Fasting from Social Media for Lent – what I learned

Lent was quickly approaching and I was having difficulty deciding what to “give up”. Over the past 20+ years of being Catholic, I’ve given up many things, including coffee, alcohol, desserts, and all of the many things one gives up during Lent. However, none of these seemed to speak to me as I was looking for something that would allow me to really focus on spiritual discipline.

Someone I respect had recently made the decision to leave Facebook and Twitter – and I was flabbergasted that someone could just up and leave like that without going through withdrawal or having some sort of vacuum exist. Given this reaction, I realized that maybe this was where I had given too much priority in my life – maybe a fast from social media was what I needed. In fact, with honest introspection, I spent collectively an hour or more per day on social media.

The first thing I learned was that I was nowhere near as angry and upset about things. The constant bickering that occurs among my real friends and among those I count as “friends” was really taking a toll on me that I didn’t realize until it wasn’t there. It was refreshing to not have the persistent onslaught of negativity.

Another thing I learned was that I get my news from social media. Once I turned it off, I was in the dark about everything going on in my neighborhood, city, country, and around the world. I needed to seek out other forms of getting news – such as the newspaper and the local TV station, much the same as I did before social media existed. But, this also reiterated the fact that I’d become accustomed to getting my news from various sources with potentially different views (e.g., NPR, CNN, BBC, NY Times, Washington Times, Fox News). Without everything being in a nice tidy list, it was difficult keeping caught up with everything. Oftentimes, I just let Linda tell me about all of the goings-on.

The thing I missed was keeping up with what was going on in the lives of my friends. A good friend was diagnosed with cancer and I wouldn’t have known anything about it had Linda not informed me. I realized I enjoy telling my friends “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. 

Finally, to be honest, I posted an Easter message on Facebook and Twitter upon waking on Easter morning – and then spent 45 minutes catching up on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, I can see me fasting from social media again; maybe more than just at Lent. 

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