On Monday, The Washington Post published a piece quoting former Facebook VP, Chamath Palihapitiya, on the “tremendous guilt” he feels over his participation in the way social media has dissolved “the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”
“Social media is destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops,’” he added.
Whoa! Destroying society? Those are some fightin’ words.
Of course, we all know the problem is not just isolated to Facebook, but the smart phone era certainly has triggered our perpetual need for stimuli. A study released earlier this year revealed: the more we respond to the social media stimuli, the lonelier we feel.
Y’all have heard me rant about this in For Sabbath’s Sake.
Sabbath, which, in my view, includes reclaiming our time for rest, solitude, worship, devotional practices, spiritual practices, and for community—is the solution to an awful lot of modern woes.
I know sabbath is not a one-stop-shop for solving all our tech issues, nor is it the be-all-end-all answer to healthy living in a 24/7 world. But it’s a fantastic start.
Since the book launched in October, it’s been non-stop. Travel, conferences, retreats, book signings, podcast interviews. The word is spreading; folks are gifting sabbath this holiday season; churches are offering studies and retreats on it, and we even began a #ForSabbathsSake revolution by “tattooing” ourselves with the message.
For Sabbath’s Sake is making fantastic waves—and it’s not because of me. It’s because God has given us all an ancient practice that can soothe contemporary chaos. We—even former Facebook executives—are finally waking up to it.
Palihapitiya’s statement makes it clear: a social deficit looms. We long for time set apart for connecting IRL (in real life), and it’s clear we need it. But, what’s less clear is how we get there. (If you need some direction on how to start, click here.)
The end-of-year presents a unique opportunity. Most Americans have at least two days off between now and January 2nd, 2018. But many do not. Paid vacation (or even the day off) is a mark of privilege in our retail-frenzied, Starbucks-is-open-on-Christmas society. But, with privilege comes responsibility: how can those who have days off do something other than plug in? How might our days off become sabbath, or sacred time? How might this sacred time liberate others to embrace their own sabbath practices?
My mother loved the last ten days of every year. While most folks ran around preparing for Christmas, then dealing with the post-Christmas blues, she slowed down to lean in: what do the remaining days of each year teach us?
We can’t know unless we’re still. We can’t make connections with ourselves, God, and loved ones unless we say no (even if temporarily) to the “dopamine-driven feedback loops” of social media and stress-inducing reality of emails.
But what kind of sabbath expert am I if I don’t practice what I preach?
So, I’m saying it: “No.”
Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 through January 1st, 2018, I’m taking a social media and email fast. I will place a sabbath auto-responder on my email account. I will temporarily delete all social media apps from my smart phone. For eleven days, I will say “NO” to the constant deluge of stimuli and “YES!” to sabbath.
Why am I doing this?
I cannot reflect on the big stuff of this year (my mother’s unexpected death in August, her cat’s death in November, and my swimming in a sea of grief) while I’m tethered to the very thing that has the power to hijack my brain. I need a break—even if it’s just for 11 days. We all do.
Join me. And help keep me accountable. How will you say “No,” this month?
Whether you choose to do a social media and email fast or not, remember this: the holiday season is about presence, not presents. How will you practice presence? What might you fast from? How will you say “No!” to all forces vying for your attention?
Say “Yes!” to sabbath instead. Start here.
Get a head start on 2018! Coming soon: The Upper Room For Sabbath’s Sake eCourse. Purchase today for you or a loved one so you can begin 2018 with the practice of sabbath.