus offered the sacrifice that we really need – being separated from the love of God because of sin – so that we could be given unhindered, unending access to all we need – God Himself.
Through what Jesus has done we can have full confidence that God is really here. Immanuel. And because the Father had forsaken the Son on the cross – it is finished – we can know that God will never leave nor forsake us.