Impeccably Bad Timing
After a twelve year love-hate relationship with Facebook, I have decided to permanently deactivate my account. Due to my impeccably bad timing, some may view this as a political statement. I assure you it is not. Rather, eliminating social media from my life will result in more in-person conversations with friends as well as contribute to the kind of person I hope to become.
I realize this post might come off as the blogosphere equivalent of a pharisaical sounding of the trumpet. But I share the reasons for my departure so that you hear it from me. Of course, I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope that others would take the plunge with me.
Garden Variety Reasons
My reasons for leaving are the usual suspects.
- It’s distracting and time consuming.
- It’s the overtly political, hyperpartisan status updates.
- It’s the information overload factor.
Beyond this, I believe our souls are withering under the perpetual blast of flickering images, skimmed articles, and click bait masquerading as objective journalism. All this is unhealthy in multiple ways.
To state the obvious, our minds weren’t meant to process this much data. Secondly, scanning blogposts as opposed to careful reading and patient reflection is not only a bad habit but leads people to reach conclusions without deliberate humility and caution.
That increasing numbers of people in our culture—both inside and outside the church—are more excited about their political opponents getting “owned” in a debate than they are about listening well is not a good sign. A steady diet of crude prose, crass arguments, and coarse language will form citizens incapable of self-restraint and rational interchange. Much of the online nastiness (what John Suler calls “the online disinhibition effect”) is spilling over into our public debates, though admittedly it’s a bit of a stretch to call these unedifying spectacles “debates.”
Which brings me to another point: Social media platforms are not conducive to serious conversations—the kind I hope to have. In fact, conversations rarely, if ever, take place. Everyone’s always in Refutation Mode. As the late economist J. K. Galbraith (1908–2006) once noted, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.” That’s all I see on Facebook.
C. S. Lewis’s description of hell in The Scewtape Letters sounds eerily similar to what I encountered on social media: “. . . everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement . . . everyone has a grievance . . . everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.”
So, would you pray for me?
To cultivate a calm and quiet heart (Psalm 131:2).
To become a better listener (James 1:19).
To restrain my speech (Prov. 16:23).
To encourage rather than tear down (Prov. 18:14; Eph. 4:29–32).
May I be “shorn and purified, as if tonsured.”
 See John Suler, “The Online Disinhibition Effect,” CyberPsychology & Behavior 7:3 (2004): 321–326, as cited in Alan Jacobs, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (New York: Currency, 2017), 80.
 C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (London: Macmillan, 1962), ix.
 Jane Kenyon, “August Rain, After Haying,” in Otherwise: New & Selected Poems (St. Paul: Graywolf, 1996), 181.
Thank you, Joe. You have certainly thought this through. I have to agree with you. What a shame that people have lost the art of conversation. In regard to the comment about our minds not being meant to process that much data, your mind has always amazed me. Your ability to remember what you have read accurately is phenomenal. We at Calvary were blessed by your mind. Thank you.