Have you ever tried fasting? The Bible says a good deal about it, and if you mention you're fasting, people either think you're over-spiritual, or they're impressed. Or at least, that's how I react, depending on the person doing the fast.
Well, I had never tried a fast, until last April. A friend encouraged me to try it, and I felt like it would help me. I was struggling to focus on school, and focus in my walk with God. But food fasting is hard, let me just say. Pert near impossible for this girl. So I did the next best thing: social media. Because of course that's the next most important thing after food. Ranks above breathing, even.
So I took away the social media that I use the most. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Some might question Pinterest as a social media, but I was on it as much as the other sites, and it was feeding some of my brain-crazy, so I took it away from myself. And it was hard.
Pinterest was gone, so I couldn't look up pretty things or funny things.
Tumblr was gone, so I lost half of my ability to do my MBTI research.
Twitter was gone, so I couldn't have witty, deep gripe sessions.
Snapchat was gone, so I couldn't see my funny friend's morning Stories.
Instagram was gone, so I couldn't stalk my favorite actors' pictures.
And Facebook was gone, so I was pretty much cut off from the world and couldn't stalk everyone I usually stalk.
Let me just say, it was an interesting result. I started a couple of days into April, and my goal was to go the rest of the month. I didn't journal, but I did take notes, and this what I got:
Day 1: Pinterest withdrawals are horrid. I realize how often I involuntarily open my Facebook app. (Answer: way too often.) Radio plays "Strangely Dim", which I haven't heard in 3-4 years, so I take this as confirmation from God that this is a good idea.
Day 2: PINTEREST WITHDRAWALS. But I can tell a huge difference in my focus. Much less brain fog.
Day 3: I have the irresistible urge to Internet-stalk the single guy who said hi to me after Sunday School 3 weeks ago at church. I log into my brother's Facebook on my browser to stalk. Pretty sure that's a loophole.
Day 4: Fighting serious urges to log into Instagram to see if I have a reply to that passive-aggressively important DM. I experiment to see how much coffee I can drink in one day. I get 2 1/2 cups in the first 5 hours and have to stop. My brain becomes a merry go round.
Day 9: I understand now what God means when He says that sin robs you. Interestingly enough, my biggest problem has tempted me more now that I don't have SM to distract me in my downtime. So I have to take away something I really enjoy, so as to not open the door for me to be tempted again.
Day 10: I really, really miss my social media. I feel lonely. Also, I log into my Instagram profile to look at my old posts. But I don't scroll through my feed. Is that a loophole?
Day 12: I really miss Pinterest. I really wanna nostalgically scroll through my boards. Really bad. I break and log into Instagram to see if a particular gal has posted any pics. I resist the urge to scroll through, but I still feel bad, so I log out. I really don't have good self control. *heavy sigh*
Day 17: YAY ONLY 9 MORE DAYS. Huh. I wonder if I should go for 40, since Jesus fasted 40. It's getting close to finals, and I'm getting more focused. Ooh. That'd be a LOT of days...
Day 18: I could be doing alot of MBTI research, but no. *sigh*
Day 22: Do you know how HARD it is to open Facebook on a computer, use Messenger, and resist the urge to check all your notifys and scroll through stuff. IT IS HARD. But I did it. Also, if I choose to do a 40 day fast, that puts me at Friday, May 15. *sigh* I don't know if I can, but I feel as if I should.
Day 26: I'm...gonna do it. I think I'm gonna try the 40 days. I'll just see what I can do. I feel like I am sacrificing, because I'm missing all the Avengers stuff. So perhaps that's good for me. Here...goes nothing, I guess.
Day 30: I feel sad, man. Sad.
Day 32: Seriously? I have to miss seeing the stuff from Joseph's graduation from basics? :/
Day 35: I have to miss Mother's Day?! I can't post anything about my wonderful mum?! *cries in corner*
Day 40: I made it 40 days before my mom knew I was fasting. That feels like an accomplishment somehow.
If you're laughing, don't feel bad, because I'm laughing at myself. It's crazy to think how much I was on social media, and how much of my thoughts were consumed by it. I learned a few things, obviously.
1. I'm on it way too often.
2. I am a bit of an attention hog.
3. It made me stop and think about what I planned to post.
4. I was too worried about other people's lives and not worried enough about what I was accomplishing.
5. It was weird getting to be told by my friends about the "important" news, when I'm used to being the informant.
6. I found out how insignificant my posts are. I don't think anybody noticed I was gone. Either my posts are boring, or I don't interact with enough people online.
7. If this was a fast in the true sense of the word, then maybe I didn't use it to its full potential. I didn't really spend more time reading and praying.
8. I will not have that much coffee in one setting again.
You know what I discovered when I got back on? I was actually a little overwhelmed when I got back on by the thought of having to catch up on all I missed. (Which for me was mostly Instagram and Facebook.) I realized how "unimportant" it all can really be.
Social media can be an educational tool, or it can be a wonderful way to connect to your favorite people, or it can be a great way to spread God's Word. But all of those are very intentional uses of social media. Most of the time, I'm just scrolling through stuff. And simply being on social media should not be my focus. Educating myself, connecting with my loved ones, and spreading God's Word should be the focus. Simply put, social media should be a means to an end. And I can't elevate the means above the end.
So I challenge you to try this. I'd do it again, and I'm thinking about doing it again sometime this year. You don't have to do it for 40 days, and you don't have to do it for some huge spiritual reason. Just try it. What you learn might surprise you.