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January 12, 2021 1:46 pm

Congressman Announces Indefinite Social Media Leave, Inspired by Shabbat

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

US Congressman Chip Roy speaking with attendees at the 2019 Young Americans for Liberty Convention at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday that he will be taking an indefinite “social media sabbatical” partly “inspired by seeing our Jewish brethren in Israel celebrate Shabbat.”

The Congressman, who represents Texas’ 21st Congressional District, said he will suspend both his personal and official accounts, delete the social media applications from his devices and encourage others to do the same. He has not decided how long he will be offline for, but he believes going without social media “will make me a better man, better father, better citizen and better congressman.”

Roy — who is among a group of seven House Republicans who opposed efforts to challenge the certification of the Electoral College vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden — explained that 18 months ago, he and his wife joined with friends to start “a weekly Sunday Night Supper,” and to try to reduce the use of screens on Sundays to only include screen-time that involves the whole family, such as watching a movie together.

Roy said, “We were inspired by seeing our Jewish brethren in Israel celebrate Shabbat, which reminded us of the Sundays we grew up with in the 1970s and ’80s. Ever since, one-seventh of our time has been immeasurably better, and Sunday dinner is a highlight of our week.”

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“I’m doing so not to make a political statement,” he clarified about his social media break, “but in the hope that America can return to kitchen tables, churches, taverns, coffee shops, dance halls (it’s a Texas thing) — whatever it takes to look others in the eye and rebuild our communities and humanity. As a husband and father, I also want to stop spending so much time looking at a screen and reacting in ways that are inconsistent with who I am and — most important — who I strive to be as a Christian.”

“While social media has proved a useful vehicle for sharing information quickly, I have concluded that it does more harm than good to individuals and society alike,” he added. “It tempts us to be reactive and feeds the worst of our human tendency to respond in anger rather than to stop and think before communicating.”

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