Rejecting Formation By Feeds

Yesterday, I deleted or deactivated almost all of my social media accounts — 500px, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Removing myself from these feeds was a difficult decision, especially Facebook. Having been on that platform for years, I have so many people from my past and present that I enjoy following. I have watched them and their families grow, laughed at their memes, cheered at their successes, cried in their tragedies and even deaths, and prayed for them as they shared their life events.

I’ve also enjoyed writing anniversary and birthday messages for my wife and kids. My greatest joy is being Debbie’s husband and being Michael’s, Catherine’s, Danielle’s and Christopher’s dad. I want the world to know how much I love and cherish them and how highly I think about them.

There were a number of factors that played into this decision, but two stand out. One reason is I didn’t like how I turned to my social media feeds during down-time moments. Rather than turning to images and posts, I want my internal default to turn to activities like prayer, reflection, reading and writing. And I also want to be more aware of God and people in the moment. That’s very difficult to do when I’m staring at my phone.

Another reason is too much noise has accumulated in my life. It seems like everything is a rapidly scrolling feed of images and ideas, competing for attention before it’s quickly replaced by something else. It’s like standing at the top of a waterfall and trying to focus on the objects quickly passing by and plummeting over the falls. And if I had anything to contribute, no matter how important or meaningful it might be to me, it was simply swept away among the other items.

I remember when blogs were “the thing” twenty years ago. When I received a notification that someone I followed had posted, I would carve out some time and slowly read through their post, mulling over what they had written. Yet over the last several years, it seems like this has been replaced by rapid-fire sound bites, links to videos and news articles, memes, and the like. While many of these items may be important, their meaningfulness is drowned out by the dizzying frenzy of hundreds of items spinning by. I found I had no time to enjoy and reflect on everything bombarding me through my feeds. This is the primary reason I have left my friends’ blogs on this blog’s navigation panel. While they’ve been silent for years, I like to return to them and reread their posts.

Add to that the hacking, advertisements, changing algorithms and the impending election cycle, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a comment about anyone who remains on Facebook or the other social media feeds. This is something I need in my continual formation into Christlikeness. Everything forms us. And the formation from my feeds seemed to be contrary to the formation I’m pursing.

So, is this a permanent decision? I don’t know. At this point I want to say it will be permanent. But I don’t know what the future holds. I’ve taken short breaks from social media in the past and found the experience to be refreshing and refocusing. But I always knew these hiatuses were temporary. This feels different.

I have deleted my 500px and Flickr accounts, so they’re permanently gone. Because I have more personal history invested in Twitter and Facebook, I simply changed my password, logged out, and deleted the apps on my phone and bookmarks on my browsers. And I’ve decided to remain on Instagram (although I’ve deleted the app from my phone) and Youtube since I still draw some inspiration and instruction from those platforms for my photography. But I may eventually remove myself from those platforms as well.

My goal is to revisit this decision in 9 to 12 months. If this decision has made a positive impact, then I will probably permanently delete my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Moving forward, I will invest my activity into my two blogs — this one and my photoblog. These are slower-paced opportunities to reflect and write. I don’t have any desire to increase engagement here. These blogs are simply a quiet, obscure corner of the internet where I can record the things rumbling around inside of me as well as the important moments of my life.

And hopefully when I look back on this decision, I will have discovered that rejecting formation from my feeds contributed significantly to my ongoing journey home.

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