I’ve been thinking about this post for the last 10 days. When I first thought about writing this, I was unsure of sharing my thoughts about this experience because, as I’m always worried about what other people think—I’m working on that—I wondered if there would be some who thought I was trying to elevate myself or… I don’t even know. I usually think the worst.
But, the more I thought about it, I realized this might be a profound experience—hopefully I’d learn something from it—and by sharing maybe I could invite others to share their experiences and learn from them as well.
What in the world am I talking about?
The beginning of October, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gathered all over the world, at meeting houses, through television, through social media and the internet, and even some at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, to hear leaders of the church provide guidance, direction, and inspiration and to share their testimonies of the Savior Jesus Christ. During this special event, women of the church were invited to a session just for them in which the prophet of the church, President Russel M. Nelson, challenged the women to do a few things. One of the challenges was to do a 10-day social media fast. He asked the women to pray to know which social media influences to remove during the fast.
I decided to try this because I know that what the prophet asks us to do is important and will greatly bless us.
I started my social media fast the Monday after the conference. As I write this, it is the 10th day. I’ll post this to my blog tomorrow.
For my social media fast, I decided to stay away from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (although I’m not sure when I was last on Twitter), not read or write blogs (I know some may not consider this social media), and not play games on my tablet or phone. This last one I added because I wanted to limit the use of mobile technology to see the effects.
Wow! I feel like this week has been an eye opener.
I didn’t think I was that addicted to social media. I don’t post a lot, although now that I’m vamping up my blog my goal is to post a lot more, and I didn’t think I spent that much time on social media sites or games. Boy, was I wrong.
Here’s what I learned from my social media fast:
- When I’m bored, I go to social media. A few times during my fast, I found myself just sitting, not doing anything. Unconsciously I reached for my phone and clicked Facebook or Instagram. I realized what I was doing before the site fully loaded and closed the app. I learned I no longer know how to just sit and do nothing.
- When I’m waiting, I go to social media. A few times during the last week and a half, I found myself waiting for someone or something. Usually, I waited for Chef Comte in my car at his work so we could go to lunch. On any other day, I would take those 15 minutes of waiting and jump on Instagram or Facebook to see what everyone is up to. But, not this time. I had to figure something else out.
- When I’m uncomfortable, I go to social media. As I mentioned in a previous post, I currently live in a hotel. This means elevators. I don’t use them a lot because we’re pretty close to the stairs. But when I want to go to the lobby, the elevators are the way to go. Now, I’m on introvert and am not super comfortable with strangers, so when someone I don’t know, which is almost everyone, gets in the elevator, I have the tendency to look at my phone and open the most accessible social media app.
- When I wake up and before I go to bed, I go to social media. My phone or tablet is the first thing I reach for in the morning and it’s usually the last thing, besides my husband and maybe my blankets and pillow, that I see before I go to bed.
- When I get on my computer to write, I go to social media. I don’t usually just jump into writing. I like to warm up first, usually with something good to read. Unfortunately, I usually get sucked into some tabloid-y article on Facebook.
So, what have I been doing with all this free time since my eyes and mind are not attached to Facebook and Instagram all the time?
- I’ve been reading. I haven’t read much in the last few years because I’ve had a hard time overcoming stress from work. But I think it’s also because I get sucked into social media all the time. In the last 10 days I have read two and a half books.
- I’ve written more. I’m working on a large-scale writing project and have devoted more time to it lately.
- I’ve been better at reading my scriptures in the morning and have put more thought into what I’m reading instead of rushing through it.
- I’ve enjoyed TV shows and movies more. At home—not in the theater because it’s rude to shine a bright light in a dark room—when watching TV or a movie, I unconsciously pick up my phone and multitask. I usually miss a lot of the show when I do this. But this week I’ve paid closer attention to the story and have enjoyed it more.
- I’ve enjoyed the present. During this last week, Chef Comte and I have spent some good quality time together with a few adventures around Salt Lake. Many times when we adventure together, when the conversation lulls a bit, I pick up my phone and skim through my social media feeds. But this week, I have enjoyed just being present.
So, that’s what I learned and did this week. It’s been a good experience. I am going to jump on social media, but I hope I’ll be more conscious of when and how I’m using it. And I hope and will strive to keep doing more of the things in the above list and not let social media distract me so much.
What about you? If you have done a social media fast or break, I’d love to hear about and learn from your experience. What did you learn? What did you change because of your experience?