Years ago, my son told me about something called Facebook. I said, “That’s the dumbest idea since the pogo stick. It’ll never fly.” He said, “I’m on Facebook. My friends are too.” I said, “Where do I sign up?”

He patiently showed me how to post and tag and poke and message and befriend and like. It was a great tool. I found I could cheer people up, connect with old friends, organize a backyard football game, and bring laughter by saying things like, “We’re out buying Christmas gifts for the kids. We’re spending their inheritance.” People commented and liked what I said. I was flattered. It felt good. I liked it when folks liked what I posted.

Then people I didn’t know contacted me. They had read my books and listened to the radio program, so friend requests came by the thousands. I was never this popular growing up. In fact, I’m still surprised when family members come to my birthday party. Suddenly I had 5000 “friends.” I did the math. That’s 13 birthday parties to attend each day. How would I ever visit this many friends when they got sick? Or listen to their problems? Historically, that’s what friends do. Talk. Care. Encourage. Hang out. My son said, “Not anymore.” All it requires is a mouse click. No commitment, no chocolate, no drop by the house to see how you’re doing. No wonder that studies show we’ve never felt more alone. The average Facebooker has 338 “friends,” but just two they consider close. 25 percent say they don’t have one close friend.

Recently I realized that partly because of a preoccupation with social media, I was caring more about being liked than loving others. So I took a forty-day cyber Sabbath.

Here are a few things I discovered:

1) I became better connected with those who really care.
2) I was more likely to care about what God thinks.
3) I was hungrier for time in the Bible, in prayer, uninterrupted by the ding of a phone.

During those forty days, I didn’t go down so many ADD rabbit holes that led nowhere profitable. And my joy increased. Ephesians 5:15-16 (WEB) says:

“Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Time without social media was good for me. The one and only downside? My wife saw I had extra time, and asked me to do the dishes.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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