In late 2019, I became increasingly aware of the correlation between the advent of the smartphone/social media and the exponential growth in anxiety, depression, and suicide in our children and grandchildren. While the same detrimental impact does not seem to hit us once we’re over the age of 25, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility—and love—for the younger generations. I decided to step away from social media and greatly curbed my smartphone use for a total of four months.
The change was not immediate, but I can testify that being on my phone less resulted in being engaged with real people more. I found myself considerably less anxious as notifications and emails had less control over me. More than anything else, I liked the gift I was giving my husband of being available and truly present when I was in the house, rather than absorbed in social media that often didn’t matter, news that made no difference in my life, and work that could certainly wait.
I began to do further research and seek God’s heart on these tools we have access to. I had the honor of hashing out my concerns with other women in ministry like Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Erin Davis, and Laura Wifler of Risen Motherhood. You can hear that engaging conversation at Revive Our Heart’s archive. My brain was absorbing every word of wisdom as we shared our hearts and concerns, as well as our idea of how we approached social media.
It was during that conversation that I decided I needed a personal social media policy. I decided to get off Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook that night, and I did. I resolved not to return until I had written a personal philosophy and plan. Since I wrote it prayerfully, it took a few months.
My re-entry into Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feels good. I’m in control of my social media, rather than allowing them to control me. My mood remains stable. I know when to post. And perhaps most importantly, I know when to just be quiet.
The art of withholding a comment is something many of us wish others could master on social media, but rarely consider to be in need of ourselves. I have come to believe that the name of Christ would be greatly honored if Christians could practice that kind of self-control.
Many of my social media followers and friends have asked me if I would share my written philosophy and policy, so here it is. My True Girl team is in the process of adopting this, too. Each individual gets to modify it for their personal use as they are led by the Lord.
This is my policy, so there’s no need for you to amend it, critique it, or adopt it. It’s what I needed.
But, I do invite you…urge you…strongly encourage…even beg you to consider writing your own philosophy and usage policies. There’s way too much at stake for us not to be women, mothers, and influencers who use social media mindlessly. We must be wise.
10 BIBLICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL COMMITMENTS FOR ALL TRUE GIRL & DANNAH GRESH SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
We believe many relationships are conceived and nurtured on social media with friends and True Girl followers alike…
We acknowledge the global platform of social media and proclaim that it is a useful tool to share the gospel and to disciple believers…
We are witness to the fact that social media can be a glut of opinions lacking expertise and experience and therefore dangerous to navigate…
We live in a day of increased anxiety, depression, & suicidal ideation that we believe correlates with screen and social media usage…
We admit that the valuable resource of time is literally “Twittered” away on social media…
We regret that the reputation of many Christians online is one of hatemongering both towards The Lost and other believers…
We affirm that Christ declared that the world would recognize Christians by their love…
Therefore, we institute the following biblical guidelines to guide our corporate and individual social media use:
1. Social media does not exist for us to use people to build a platform but to use social media as a platform to serve people.
We will seek to reflect gratitude for our inclusion in God’s family and the generosity of Christ by building an online community that makes each woman feel included and blessed by our “culture of generosity.” (Romans 8:32, Ephesians 1:3,13,14) Our goal is to be known for what we give away not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ and His Bride. Social media is not a sales tool, but a friendship bridge. Our postings will maintain a strong ratio of 2/3rds generously gifted content and 1/3rd information about our events, online studies, and resources.
2. Our goal for social media is not to gain more followers for ourselves, but for Jesus.
It is a tool of discipleship, not market growth. We will present free biblically-based content on topics about which we are well-researched and have a valid contribution to make including the Truth that sets us free (John 8:31,32), the moral development of children and related issues, parent/child connectedness, and healing when our hearts are broken by sin.
3. Social media is a massive source of clutter in our lives.
We want to use our time well and we want to encourage our online community to use theirs well. (Colossians 4:5) We will refrain from adding to the glut of content and will allow other better-staffed teams to post about recipes, playtime, crafting, and other content that is fun and helpful but about which we are not experts. (Of course, if a craft or a recipe facilitates object-based learning about God's Truth, we will certainly engage!)
4. The line is fine between empathy and self-centeredness.
Well-meant memes, out-of-context Bible verses, selfies and so-called lifestyle photos (just fancier selfies), and self-exalting pep talks lack no supply on social media. While some of the transparency on social media builds empathy, too much positive self-pep-talk tempts us all to embrace the self-love that Paul warns believers to avoid. (II Timothy 3:1-5) Instead of contributing to this mentality, we will seek to produce high-quality content that informs mothers and exalts Jesus.
5. We are a community of first-responders and social media is a lens through which we can view needs and meet them. (Galatians 6:2)
This includes being at-the-ready to gift tickets, resources, and emergency funds to individuals in our community who present needs. It also includes posting prayer alerts for national and world needs, highlighting our calling in at-risk communities, and intentionally taking time to pray for and with our community on a monthly basis. (Philippians 4:6)
6. God created the world in six days and then rested. We can, too. (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8-11)
We will not post on Sunday unless in an effort to “do good” or “help” another entity or individual. (Matthew 12:12; Luke 13:10-17) As a corporate culture, we will seek to be individuals who live screen-free on Sundays in an effort to reset our hormones and hearts. We will regularly and gently encourage this practice among our social media community through awareness posts and blogs.
7. Our world needs a little bit of quirky joy.
Research reveals that over the last five years US users have become more negative and angrier on social media and that this is one contributor to anxiety and depression. We will seek to be a visual and verbal explosion of joy on the scrolling feeds of women who choose to join our community. Both the language we use and the graphics with which we present them will be infused with the joy of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:4) We will encourage one another to refrain from grumbling and complaining online as individuals. (Philippians 2:16-17)
8. If we can’t say something nice, we won’t say anything at all.
We will not post anything that maligns or slanders the name of another believer. Jesus instructed believers to settle matters of sin and disagreement one-on-one, then with a mediator, then with the local church body. (Matthew 18:15-17) As a corporate culture, we will seek to be individuals who follow the pattern of reconciliation with those we “know” and we will seek wisdom to decide if it is to be pursued with those we “know of.”
9. A little grace goes a long way.
And, we will extend it to anyone who publicly posts disagreement with Dannah Gresh, True Girl, our biblical preferences and philosophies, and our work including unhappy event attendees of online clients. We will say “yes” to them in whatever way is possible and seek to understand their point of view.
10. It’s better to be known for what you are for than what (or who) you are against.
And as Christians, we are called to be known by our love above everything else. (John 13:35) We will practice self-control and refrain from posting anything controversial and currently newsworthy for the sake of expressing our opinion or gaining “red meat” attention. If as an individual or ministry representative, any of us feels convicted about posting something he or she will seek wisdom from other team members, and they will pray together. A unity of desire must be present among the True Girl executive team before anything is posted that is timely or controversial. (Galatians 5:16)