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From the desk of Lauren Palmer~this article was originally published in the September 2019 magazine

My grandmother grew up on a farm in deep East Texas that was established by my great-great-great-grandfather in 1854. They had an outhouse, drank water from a well, and caught lightning bugs in the evenings. In those days, valid pastimes at the farm included rocking in chairs on the front porch and picking wild daffodils. My grandmother had a pony. She played fairies at the feet of ancient trees; their exposed, moss-covered roots made perfect fairy homes in her childhood imaginings. Life on the farm was nothing like the digital world our families exist in today. Social media was still an undiscovered platform of communication and I cringe to think of it splintering the wholesome covering that farm-life enjoyed.

Like all modern conveniences, social media can be harnessed to yield both positive results and negative consequences. The power of a digital platform allows friends and family to stay easily connected from the four corners of the earth: Christmas, graduations, new pets, new babies, and the like can be experienced digitally without being present physically. Social media has allowed me personally to share The Art of Living Beautifully with you and has provided a vessel in which to carry our message to the masses. In that realm, I am very grateful for digital platforms.

However, social media also provides a breeding ground for narcissism, insecurity, jealousy, bullying, judgement, even hatred by encouraging users to take and post pictures of all aspects of their lives. Forget privacy or humility, and bring on the selfies, #vacayvibes, “Look at my new car!”, and anything else that might evoke a ‘like’ or a comment. It could be something as simple as posting what’s for dinner, but the habit of watching for engagement is a problem as is the habit to scroll, judge, and comment accordingly. When I think about it in this light, I wonder why it has become such a priority.

According to globalwebindex.com, in 2019, Americans spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media every day. By the end of the week, a total of 16 hours has been dedicated to scrolling. That’s basically a full day of awake time. Why are we spending an entire day of our lives each week mindlessly scrolling, or looking for validation, or fighting political and socially sensitive issues when the lack of face-to-face interaction allows for massive miscommunication and no repercussion for callousness or hatred? Why is digital interaction the preference over something real? Something tangible? The answer? In my opinion? 1.) It’s an easy habit to form. The habit to scroll, post, and comment is literally at the tips of our fingers at all moments of the day, and “easy” is too good to pass up these days. And 2.) The mindlessness has become a refuge for overworked, overstimulated, overwhelmed people that could really just use a day or two on the farm to calm their anxious hearts and minds.

Friends let’s limit our social media intake and retreat to a tactile refuge. Recognize that true peace and personal fulfillment will never be found in a digital world, but in a spiritual one. Be sure to take moments each day that allow for mental rest and rejuvenation with God. Go on a walk. Water the plants. Pick flowers. Watch for lightning bugs. Do a few yoga poses. Rock in a rocking chair. Make sun tea. Make lemonade. Make a friendship bracelet. Read a book. Meditate. Send a handwritten letter. Create a charcuterie board. Research a business opportunity at the library. Gather with friends. Tell a joke. Laugh. Solve a puzzle. Play a boardgame. Visit a farm. ENGAGE IN LIFE.

And during that limited time of social media intake and output, let us consider how our existence on a digital platform is affecting ourselves and others. Even from behind a screen, let’s take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Make healthy mental choices by changing unhealthy habits. Engage in beneficial forms of communication if a digital platform isn’t serving you well. Be self-aware and know your true motive behind each post and comment. Most importantly, believe your worth comes from the Father, not the number of comments or ‘likes’.

Allow social media to connect you with those you care about but are unable to see in person on the regular. And when possible ‘like’, ‘love’, and comment in person.

To learn more about Lauren and The Art of Living Beautifully, please visit our ‘about’ page.

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