I’m not very good at vacation. I know I’m not alone in this regard. Some people just can’t get work out of their heads. Some people, like me, have a hyperactive sense of responsibility. Humility requires, however, an understanding that God’s good work in the world doesn’t depend upon our working ourselves to death. When we take time for rest and renewal, the world will keep spinning, and it’s quite likely that when we return to our work things will be much the same as when we left.
So… I’ve been taking some vacation and trying to be very intentional about disconnecting from work.This has also meant taking a serious break from social media. For me, that’s a break from Twitter, Facebook, and particularly blogging. I got the idea from a blog post by Chad Holtz in which he said that a social media break helped him to think more clearly and optimistically. I haven’t taken a four-week break as he suggested. It’s been about two. I can tell you, though, that he’s right about this.
It used to be that friends would sit together, perhaps in a pub, perhaps in Sunday school or around the dinner table, share their thoughts and listen to what was on the mind of the other. This was called conversation. It involved mutual interaction and exchange of ideas, and it seems harder to come by these days. Conversation is of course possible on the internet. I have had some meaningful and formative interactions with friends in the blogosphere over my years of blogging. Much of what appears on social media, however, is not conversation, nor is it intended as such. Social media can become a dumping ground for anxiety, fear, and anger. Whereas in an earlier time we might have experienced the troubles and trepidation of others in more personal interactions, we now encounter negative emotion en masse. Much of this negative emotion is expressed in extremely unhealthy ways, such as verbal temper tantrums and name-calling. I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think most of us are wired to receive this much negative input. Social media offer new ways of interacting with others, and as we become ever more aware of their strengths, we should also be cognizant of their liabilities.
I enjoy blogging. I hope my blog posts make helpful contributions to some ongoing conversations in the church. Every once in a while, though, I plan to take a social media sabbath. For others of you out there in the blogosphere, or who spend significant time in other forms of social media, I would encourage the same.