It’s difficult to hop on Facebook without cringing at posts from “that problematic family member” or diving into the rabbit hole of polarized political debates.
As someone who retweets and “likes” for a living, I get it. Social media can be exhausting, and social media burnout is real, my friends.
Most people solve the phenomenon of social media burnout by just unplugging, but people like me don’t have that option. If I didn’t have some go-to strategies for social media reprieve, I think I’d be a victim of burnout too. It’s important to have a few “social sanctuaries” where you can unwind, even if you can’t unplug–where you can renew your spirit without logging out.
So you haven’t found yours yet? Here are five ways to make social media a spiritual practice:
1. Join a Facebook group that feeds your spirit.
Sometimes, I definitely feel too stimulated by Facebook. While it’s not the Mother of all social media (R.I.P. MySpace), it aims to have a little bit of everything, and that can make it overwhelming. People also seem to jump on Facebook wearing their digital boxing gloves. Despite its reputation for being a place for knock-down, drag-out digital brawls, Facebook is still one of my favorite places to find community online.
When I need spiritual rejuvenation, I head to some of my favorite Facebook groups. Someone usually starts a Facebook group because they notice a collective of people who need to share a communal sounding board and support system.
A faith-based Facebook group is a great place to share spiritual resources and stories of disappointment and hope, but I find just as much community in Facebook groups with people who connect around profession, identity, or location.
Sometimes, it’s just good to feel as if there are a few select people among Facebook’s billions of followers who don’t just “get it” but also “get you.” I’d share some of my favorites with you, but most Facebook groups are like “Fight Club.” Rule number one is that you don’t talk about them to others. Ask your Facebook friends what Facebook groups keep them going, and join in the conversation.
2. Appreciate the beauty around you with an Instagram photo challenge
What better way to fill an Instagram page than with pictures of ourselves? At least that’s the premise of the ever-evolving selfie culture. (No judgment here. My selfie game is strong.)
Instagram is prime real estate for the selfie, especially since Facebook bought the app and started monetizing many of its top selfie artists. If you look beyond the selfies and the product placement, Instagram can be a great place to get reacquainted with the beauty around you, one photo challenge at time.
Popular Instagram accounts or websites give photo challenges to remind people to look beyond the front-facing camera and consider the sunset. Or the smile of someone who loves you. Or a new way to make the junk in your basement look like treasure. Google “photo challenge” to find one to join, use the hashtag #PhotoChallenge on Instagram to see if an existing challenge speaks to you, or start a photo challenge of your own!
3.Twitter Testify: Tell Your Story in Six Words
Social media is a great place to confess and commune, but it doesn’t take thousands of words. If you need to write a quick prayer or confession but you’re not comfortable being a chronic over-sharer, writing a short Twitter story could be your happy medium.
Twitter uses the hashtag #SixWordStory to tell all without telling much. It’s a fun way to engage in a writing exercise with other Twitter users who create six-word stories in response to prompts from accounts like @WriterlyTweets.
But it’s also a cathartic way to discover what stories you need to tell–the six words inside of you that may set you free. That’s what I love about writing exercises; writing without a plan reveals what’s resting in your subconscious. If you’ve been feeling heavy, a six-word confessional may be all you need to hit the reset button on your day.
4.Create the soundtrack to your life with thousands of your closest friends on Spotify.
Sometimes, that “oldie but goodie” just won’t do it. Your pick-me-up song just isn’t working this time–or worse, your pick-me-up song is now associated with an ex or former friend, and you need a new tune to brighten your day. Finding the perfect song that energizes you is just one Spotify journey away.
Center your focus on one thing, and pick a song that chronicles that feeling. Type that song into the “Radio” portion of Spotify, and Spotify will generate a list of music that is complementary to the style of the song and the artist who sings it. After you’ve finished listening to the first 10 songs, start a playlist and add the song that impacted you most.
Wash, rinse, and repeat this process every time you need a musical escape, and you’ll have a playlist filled with songs that speak to your most intimate thoughts and feelings. Your playlist will be your musical journal.
5.Give your friend the gift of laughter with Giphy.
If you’re going to make social media a spiritual practice, it can’t just be about you! Giphy.com‘s specialty is gifs, the colorful, yet repetitious video moments that are quickly replacing emojis as go-to reactions on social media.
I use Giphy to send good morning smiles to my favorite people. Sometimes, giving someone else a break from the drudge of social media will rejuvenate you as well. You can find the perfect gifs to remind someone of their favorite show or an inside joke. (Please note, if you’re sending a gif to me, it should always feature Beyoncé or Blue Ivy.)
Laughter is good for the soul. If you don’t believe me, spend 15 minutes on Giphy.com, and tell me you don’t feel a little lighter.
Social media can feel like an onslaught of never-ending information. But some of that information and the communities that form because of it, really are life-giving.
Marchaé Grair is the Digital Content Manager at the national office of the United Church of Christ. She coordinates social media at the UCC and is the founder and editor of the denomination’s blog, NewSacred.org By night, she is a dog mom, local foodie, and karaoke enthusiast, enjoying life in Cleveland, Ohio. Hang out with her on Twitter and Instagram, or check out more of her writing at Marchae.com.