Most days my mornings beginning roughly the same: I get up, make the kids their breakfast and then sit down to drink my coffee while reading the news. My interaction with the news is not through a physical paper but is filtered through the News and Twitter apps on my phone. Because of this, my reading of the news was not limited to news but included commentary (tweets and retweets) from the hundreds of people I had chosen to follow on Twitter.
I recently realized that engaging with the news in this way was becoming a huge distraction in my life. This is because reading the news in the morning was never enough. I would be drawn back throughout the day to see the latest comments on that news – whether funny, snarky, angry or thoughtful. It got to the point where every hour or so I felt a need to check twitter to see the latest. Further, with my phone charging next to my bed I found myself reaching for it first thing in the morning. Again, I justified this by saying I wanted to check the weather. Or maybe someone texted me something important while asleep. But my groggy half awake self was already diving into the news of the day as presented on Twitter.
I recently read Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Warren and I believe every single Christian, or perhaps any person, could benefit by reading it. It is one of my favorite books, and probably one of the most practical, I have read in a long time. She writes about the spiritual practices that shape us, such as how we spend the early moments of our day:
“By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology. Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens. Examining my daily liturgy as a liturgy—as something that both revealed and shaped what I love and worship—allowed me to realize that my daily practices were malforming me, making me less alive, less human, less able to give and receive love throughout my day. Changing this ritual allowed me to form a new repetitive and contemplative habit that pointed me toward a different way of being-in-the-world.
Twitter can be a helpful and useful tool. There are plenty of smart people on there sharing helpful and challenging ideas. But I realized that reading, and trying to keep up with, the tweets from a bunch of strangers was beginning to hurt my real life. Again, I could justify it because if I retweeted something good I was speaking truth or fighting the good fight. If I am honest though, nobody cares what I have to say. My tweets are not making any sort of difference beyond virtue signaling. And, once again, there is a whole world around me that I want to make a different in.
In other words, social media in general and twitter specifically was not helping me become the father, husband, neighbor, campus pastor or church member I want to be.
I’ve been challenged by scripture like this one:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things – Philippians 4:6-8
What am I doing that promotes meditating on good things rather than being filled with anger, stress and frustration (which is where I usually ended up after being on Twitter)?
Rather than picking up my phone first thing in the morning, I sit in bed and think or I pick up my Bible and read. Perhaps I write in my journal.
Rather than checking Twitter every hour, I am trying to sit in the silence of the day, to pray for those around me, and think of ways I can act in positive ways in the world.
I pray this makes me more content throughout my days, and also more active in actually helping those around me.