Friday, February 14, 2020

Guest Post by Mary Derstine | Social Media and I

  Hello! Today I'm excited to share another guest post! This one is from Mary Derstine, and is about social media. I "met" Mary a few years ago through an email group called "Almost Authors" and have enjoyed reading her blog and her articles in the Forever His Princess magazine. Please leave her a comment below when your finished reading, and enjoy!

     What do you think of when you hear "social media"?  Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest...there are so many platforms that connect us to people around the globe. Recently it seems like people have more bad to say than good about these connections. People seem to get sucked into the online world and spend most of their time in that space instead of reality. 

     I have been aware of the problems the online world can have, and I never wanted to be addicted to the entertainment it offers me. I got social media later than some, at age 18. I wanted to use these platforms to keep up with old friendships and do more than just entertain. I wanted to use my phone as a tool, not a toy. Even if I wanted these things, I found myself spending more and more time on my phone. It was what I turned to if I had a moment of free time. Whenever I noticed myself getting too wrapped up in the online world I made myself take breaks from social media, usually for a few days or week. Recently I decided to go on a social media fast for a month. For someone who scrolled Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube nearly every day, if was hard to stay away from it for so long. I felt like I was missing out. 

     A few changes took place in my life. Once I stopped spending my time on social media, I had more spare time to read and write. I became more attentive to what was happening around me since I wasn't looking at my phone. I wasn't as distracted when reading my Bible or praying. 

     I also noticed more things about my surroundings. If there is a lull in conversation, people tend to pick up their phones. One time our car was broken down and literally every one in the car was looking at their phones while we waited for help. Granted, that time I really wished that I had something else to look at instead of the cars whizzing past us. It seems like we have forgotten how to be innovative with our spare time now that we have phones. The creativity I had as a child before my first phone has been lost.

     Now that I'm back on social media, I don't have any grand pieces of advice. I recommend going on social media fasts to refocus your mind on what's important. The day I turned my Instagram back on, I became bored with it, which is surprising for me with how much time I spent on it before the break. I still have to work to make myself not be the phone obsessed person I know I can be. To keep myself in check I use app timers, and when my time limit for that app is used, it turns off. I think all phones have these timers, which is really cool. Some people have an app that keeps track of every time they unlock their phone, and that helps them be aware of what they are doing on their phone. It's so easy to mindlessly scroll when we have nothing else to do. I know others who keep their social media on their laptop or another device they don't use as much as their phone. 

     I love my phone and the connections it gives me especially since I serve as a missionary across the world from my family and friends. I find social media can uplift and encourage, and I'm grateful for the opportunities to share my life with people around the world. At the same time I'm finding it takes a balance. I don't want to miss out on living my life because I'm too busy with my phone. I want to be present in conversations, play with children instead of giving them my phone, and see the beauty in the life around me.

     Hi, I'm Mary Lynn Derstine, a writer at I love writing, sunshine, and my family and friends. Currently I am in Kurdistan, Iraq working with girls who had been trafficked by ISIS. I love hearing from people who read what I write so feel free to comment and give your opinions. 


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