Keeping Busy with Nothing
I will admit that I am probably on social media too much. I have said to Taryn more than once, that I want to just cut it all off. The only reason I don't, is because of family and friends to whom I want to stay connected. Because of this, I haven't disconnected from all my different social media platforms, but I am attempting to learn how to use them better.
I started thinking about social media and technology more after hearing an interview with Tony Reinke. He wrote 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. I wish I had time to read the book, but right now I don't. However, as he discussed the book, I was reminded how much social media and my phone take up time that could be spent better doing something more productive. When I am at work and I am stuck, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is often a way to avoid pushing through the difficulty and finishing the work in front of me.
In Letter XII of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape encourages Wormwood to use what he terms the 'Nothing' strategy. If you know the book, you know that it is a fictional group of letters between two demons on how to keep a person from growing in the faith. The 'Nothing' strategy that is suggested by Screwtape is one in which Wormwood is encouraged to distract the man with, quite literally, nothing. Things that neither have eternal significance nor connection to his vocation. These are the things to put in front of him.
You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room.
While the technology has changed the strategy hasn't. Here is a fun little game to play with your cell phone (if you have an iPhone. I am not sure with Android devices.) You can go into your setting, look at the battery life, and then look at the amount of time you are on certain apps. The first time I did it, I was a little shocked. I was on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter way too much. I am so easily distracted by nothing.
There are a lot of good uses for social media. Nevertheless, all too often it is a tool that allows us to be distracted with the frivolous and ridiculous. What would it look like for me to take Ephesians 5:15-16 seriously?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
I really like social media. I love that I can keep in touch with friends and family around the world. However, my prayer right now is that it the Lord teach me to stop using it as a mindless distraction that keeps me from the important. My prayer is that I stop being distracted with nothing.