I Changed My Mind About Social Media: Why I Decided to Quit

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On December 16th, 2023, I permanently deleted all my social media accounts.

That may sound like a drastic decision, but I did not approach this choice rashly.

In this post, I will explain what led me to this decision, why I didn’t do it sooner, and specifically how I thought about the choice to leave social media as a Christian seeking to steward my life well for the glory of God.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that every believer must quit social media. My situation may be different than yours. I consider this choice more of a matter of wisdom and conviction rather than sin. But I did come to this decision as a Christian, which is to say though there are many reasons people may choose to quit social media, I was driven to this primarily by biblical principles and a desire to run the race faithfully, “laying aside every weight” (Hebrews 12:1–2).

I will explain my reasoning below. But it might be helpful to begin with a little bit of my background because I did not take this decision lightly. In fact, this change in stance regarding social media represents a massive about-face for me personally and professionally.

Background: My Early Relationship with Social Media

I was an early proponent of Christians leveraging social media for gospel advancement and the dissemination of discipleship resources. In fact, it’s been somewhat of a theme in my life and ministry.

Social Media & World Missions

My first job out of college was as a social media coordinator for an international missions organization. This was back in 2009, the early days of social media. In that role, I saw firsthand the potential for social media to advance the cause of world missions.

Social Media & Blogging

In the early 2010s, I witnessed how social media could help me reach people with my writing. Several of my blog posts went viral, solidifying in my mind the benefits of this new age of the connected internet, which people were calling Web 2.0 at the time.

Even in the early days of Redeeming Productivity, social media enabled me to reach people with my writing on personal productivity from a Christian perspective.

The Babylon Bee

In 2016, while attending seminary, I was writing articles for what was then just a small Christian satire website a friend of mine had started. At first, I thought it was strange when I would overhear other students laughing about a Babylon Bee article, having no idea I had written it. I’d wonder, “How do these guys even know about that website?”

It turned out that Facebook was the engine that turned a little satirical website into a cultural force, ironically changing the face of social media forever.

I saw that potential firsthand, and I took note.

Grace to You

Again, in 2019, I saw the benefits of social media put toward slightly more serious ends. As I stepped into my role as the Director of Digital Platforms for Grace to You, social media was a big part of helping us reach millions of people worldwide with Pastor John MacArthur’s Bible teaching.

How could I quit after seeing so much of the good social media used for? Indeed, it was during this time that I recorded podcasts, wrote articles, and advised other believers and ministries about how to better leverage social media for kingdom work.

Still, I was starting to see problems with my own use of social media.

Personal Stakes to Quitting

I think it was reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism in 2019 that first got me thinking seriously about quitting social media.

In that book, he exposes what a distraction social media really is and encourages readers to reckon with the very real trade-offs they make by using these platforms. He got me thinking about not just the way social media affected my focus but I took his arguments further and began to consider how it might also be affecting my spiritual life.

But I was too entangled to quit back then. There were simply too many personal and professional consequences.

I needed to be on the platforms, I told myself. I needed to know how they worked for my job. I needed to use them if I wanted anyone to read my writing. I needed social media if I was ever going to get a publisher to pick up one of my book proposals.

The stakes went even higher when I started doing Redeeming Productivity full-time in 2021. I wanted to equip believers with resources to help them better steward their lives for God’s glory. How was I supposed to reach people without social media?

If I choose not to be on social media, would I effectively be killing Redeeming Productivity—a ministry I believe is truly serving Christians and also happens to be the sole source of income for my family?

Besides all of that, I still wanted to hold onto the idea that I could find a way to limit the downsides of social media while exploiting the upsides for ministry purposes. But after trying everything from site-blockers to scheduling posts to Screen Time settings, Focus Modes, and beyond, I finally concluded that, at least for me, the negatives of being on social media outweighed the positives.

Social media simply wasn’t something I wanted to participate in anymore. And I would have to trust the Lord for whatever consequences that might bring to me.

But let me explain the exact negatives that convinced me to change my mind and finally quit social media forever.

Why I Finally Quit Social Media

Despite believing I was genuinely using social media for good, I eventually had to reckon with the fact that social media was hindering my faithfulness personally.

I was spending too much time on it; it occupied too much of my attention, hindered my focus, stirred me to sin, was a perpetual source of discouragement, and drew me to dwell on trivial matters.

Once I went through all of the downsides and reckoned with the fact that all of my efforts to limit these downsides for the sake of ministry had failed, I reasoned that it was time for me to go. After all, if plucking out eyeballs and severing hands was on the table for the sake of holiness (Matthew 5:29–30), why should deleting a social profile be off the table?

These are the five ways I found social media to be a hindrance to my faithfulness. And why I concluded that, at least for me, these costs outweighed all of the potential benefits of staying on social media.

1. Social media was a hindrance to focus

I want to live a life of faithfulness. I want to walk in the good works the Lord has prepared for me in advance (Ephesians 2:10). I want to be an effective steward of this short life.

That requires focus.

Social media is an enemy of focus by design. Their goal is to keep you on their platform for as long as possible. Day by day, their algorithms get better and better at farming our attention for ad revenue. Whatever potential benefit social media might offer me with one hand, I came to see that it was taking it back from me with the other.

2. Social media was a hindrance to joy

Life is full of ups and downs. And the fight to have joy in the midst of the many trials and tribulations we face is constant. It requires keeping a laser focus on the Lord, His promises, and purposes.

But one thing that wasn’t helping me fight for joy? When my social media feed would back up like a dump truck and unload seven metric tons of discouragement on my timeline. This was a daily occurrence.

The constant barrage of negative news stories exhausted my empathy, drained me of joy, and left me with little emotional energy in the tank for real-life relationships.

Sadly and ironically, however, the biggest discouragements on social media for me turned out to be from other believers. The constant infighting, gossip, slander, and pugnaciousness I saw on Twitter were especially exhausting. You have pastors and aspiring pastors saying things on social media daily that ought to disqualify them from ministry according to 2 Timothy 3, but doing it in the name of defending the faith. It was genuinely heartbreaking.

Call me soft, but I have enough battles with discouragement in my own life with my own church family. I don’t need to read shriekings about the latest doctrinal controversy du jour from some feral-tongued seminarian who thinks slandering his brothers in Christ is what Jude meant by defending the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

3. Social media was a hindrance to worship

Social media platforms are designed to addict. And as I argued in my book on Video Games, addiction problems are actually worship problems.

We Christians joke about being addicted to our phones or social media, but it’s no laughing matter. The problem with what we call addiction is that we are submitting ourselves to another master who is not the Lord Jesus Christ.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12

Social media is lawful, but I found it unhelpful. And worse yet, I found that it was dominating me. Despite my best efforts, I was not in control of how often I used it. And this, I recognized, was a worship problem.

4. Social media was a hindrance to holiness

We are called to be holy as he is holy. Yet social media is a hotbed of all manner of temptations to sin.

There are the more obvious temptations, like lust, of course. But there are also many other sins that social media can tempt us to that are no less serious. The temptation to gossip, for example, whether you are the one spreading it or just consuming it. Or take discontentment or the love of money. If all day you see photos and stories of people who have what you want, it’s hard to keep an attitude of contentment. It may even manifest in full-on covetousness, an unlawful desire, or something that is not yours. That’s one of the Ten Commandments

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Exodus 20:17

People often complain of feeling kind of yucky after scrolling social media. But what if you feel yucky because you just spent 30 minutes scrolling temptations to sin in your heart?

We are told to flee temptation. Yet with every swipe, we willingly subject ourselves to it.

5. Social media was a hindrance to eternal-mindedness

Social media has a way of magnifying the insignificant.

The older I get, the more I am interested in investing myself in things that last. Social media favors the ephemeral over the eternal. And it trains you to dwell on the trivial instead of the lasting. Today’s controversy seems like a HUGE deal. But it has little bearing in a week, much less a year, much less 10,000 years.

I want to think in terms of eternity. I want to invest in relationships with real people in real life. I understand that you can affect people for eternity using social media. But for me, the question became, “At what cost?” As finite creatures, we have to view everything in terms of trade-offs. And I didn’t like the trade-off.

What’s more, for all the ways I might serve people on social media by creating content, I was also encouraging them to spend more time on these platforms and risk the same hindrances I was experiencing. This was the one that finally put me over the edge, and made me decide to quit fully and finally.

You’re allowed to quit.

When I floated the idea of leaving social media to some people, I initially got pushback.

“You can’t leave.”

As if I were obligated to be on social media as a believer. Even some of the books I read from Christian authors examining the problems with social media, usually included a caveat saying Christians have a responsibility to be on these platforms. But the more I read these arguments, the less I agreed with them.

And I get it because I have said similar things in the past when I was advocating for Christians to be a positive influence on social media. And I do still believe that if you do choose to be on social media, you do have an obligation to live like a Christian on them. But I don’t think it follows that every Christian is required to be on social media, especially if it proves to be a hindrance to us.

Am I glad that believers are using social media to reach the lost and resource Christians? Certainly! But am I obligated to participate personally in every type of ministry there is, including social media ministry? No.

One body, many members (1 Corinthians 12:12–31).

This took me a long time to come to terms with. So I just want to say it to you: If you’re at this stage where you’re ready to quit social media but you’re hanging on because you feel some sense of obligation to participate in “the town square of the internet” as a Christian, know this: You are allowed to quit.

If it is proving to be a hindrance to your faithfulness, you are not obligated to stay. One might even argue you are obligated to leave.

We have limited time. And I, for one, want to prioritize what matters and not be mentally and spiritually fragmented all the time. I want to produce work that lasts, meditate on what matters, and live a focused life. And in my experience, social media, for all its many benefits, stands opposed to those goals. So I willingly forsake social media’s potential benefits in favor of a life of depth, focus, and faithfulness.

That’s why I quit social media.

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