Why I Quit Social Media

You don’t need to hear more statistics or listen to a lecture about the perils of Internet use to know that social media is not the best thing to invest your time in. Yet, billions of people are attached to internet services in a way that borderlines on addiction. Many people sleep with their phones underneath their pillows or within reach of their bed, and as soon as they’re awake, they’re scrolling, checking messages, checking notifications. Here’s why I quit.

It’s basically a drug.

It’s not necessarily that we enjoy what we’re seeing; it’s more the way our brain is responding. Social medias set up pseudo goals, such as “likes,” which then release dopamine when we accomplish them. They surround us with a virtual community that affirms us and validates us, giving us a serotonin rush as we scroll, message, and share. The news we see, the memes we share, and even nit-picky debates give us endorphins. The goal of this? Addiction. Who can blame them, though? These websites make their money off of people spending time on them, seeing ads. The more people they hook, the more money they make; you’re just one of their many revenue-generating targets.

It’s a waste of time.

Think for a moment about your own social media use. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or all four. What is the combined total, all the time you spend on all of social media, every day? If you have an iPhone, head to Settings>Battery and hit the clock to see all the time that you’ve spent with these apps illuminating your screen. Or, just estimate. For most social media users, that number is almost a full hour–every day. If you’re getting enough sleep (which, most of us aren’t, because, well, social media) then that’s about 1/16 of every waking moment. If you’re okay with that number, try to be conscious about how often you mention how busy you are, how tired you are, or how you just don’t have enough time.

I spent an hour or two every day on my phone, scrolling or posting on social media, texting friends, checking my (very quiet) email inbox, et cetera. Not all of this is inherently bad–connection and community with friends and family is healthy and important. However, as mentioned previously, the ultimate goal of these websites is not to connect you with your community, but to keep your attention.

It’s not about real connection.

All that commenting, sharing, status-updating, story-crafting, and keeping of snap streaks produces only a fraction of the care and involvement that comes with true connection. Sure, it’s something, and if you’re trying to stay updated in the lives of people who perhaps live far away, it may be worth it. This isn’t to say that you can’t connect with someone through your phone. Texting may not be the best way, but chatting on the phone or getting on FaceTime is practically on par with in-person conversation. While that is helpful, the constant life updates we so easily share are not improving anything. “Eating cheesecake! [insert poorly-lit, low-quality photo]”–no one cares! “Im so bored rn, hmu”–no one cares! “Ahhh this made me laugh so hard, sameee”–no one cares! “Just broke up…”–no one cares! “We’re pregnant!”–no one cares! And sure, some of these things really do matter, but please, just please put in the effort to share these things with those that it will be meaningful to. Text your old friend who loved cheesecake a picture of the cheesecake you’re enjoying, and reconnect. Message a friend who you know is going through a hard time, and have a meaningful conversation, instead of scrolling away your boredom. Share that meme with someone whom you know will appreciate it. Call up a supportive friend to talk with about your breakup. Email all the important people to let them know that you are with child, instead of spamming hundreds of innocent social media onlookers with that kind of baggage. (Just kidding…) Seek real connection, not virtual, addictive, pseudo-connection.

If you’re tired of being addicted to the drug of social media, or you just want to find some real connection, here are a few ideas.

Just quit indefinitely.

It may sound difficult, but quitting “cold-turkey” (what does that even mean?) may actually be easier than you’d assume. If you’d like to let people know before you go, make a note of it on your bio, or message a couple people before you delete the apps. But do not, under any circumstances, post on social media about leaving social media. If you do, you immediately jinx yourself into returning within days, tail between legs. (Half-joking?)

If you’re worried about comments being made without your available moderation, you can easily deactivate your Facebook account. After a bit of searching for the option, you’ll find it. After you explain why you’re leaving, and suffer through Facebook showing you the faces of loved ones and saying that “[so-and-so] will miss you” (not joking!), you can then hit the deactivate button. The upside is that this does not delete your account, which I recommend against because of the public journal your account may serve as; you can reactivate simply by re-logging in. The downside is that it will appear to the world as if you have blocked each and every one of them. This is something I am fiendishly entertained by but is often annoying, as in the case of a dear friend who worriedly texted me, asking why I had blocked them–I felt horrible. You can also deactivate your Instagram, which will produce the same effect. Your Twitter is more difficult to disable, and Snapchat will delete your account 30 days after deactivation–but the only permanent part of Snapchat, if you don’t have streaks, is your friends list, which you can recreate when/if you return.

Take a break.

If the thought of quitting scares you, figure out a good length of time to take a break. I would discourage you from taking only a week off, because weeks go by really quickly, and that’s not much time to adjust. For that matter, depending on how old you are, years go by really quickly. Hmm… Go for two or maybe three weeks. If that thought scares you, go for a month or two.

Practice moderation.

They say everything is good in moderation, right? If you’re less of an abstainer and more of a moderator (see Gretchen Rubin’s assessment), it may be a lot easier and healthier for you to scale back the time you’re spending, instead of attempting to pull away completely. Try these rules for social media moderation:

No social media in the morning. This helps you begin the day sitting with your own thoughts, without that dopamine rush. Turn your alarm off and actually get out of bed, and listen to a podcast or some music while you get ready instead of spending your first ten minutes awake checking meaningless notifications.

Eat without social media. You don’t need to mindlessly eat that sandwich while liking photos you don’t care about. Think about what you’re eating. Enjoy it. This might even help you eat healthier.

Think about what you’re doing before you open social media. To achieve this, set up a trigger, like hiding away your social media apps in the back of an obscure folder on your home screen. When you swipe through to access them, think why am I doing this? Am I filling a small pocket of boredom? If you’re just messaging a friend or looking for a specific piece of information, that’s great. If you’re trying to fill time with mindless and directionless scrolling… maybe give it a rest. Do something that you can truly enjoy, without the guilt of wasted time–read a book, call up a friend, watch something thought-provoking. Or maybe just get some much-needed sleep.

Don’t fall asleep scrolling. You already know it’s bad for your eyes, bad for your sleep, bad for your spirit–just quit. Read a book. Listen to something mildly interesting. Or just lie, thoughts in hand, until you drift off naturally. And yes, if you don’t struggle with some level of insomnia, this paragraph will seem silly to you.

Conclusion

It’s not my goal to come across as Facebook-phobic, or extremist in any way. Social media can certainly be utilized for lots of great purposes–I may return for a day or two to promote this blog post (yes, I realize the irony of that)–and I’ll certainly be back to spread the word about my book release, whenever that finally happens. However, I believe social media is mostly a huge waste of time that affects millions (if not billions) of people daily. The cost of that may never be completely measured.

P.S. As a bonus, if you leave social media, you won’t hear about Trump near as much. It’s pretty great.

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Christmas Thoughts

Merry Christmas, friends. It’s almost difficult for me to believe that we are all here again. Another year has passed by. Freezing, snowing, hibernation… thawing, rebirth, warmth… heat, growth, sunlight… death, cold, migration. And then, back to snow. This earth has come to the end of yet another cycle around the sun, in God’s Solar System. The year has been good, and bad. Joyful, and sad. Sweet, and bitter. Peaceful, and calamitous. It’s had its moments. And we are here, ever-continuing into the next year. (We’ll never stop the System–only God can.)

About two thousand and seventeen cycles around the sun ago, in March or so, Jesus was born. Everything people say about this sounds cliché to me, so let me get this through your head. Jesus was–and is–the incarnation of God. He is not like God, he does not possess attributes of God, he is God, and there was never a moment in all of time, all of history into infinitum, that he was not God. Yes, there are other parts of God, but Jesus is not less or more God than they are. The Holy Spirit, God the Father, and God the Son (Jesus) make up what Christians refer to as the Trinity, the Godhead, the ultimate unity that created the world together. And yes, they are plural (“let us make man in our own image”), but yes, the Trinity is quite hard to understand and we don’t have to get into it now. I’m just making sure you realize this dude is God.

Anyhow–God became a child, to experience life as a man and ultimately die on the cross for our sin. Jesus came and was crushed by his father in the Godhead. It’s not fair! No seriously, think about it, this isn’t fair at all. Jesus was perfect, and loving, and caring, and sweet–not weak–but tender. His ministry to us was constantly focused on healing people, and condemning the judgmental. Somebody like this deserves to live to be 107 and then drift off in their sleep. But he was crucified for us, because he loves us, and he wants to have each and every one of us in Heaven with him someday. If you weren’t raised in the church, or that’s just confusing to you, feel free to reach out to me. But the point is, Christmas is about Jesus, Forever Saviour, loving us in such a way that prompted this humbling act. Don’t ever let yourself forget what that really means.

In addition to the birth of Jesus, Christmas is also a time of year-end reflection. For me, 2017 was mixed. Bitter moments of dark depression, contrasted with seasons of friendship and renewal. Dull, quiet days, and world-traveling days. Summer laziness, Autumn busyness. And I suppose a year is too large a span of time to not be mixed, to some degree.

But overall… it was beautiful. Mostly because of the people in my life that lit the way through the dark times. In an awful valley, a friend came, just to talk, and walk, six or seven times around the block, and be my voice, until the tears subsided, and I knew life would be okay for another few days. A friend listened to me, even though I said all the same things over and over again, because he knew I had to get it out. A friend drove thirty minutes just to sit next to me, and look into my eyes, and ask “what’s wrong?” and cry because I was crying, and hug me until I could brave the rain again. A friend let me run errands with him now and then, playing music and just finding the time to be together, because I needed advice to face issues of the week. A friend asked “how are you doing?” in a way that told me “if you need to talk, or cry, or just hug, that’s okay.” A friend walked with me for two hours at midnight in a small town in the Summer, letting me tell him how I felt and what I thought, listening and caring. A friend had coffee with me, and assured me that God really did want to have a friendship with me, to have my love, and for me to have his love. So, even though this year was one of the hardest years of my life, it was the best year of my life, because of these people. Thank you, all of you that have shown love to me. I thank God for using you in my life.

Merry Christmas, friends. I love you. And I won’t forget, no matter what, the care you have shown me.

Whoops

Many of you may remember the writing contest I talked about a bit ago. You may also remember the supposed announcement containing winners of said writing contest would be August 21st. Well, I messed up. With everything else going on this Summer, I completely forgot about it in the week prior. I am sorry to each of the people who submitted and eagerly checked the blog Monday.  The pieces have already been judged, but I have yet to sort through them and determine winners. As soon as I’ve done that, I’ll be posting the winning pieces. The timeframe of this should be in the next week, however, I have learned I should not make promises like this! Please contact me if you have any questions. [Update, thirty minutes later: winning piece will be posted Monday, then 2nd place Wednesday, then 3rd place Friday. I know, I know, that’s not usually the order of it. I’m being different.]

 

 

The Writing Contest Deadline is Approaching!

This is a quick announcement to let you all know that the writing contest deadline is approaching (July 21st!), and I need more entries! Please send in anything (from twenty-one words to 2,100 words) you’ve written! Prose, poetry, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. For a rule-refresher, just head to the original post.

Also, if you’re interested in judging, please contact me.

An Update on My Novel

I am publishing a novel. It’s called The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert, and it’s about a boy who finds himself in another world and must take part in a battle against a cruel Queen’s dictatorship. As adventurous as that sounds, it’s really more about his internal battle and the relationships he builds. I finished it at 2:02 AM on March 2nd, and after giving it a break from my thoughts, I’ve found I want to return to it. So, a couple weeks ago, I ordered an editing/proofing copy for myself and began the work of turning it into a polished second draft! I’ve decided I’m going to change a lot about the first few chapters, and the last half of the book or so is rife with typical typos, but I enjoy it.

Once I have finished editing everything I want to myself, I’ll add page numbers (didn’t realize those weren’t automatic), a copyright page (also something that isn’t automatic), and make the cover something more appealing. After this, the writing process will be in phase three as I order five or six updated copies for trusted grammarians and friends to proof and comment on. If everything goes well and there aren’t huge things to fix, I’ll be publishing for regular sale in August!

For those of you who are curious, I am publishing through CreateSpace, an Amazon self-publishing website. It’s surprisingly inexpensive and easy, so if you’ve written a book, I heartily recommend you use their services, and I’m not making any money telling you this.

Here’s a sneak peak on the cover.

THE COVER

Quick poll!

I’m in Germany! Here’s how you can pray for me.

Hello! So, to be clear, as I write this, the day is February 21st, 2017. You should be reading this on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, or a day or two after. Anyhow: I just thought it would be neat to have this go out to all of you while I’m there so you can pray for me. By the way, Germany’s time is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard. (So if you’re in EST, I’m six hours ahead of you.)

Three Prayer Requests

  1. Day after day, while I’m helping out, I have a spirit of service and enjoy working for Christ and his people in the Church there.
  2. I get to know the wonderful people I am privileged to serve alongside better.
  3. I grow closer to Christ through it all.

Thank you all for the many prayers and the financial support that it took to get here. I’ll write about how it all went when I return!

Here’s How You Can Help Grow this Blog

The reader base of this blog is quite varied. Most people (I assume) know me in ‘real life’, but many of you just stumbled upon a post somehow or follow me on Instagram. However you found this, I’m glad you did, and I appreciate your readership immensely. Writing blog posts wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t think anyone would read them!

So, let me get to the point: I want to grow this blog. Last year 2,068 people visited the blog. Now, that’s great, and that’s no small number. But there are greater things. I want to use this blog to launch into a career of writing at some point, and 2,068 people aren’t going to make my debut novel or nonfiction piece a New York Times bestseller. Plus, my blog is part of the springboard for #voice4millions, and more blog traffic will mean more traction for the campaign. All of that in mind, here is my goal for this year:

The GOAL: I want 5,000 people to visit the blog in 2017.

That’s huge and I know it won’t be easy. But I really believe that we can do this. How? Well… Around 200 people visit the blog at least monthly. Let’s say each of you went to your Facebook and posted a link to your favorite post here. Then let’s say five people clicked and came here. Then, if they liked the post, they might decide to share with their Facebook friends. If five people clicked for each of those shares, then, just as quick as that, 5,000 people have visited the blog! And that could happen in as little time as a week!

Now, I understand that not all of you have a Facebook account, and I thought up a plan for you guys that you have probably already predicted: Email! So, here are two ways to share this blog with your friends.

Share with Your Friends on Facebook

If you’d like to share this blog on your Facebook and lead friends here, I made a few example posts for you. The first one links to a recent post about my conversation with Muslims.

Levi Pierpont is a teen writer and Jesus-seeker who talks about lots of things like religion, politics, reading, and life in general. Here’s a post he wrote sharing his story of meeting two Muslim women and having a discussion with them. https://levipierpont.com/islam

Or, if you’d like to share another post, one giving 50 discussion questions, here’s something you could post on Facebook:

Share fifty things about yourself in five minutes. (1) Click here: https://levipierpont.com/50 (2) Copy-paste the list of questions and come back, (3) then comment your answers!

And here is yet another post you could share with your friends, this one an informational piece about Buddhism.

Buddhism is growing popularity in the U.S., and many people believe that meditation and other Buddhist ideas are incredibly helpful. But what are Christians to think? Levi Pierpont answers this question on his blog, levipierpont.com, in this post titled “4 Noble Truths Every Christian Should Know About Buddhism.” https://levipierpont.com/buddhism

Or, if you’re a canded over canned type person, just recommend a post with your own words like a normal person.

Share with Your Friends Over Email

If you’d like to email a link to some of your friends, here are some idears.

Hello, friend. Now and then I read blog posts from a teen writer named Levi Pierpont. He blogs at levipierpont.com and recently wrote a post sharing his story of a discussion with two Muslim women about politics, religion, terrorism. Here’s the link to it: https://levipierpont.com/islam. Let me know what you think!

Or, if you’d like to generate a discussion, try this one.

Here is a list of questions I thought it’d be fun to answer and talk about. Copy-paste the list from this blog post (https://levipierpont.com/50) and send your answers, then I’ll give mine! 🙂

And lastly, a note you could email a friend about my post on Buddhism:

This is a canned message that Levi at levipierpont.com wanted me to send you. Lmk what you think of the post he mentions.

Buddhism is growing popularity in the U.S., and many people believe that meditation and other Buddhist ideas are incredibly helpful. But what are Christians to think? Levi Pierpont answers this question on his blog, levipierpont.com, in this post titled “4 Noble Truths Every Christian Should Know About Buddhism.” https://levipierpont.com/buddhism

I thought that last one was particularly entertaining, please use it.


 

There you go! Now, we’ll just have to see if this works. Send me a note using this contact form if you recommend friends to visit via Facebook, email, or any other means, and I’ll get back to you in a week and give you the stats on how it went. Thanks!

 

 

life today//installment one: school, work, faith, reading

It’s been a bit since I talked about life and everything. If you know me in real life or you follow me on enough social medias, you probably already know some of this stuff already. But I decided to share here anyway, mostly just to give me a chance to think through everything. Here’s what’s current in my schooling, my work, my faith, and what I’m reading.

school

I attend a co-op for Physical Science (I took biology last year so the normal pattern got reversed with me), Spanish, and Writing, and I love it. My first semester grade in Writing was 98%! Science was 88%, and I would bet Spanish is somewhere in the middle, but I haven’t gotten that one yet. I can’t stand Mathematics and Mathematical Science. I think it extracts the magic out of the Universe. If we had simply been content with looking up at the stars instead of figuring them out, our magical idears of what they were would still be alive. Science kills wonder. Of course, the people that like Science would say it increases their wonder in the natural world, but it doesn’t for me. Anyhow, I’m behind in Math, but on track to finish before Summer. I sort of didn’t start World History until this week, so I’m fitting a whole textbook into one semester and supplementing with YouTube and library books. I’m also taking Piano lessons with a great kindred spirit and mathematical genius.

Overall, I feel pretty good about my schooling. I think I’m learning to not procrastinate. Then again, last week, I got almost all my co-op homework done on Sunday night.

work

Like I said, you probably know this, and I announced it on Facebook and all that, but I work at a library. It’s been about a month now, and I love it already. At the other place I worked, time went by fairly quickly, but I wanted it to go by quickly. At the library, time whizzes by because I love it and I don’t want the time to go. I just love helping people with books. It’s not like all I do is recommend books or anything, but just the regular checking people’s books out to them and shelving books when they’re done is great. Well… shelving is a little boring. But it’s rewarding, ’cause you finish a whole stack and feel really accomplished. I’ve also found a ton of great books by working at the library.

faith

As I’m sure you all know, in December of 2015, I shared that I was pretty much agnostic. Within months from that post, (with all the prayer that I’m sure occured from my dear friends,) I didn’t feel that way. And I still don’t. But there is still a doubt in something. I wrestle with the idear of Hell whenever I think about God, and none of the explanations help at all. It just makes no sense to me, and it’s hard to believe God truly loves everyone if he’s willing to throw most of us into this eternal torture. I am pressing on, trying to understand him, trying to pray, memorizing Scripture, reading it and reading a great devotional from Charles Stanley. But it’s tough. I would appreciate prayer.

reading

On a lighter note… I just finished reading A Wind in the Door, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle wrote them back in the 19-somethings; it’s all the somethings if it was before I was born in the Grand Year of Our Lord, 2000. Anyhow, I loved A Wind in the Door and you should read it. After a bit, I’ll be on to the third book in the series!

I’m also listening to The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman on audiobook. I’m not sure how I feel about it or what time period it’s in. But the voices are good and it’s narrated by the author himself. There is also music. This is good.

Half Magic by Someone Random is a book I’m reading aloud to my younger siblings. It’s funny and they like it.

The two books I’ll be reading next (when they finally get through all the library systems) are Fierce Convictions (a biography of Hannah Moore, an abolitionist) and Emily of New Moon (written by the same author as Anne of Green Gables). Both books should be delightful. If I do enjoy Fierce Convictions, you shall hear about it in a blog post.

Please let me know what you’re reading and how you like it by using this contact form:

As always, you can email me at levipont@gmail.com. I liked this. I will do it again sometime. It’s good to chat.

Talk next time!

 

 

goodreads

Hello, my friends. I feel like every other day, I’m telling you about a social media you can find me on. This time, it’s a reading website that I’m sure most of you have heard of. It’s called “Goodreads,” and you can go straight to their website here.

On this wonderfully bookish social media, you have shelves of books: to-be-read, read, and currently reading. You can also add more shelves if you want to. As you use the site, it suggests books to you, and you can also write reviews of the books you read. You can make lists of books, create a group, and find your friends to see what they’re reading. I love it.

So please, go find me there at goodreads.com/levipierpont. There, you can follow me to see my reviews and such, or add me as a friend. You can keep up with what I’m reading, what I have read, and how I feel about it all.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL!

For only $29.99*, you can join my Children’s Reading group that I just started. (*Totally kidding, it’s free.) The purpose of the group is to make a long list of great children’s books and have discussions about them. I’d love to have you, whatever your age or stage of life.

See you there!

i’m making business cards – which design do you like better?

hello! i’m making some business cards and i wanted to get your opinion on it. just click here and choose which one you like the best of the three designs i created! thanks for your help!

(photos from unsplash.com, the most beautiful free photo site in the galaxy)

UPDATE – i printed them! i chose the bluish-purple starry one, and it looks pretty great. if you catch me in real life, ask me for one!