Home Pastors Pastor Blogs A Divine Slap in the Face (Breaking an Online Addiction!)

A Divine Slap in the Face (Breaking an Online Addiction!)

CONFESSION:  This article is more of a confession that it is a correction!  It’s not about what I see others doing/not doing but rather something I have realized for myself and am currently wrestling through.  I hope this helps some people!

It was one of the most divine slaps in the face I had ever received; in fact, I’m still recovering from it.  Let me explain…

A little over a month ago, I was with a group of about ten people or so in a restaurant where we had gathered to celebrate and reflect on the end of a pretty intense season of ministry we had just completed.  We had seen God do some amazing things and had more than enough reasons to be excited about the evening.

We got our menus, spoke with each other about the options in front of us, and then chatted about what we preferred, and then placed our order with the waiter.

After the waiter was gone, I pulled out my cell phone.  Please understand, no one had texted me.  No one had called me.  I did not have any voice messages from earlier in the day.  Why did I pull out my cell phone then?  Simple…I needed to check Twitter.

As I did this, something told me to stop and listen…and when I did, I heard no conversations taking place at the table.  No laughing.  No celebration.  No recalling what the Lord had done.  Then I looked up and discovered why…


Doing what, I have no idea…probably Twitter, Facebook, or whatever…but what stood out to me in a very convicting way was that ALL of us were neglecting being connected with the people who were right in front of us and were engaging in something else that, for some reason, we all considered to be more important.

I was convicted!  BIG TIME!  Here I was with a group of friends that I should be enjoying life with, and instead, I was obsessed with an online perception that I somehow felt was more important than the relationships that were right in front of me.

Thoughts began to flood my mind of other times I had done the same…

  • The times I had been on the couch with Lucretia, and instead of engaging her in conversation, I was seeing how many people retweeted me.
  • The times that Charisse had been trying to get my attention, and instead, I was trying to see how many “likes” that NewSpring’s Facebook page had.
  • The times that I had been in a room FULL of people and opportunities to engage in conversations that mattered, but instead, I was more obsessed with clearing another level of Angry Birds.

Like I said, it was a divine slap in the face, and I realized that I was neglecting real community, real people who were right in front of me, and instead engaging in relationships online that were superficial at best, and achieving “high scores” on games that had absolutely zero significant value.

Honestly, if I found out today that I had 30 days to live, my obsessions would not become how many Twitter followers I could gain, how many times I could dominate “Words with Friends,” or even having to check who had written on my Facebook wall in the past 15 minutes.  It would be people, REAL people, and REAL relationships that would be important to me.

Please do not misunderstand this!  I am NOT the anti-social media guy!  I love keeping up with people via the World Wide Web.  I love playing a game or two on occasion.  I love the fact that I know a lot about my friends all over the world because they update their lives via social media.

However, I finally came to realize that I had personally allowed social media to become an obsession that was distracting me from what was really important rather than a tool that I could make use of.  I had allowed it to steal time away from my family and my friends…and call it what you will, but I had to call it sin.

What am I doing about it?

FIGHTING through it!  I believe social media CAN be as addicting as alcohol, drugs, or gambling.  It meets a perceived need of inclusion, acceptance, and friendship.  (You DO understand that most of your facebook friends are not actually your friends, don’t you?)

  • I’m having to FIGHT to make the decision that at dinnertime, the cell phone does not come with me to the dinner table.  That is my time with my family…and any “emergency” will just have to wait!
  • I’m having to FIGHT through the “need” to check up on Twitter when I am in a group of people with whom the Lord has put me in a live, active relationship with.
  • I’m having to FIGHT to not play games on my phone or iPad when I’m in a room full of people with whom I need to be paying attention to.
  • I’m having to FIGHT to not be engaged with an online audience at night when opportunities to engage with my wife and daughter are way more important and way more fruitful in the long run.
  • I’m having to FIGHT to not take my phone with me into important meetings and carry on texting conversations that cause me to disconnect from what I should be paying attention to!

It’s a fight…and just something I’m learning and wrestling with.  I will still be blogging, still be tweeting…but for me, it’s going to have to be put in its proper place.  Because I’ve also seen that an addiction to social media can take our eyes off Jesus and put them on people, thus causing us to cave into the fear of man and completely forget that we are called to fear God.

And…many times, we can’t even obey what the Lord says in Psalm 46:10 because we are so dang connected!!!  We can’t respond to the voice of God because we’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dog that when we hear “the tuning fork” (a.k.a. notification from our phone that we have a text/e-mail) that we feel the need to immediately respond, thus ignoring what is right in front of us.

One more time, let me say it again-I’m NOT against social media, smart phones, games, and such…but they should be used wisely and be a tool in our hands rather than the obsession of our day that we just can’t seem to do without.  

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Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 26,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership at PerryNoble.com. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.