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7 ways to control social media before it controls you

media

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become major addictions for millions of people. Research shows that in 2018, the average person spent 2 hours, 16 minutes (136 minutes) a day on social media and similar platforms, and the numbers are increasing every year! Social media can be good, as it helps families and friends who are far apart stay in touch, but it can also be the source of adultery, bullying, political bickering, and other harmful practices. A wise person learns to control social media before it controls them. Here are seven ways:

  1. Set time limits and “off limits” times. You can adjust your settings on Facebook and Instagram so that they will notify you when you have been on the site for a certain amount of time. (I set mine to remind me at 30 minutes.) Stay off social media while at work or school. If people send you messages during work or school hours, wait until later to respond, and let them know that you are unavailable during work or class. When sitting down at a meal, agree with family and friends to put away your phones. Have “family time” that is off-limits to social media, such as 6-8 p.m.  daily-time-spent-social-networking
  2. Take precautions with the opposite sex. Social media is an easy medium for people of the opposite sex to have private conversations. Thus, married and engaged people in particular need to be intentional about taking precautions. My pastor, Dr. David Whitten, recommends that husbands and wives set up a joint account, or that they not make “friends” with the opposite sex unless they have a good reason for doing so, such as their own family members. Give your spouse your password, and give your spouse permission to approve or veto your friendship with members of the opposite sex.
  3. Turn off notifications. Tony Reinke in his book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, points out that a major reason for the addiction is how people get self-esteem from how many “Likes” they get. Some have suffered anxiety and depression if they fail to get the “Likes” they desire. Turning off the notifications shuts off these messages—it’s like throwing away the needle for a drug addict.
  4. Make spiritual disciplines a priority. When you rise in the morning, get out your Bible instead of your phone, and get on your knees to pray instead of getting on the computer to play. Make this your daily habit.
  5. Have a “day off” and a Sabbatical from social media. Christian blogger Tim Challies takes one day a week and one week a year to be completely off social media. If you don’t feel you can take an entire day, try staying off for 12 hours straight, and then lengthen the time the next week.
  6. Delete social media from your phone, and only use it on your computer. This is an excellent way to force yourself to stay off social media when at work, eating out, etc. Let people know that if they need to reach you, they can text or call!
  7. Set other healthy goals and pursue them. Keep a good book (and The Good Book) handy and set goals for minutes reading. Get a bicycle, join a gym, go walking, plant a garden, and make these healthy exercises a priority. The best way to overcome a bad addiction is to acquire a healthy addiction!
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Is gluttony as bad as drunkenness?

GluttonyWe rarely equate beer with banana pudding, but scripture says nearly as much about gluttony as it does about drunkenness. The Bible teaches that all addictions have the same basic effect: they destroy your mind, your money and your mood.
Look at the warnings in Proverbs against these two addictions: drunkenness and gluttony.
1. Your mind. Your mind will be led astray and deceived.
“Wine is a mocker, beer a brawler, and whoever staggers because of them is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1, HCSB).
“If you are the type who eats too much too fast, do whatever is necessary to curb your enthusiasm for food.” (Proverbs 23:2, The Voice Translation)
2. Your money. Your addiction will drain your finances and leave you poor. “Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine or with those who gorge themselves on meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor…” (Proverbs 23:20-21, HCSB)
3. Your mood. You will suffer sorrow and disgrace. You will descend into depression if you persist in feeding your addiction.
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? … Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine…” (Proverbs 23:29-30, NIV).
“…a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.” (Proverbs 28:7, HCSB).

We are not able to overcome our addictions until we first see how much they hurt us and others. The reason we become addicted to something is because we like how it makes us feel. Do we want to lose control of our minds? Do we want to lose our money? Do we want to descend into depression? If not, then we need to break free from our addictions, whatever they are. The first step is to recognize that the problem is real. We need to stop making excuses like, “I’m just a social drinker,” or, “It’s only food, and I have to eat.” The second step is to call on the Higher Power of Jesus Christ to give us victory. For most people with addictions, we will need a third step of counseling and/or a support group.
Don’t wait—do it today!

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