I'm not really big on New Year's "Resolutions." I prefer to make goals. Maybe just a matter of semantics? Who knows. But that's my thing. Towards the end of December, I began to consider what my goals for 2018 should be, and I had been challenged by my friend Sandy Cooper's new book Finding Your Balance to fast from something for the month of January. As I prayed and considered it more, I felt that I needed to "fast" from Facebook. On Sunday, December 31st, I served that morning in our church's nursery, so I didn't hear the sermon that day. As my husband & I were going to bed, I asked him what the sermon was about. He told me that our pastor had challenged us to do a social media fast for the month of January! "Huh!" I said. "I literally JUST deleted the Facebook app off of my phone!" Funny how the Holy Spirit works that way sometimes. :-)
So that was how I came to this decision. I decided to delete the Facebook app off of my phone, and not log-on or check Facebook at all for the month of January. I did keep Instagram on my phone, and I did post some photos to Facebook FROM Instagram, but I did not log-on Facebook at all to read comments, etc. I also kept the Messenger app on my phone in case someone tried to personally reach out to me about something specific. I'm not really a Twitter-er. I really don't understand Snap-Chat enough to use it frequently. And I'm already apparently too old to know (or care) about any of the other social media apps out there. I felt that my personal issue was more with the endless scrolling that comes along with Facebook, so that's what I wanted to distance myself from primarily. Instagram does not typically pose that much of a "problem" for me, but I'll get into that later. I wanted to journal or at least log what I learned as a result of this break/fast. (Not to be confused with eggs & bacon, though.) So that's what the purpose of this post is. To help me organize my own thoughts and take-aways from this little exercise, and maybe encourage or challenge some of you in your own social media journeys.
What I Learned from My Break from Facebook:
1. I didn't really miss it that much.... (is that mean??) I *did* miss catching up with some of you and seeing your cute pictures, and funny quips (Elisa - the national championship game & award shows were HARD without you, girlfriend! Ha). But when I did think of you, instead of clicking on your profile or "liking" your picture, I actually did try and pray for you. And it made me want to check in with you later all the more, instead of just haphazardly passing by your photos and shooting you a "like." The first few days, I did find myself reaching for my phone, or searching for that blue Facebook app. But after a few days, that habit passed, and I honestly didn't miss it too much.
2. Along with reaching for my phone and the Facebook app, for the first few days I also noticed that sometimes I actually THINK in status updates. Umm.... YUCK! What I mean by this, is that I might be cooking dinner in the kitchen & make some kind of silly mistake, & I would literally come up with (in my head) whatever funny thing I think I might post about it & then pat myself on the back (in my head) and congratulate myself on how funny I think I am and how many other people would find me hilarious. Ummm... again. YUCK. Lots of things going on there... 1) narcissism 2) pride 3) need for attention... I'll stop there because it's kindof a downer to dwell on all that & I'm actually feeling pretty good today despite the gloomy weather we're having! (Please, if you think of more selfish attributes that type of behavior embodies, do not leave them in the comments section! I've repented... let's move on! Ha) Suffice it to say, once I noticed this "thinking in status updates" going on in my head - I pretty quickly realized my need for intervention. Thank the Lord for leading me to this little break & opening my eyes to this sinful behavior!
3. Another super eye-opening thing God showed me during this break is that I was pretty conditioned to go to Facebook (either my friends, or certain mom groups on Facebook, etc.) for help or advice - typically with parenting or managing things at home. Instead, I actually PRAYED for wisdom on issues I was needing help with, and whaddaya know.... God heard me and answered me! GO FIGURE. (I'm rolling my eyes at myself on this point, because... well, I've been a Christian for quite some time, but... lets all just take a moment to recall how Jesus liked to compare us to those sometimes lovable, yet extremely dumb animals known as sheep. Yeah.....) So, I got to reap some pretty cool rewards of following God's wisdom to me instead of simply looking to man's wisdom.
4. I also noticed I didn't seem to "need" as many new tops, dresses, shoes, accessories, trips, outings, or experiences, etc. as I tend to when endless scrolling is an option for me. I enjoy following some local boutiques on Facebook and supporting friends' businesses, but if you don't know what you're missing, then you may not be aware that you "need" (want) so many things. Materialism can definitely be a struggle for me, and social media most certainly feeds into that.
5. I waste A LOT of time on Facebook. We've all been there. You log-on or pull up the app to check ONE THING, and then you see that Patty has a new horse, and Cindy posted a new recipe that looks SO EASY and you just can't not watch those cool prep videos. And Tom is having surgery tomorrow, and Sally took her kids to see the latest chipmunk movie. And it just spirals down from there. I call it the "endless scrolling." It sucks you in. And usually doesn't make you feel very good after a while of looking at what everyone else is doing - or saying. In Sandy Cooper's book on balance that I referenced earlier (Finding Your Balance), she writes "I do not believe our hearts were designed to carry the amount of personal information social media feeds us." YES. Sometimes, it's just all too much.
As I mentioned, I did keep Instagram on my phone, and every now and then I would click to open that app and scroll to see what was going on with those of you that I follow there. Those scrolling sessions never lasted very long. Why? Because pretty quickly I realized how it was making me feel. Crummy. Inferior. Bleh. So I began trying to keep more books nearby so I could grab and read those if I were pinned down with a child on my lap or whatever.
Now I wish I could say that I spent every single moment I formerly WOULD have been on Facebook in either Bible study, reading, or prayer. I did not. I did read more. In fact, I read one book in 3 days! -which is like, a record for me because I'm not typically a reader. (I want to read more, though!) And I did study my Bible more. And I did pray more. I also probably paid more attention to my family, spent more time coming up with creative play activities for the boys, attended to more laundry, dishes, meals, etc. You know, those things we're supposed to be doing in life rather than sitting down scrolling Facebook!
All in all, I am incredibly thankful for this little break. I've learned a lot about myself and what role I feel like social media should play in my life right now. So what is that role? Well, I feel pretty certain that I still want to keep the app off of my phone. I want to eliminate the ease of the endless scrolling for me. I still plan on posting from time to time, and definitely want to check in with everyone to see what's going on. I'm sure I will do some scrolling at times - just need to keep it in check!
I do want to give a final caveat. I am in no way sharing this information to point to me or convince you how "holy" I am for doing this; no. I simply wanted to share what I felt led to do and the insight it has given me. Also, I'm not saying that everyone needs to do this, or do it exactly as I did it. If you do think that some kind of break or fast from social media may be beneficial to you, I would encourage you to pray about it and take an honest assessment of the role social media currently plays in your life.
And lastly, my pastor recommended a book when he issued us the challenge of fasting from social media (I went back & listened to the sermon!), and I have it on my list of books to read. If you want to check it out yourself, it's called Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology & the Business of Keeping us Hooked. I am definitely interested in it! Social media can be a wonderful thing, really. I am thankful for it. But just like anything else in this world that competes for our time, our thoughts, or our energy, it has the potential to become an obsession, an addiction - an idol. And it's vitally important that we continually sweep out the temples of our hearts and make sure that the rightful King is still in His place.