I’ve enjoyed your writing for many years. You seem to have really found your place with the advice column. I have to admit I was a little jealous when you gave up regular blogging because I’ve wanted to quit blogging for years but I always was seem to be sucked back in. If I’m being honest, I’m addicted to writing and social media. I can’t seem to get away from either. I’m on the internet more hours a day than I care to admit. Without giving too much away; it’s a time suck, a relationship suck, and a spiritual suck. Every time I decide to call it quits another reason or temptation presents itself. So how’d you do it? What was your secret?
Anonymous Catholic Writer
Dear Anon Catholic Writer,
When I made my announcement last year to quit regular blogging I was exhausted; mentally and spiritually. I was tired of the ugliness and bickering that crushed my charity and I was brain dead from trying to come up with relevant content on a daily basis. I completely understand your desire to step away from the internet.
It’s not easy, and for me it didn’t happen overnight. I toyed with the decision to quit blogging over the course of several years, just as you have been. I took sabbaticals, leaves of absences, and time off but, just like you, I also came back.
I had an obsessive need to constantly share and publish my opinion that was rooted in an inflated sense of self. Once I realized that blogging was just feeding my own ego I knew it was time to move on. I’m not saying that’s your reason for writing, but recognizing and identifying why you do a certain behavior can certainly help you modify that behavior.
I asked myself these ten questions:
- Does this give me joy?
- Does what I write spread joy?
- Is it necessary?
- How does it glorify God and lift up the Catholic Church?
- How much time am I devoting to this, and how is that time better spent?
- Who is suffering or gaining from this?
- Is this helping or hurting me spiritually?
- Who am I really writing for?
- Am I spreading discontent and discord in my writing and online interactions?
- Am I writing for online admiration and validation?
Having kept a journal since I was a teen, I acknowledge there is something cathartic about the writing process. If you’re writing as a way to think through problems then by all means, continue writing in a private journal. However, if you’re seeking approval from people online and desire praise for your opinion then you’re on the right track considering quitting.
You’ve admitted that your online activity is damaging your relationships, affecting your spiritual well being, and taking up your time. So why do you still do it? Ask yourself that and answer the questions I posed.
Of course it’s possible to write and blog and be active on social media in a positive manner. In fact, I encourage people to do that as opposed to quitting all together. If you find quitting too hard then adjust your message and motives. Obviously I didn’t quit quit because I am here, opining away, but I hope that my message always points the reader to God and to doing what is right. The best way to quit one behavior is to replace it with something else, something more positive.
I may have lost a lot of followers on Twitter and I no longer get 20 friend requests a day on Facebook or hundreds of shares, but I’ve taken up cross stitching, I read more, I play a game of chess with my son every evening after dinner. Instead of meeting deadlines I go for walks with my dog, I choose the content I read and share more carefully since I only give myself a few hours a week online, and my time has become more precious to me. I think you’ll find too that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of having a constant online presence.
Don’t disappear from the internet all together. Just continue to take time off as you need it, but always reappear in a better image and likeness that reflects God and the Catholic Church in a positive and meaningful way.
Good luck to you.