6 Benefits Of Doing A Fast From Social Media

6 Benefits Of Doing A Fast From Social Media

Sometimes it doesn't love you back.

Most of us don’t know a life without the heavy presence of social media in our lives. This is a presence we have become intimate with and dependent upon. We’ve all heard older people (or the rare millennials who don’t to have an online profile) in our lives mourn the days when we used to connect over dinner without glancing down at our phones. I idealize those days too. However, the social media revolution has many benefits. The world becomes smaller every day, allowing people to connect and exchange ideas instantaneously and effortlessly. At the same time, the way social media spreads messages among masses of people, it also spreads individuals’ attention far too thin for healthy maintenance of authenticity, self-perception and mental health. Because of the constant use of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., we are not always aware of the ways social exchanges in the digital universe can negatively affect our lifestyle. One of the best ways to be cognizant of the ways that social media is subtracting from quality of life is to go without it for a while.

Many people have noticed a dependence on their profiles and timelines for identity and entertainment, leading them to go on fasts from social media. Social media fasts allow people to, over a fixed period of time, center down and rediscover their individuality, focus, values and relationships without the lens of likes and shares. If you are on the fence about going on a social media fast, here are some reasons to consider making it happen:

1. Less Unhealthy Comparison

Studies show that people who spend large amounts of time scrolling on social media are more likely to suffer from depression. Ideally, an online community would make its users feel connected and cared for. However, some people tend to leave these sites feeling some combination of envy, loneliness, frustration or anger after comparing their lives and feeling socially inadequate compared to their peers. Taking a break from social media can help a person embrace a more realistic, optimistic view of themselves and others.

2. Better Sleep

Computer screens give off blue light, which can trick the body into thinking it is midday when, in reality, it is evening. Exposure to blue light causes the body to produce less melatonin, the sleep hormone. Adequate sleep is an extremely important component of health, and late-night browsing through the explore page of Instagram can cause a person to face difficulty when trying to fall asleep. If you are interested in improving your energy and getting restful sleep, a social media fast may be just for you.

3. Less Stress

Social media supplies an influx of information for the brain to process during what would normally be rest time. The several hour’s people normally spend on sites like Facebook demand time and energy for witnessing opinions, issues and conflicts that are irrelevant to the present time and place. Fasting from social media restores the traditional approach to free time for the duration of the fast, allowing a person to live in the moment and be undivided in their attentions.

4. More Meaningful Social Interaction

Now that people are able to portray their ideal selves on social media, they tend to lose out on real intimacy and accountability. People post all types of information about themselves online, allowing them to practice transparency without actually being vulnerable with others. Important research by TED Talk legend and research professor Brené Brown, suggests that the most integral need of the human race is human connection, which requires vulnerability and authenticity with others. We need these person-to-person connections to live a fulfilled life. For a generation accustomed to editing their images and revising their comments, connecting with people from a place of authenticity takes practice. Need a chance to practice? Social media fast.

5. Cultivating Self-Control

Odds are, the first thing you do after you wake up in the morning and cut off your smartphone alarm is check your social media accounts for updates. I’m also willing to argue that you find yourself throughout the day looking at old posts on Instagram, unable to remember opening the app in the first place. If you are accessing social media on autopilot, it may be a sign of dependency and, possibly, addiction. It’s likely that you also tend to divide the attention you should be giving your loved ones between them and your phone screen. Self-control is important when it comes to managing time well, to the effect of a successful life.

6. More Presence of Mind

The most powerful thing a person can be is present. Before communities became established on the internet in addition to the “real” world, people struggled to keep from focusing on the past and the future. Now, it’s so much more complicated. There is an entire alternative "present" taking place on the internet which is constantly competing with the here and now. Great novelist Leo Tolstoy said, “There is only one time that is important — NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” Let's not give up our power. A social media fast is a good way to exercise personal power when pursuing social goals, creative endeavors, cultural experiences and other priceless ambitions.

Cover Image Credit: Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com via Foter.com / CC BY

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The Blue Whale Challenge Is Deadlier Than You Think

Meet the game that encourages children to commit suicide.

In the age of social media, it isn't uncommon to come across trends like the "Ice Bucket Challenge" or the "Mannequin Challenge." We often dismiss these as a fad, sometimes even partaking in the fun.

One challenge, however, managed to stay under the radar-- it's only evidence from first hand experience and personal stories from friends and family. The Blue Whale Challenge is a social media "game" that encourages children and teens to take their own lives.

The challenge (named for blue whales' tendency to beach themselves to die) first emerged in Russia in 2016. Philipp Budeikin, 21, claimed to have invented the game in 2013 in order to "cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value." He selected people he believed were weak and easy to manipulate. Budeikin had been expelled from his university beforehand, and said he invented the game for fun. In May 2016, he pled guilty to leading 17 teenage girls to take their lives.

How then, does the game work?

Game administrators -- or "curators" -- would reach out to potential participants of the deadly game through Instagram. First, they would ask their target if they wished to play a game. They would then explain the rules, threatening to find, injure and kill the target's family if they didn't follow directions.

Their targets would often be as young as eleven years old, an age group still struggling to figure out their own identity. This group of children were typically already suffering from depression or anxiety; they felt alone and misunderstood in the world. These curators offered a connection in their world.

The "game" consists of 50 challenges over the course of 50 games. They range from using a razor to carve "F57," waking up at 4:20a.m. to watch movies the curators send participants, to ultimately committing suicide. Each challenge requires photographic proof to the game administrator.

The problem with this game is the lack of evidence. Melissa Patton, mother to a 12-year-old girl who was drawn into the game, stumbled across pictures of the challenges in her "deleted" album during a phone search. She couldn't believe her daughter was playing such a deadly game. The only evidence police and parents have of this dangerous trend are the first-hand accounts of survivors and the photo evidence in their phones.

There is no evidence of conversations with these curators due to the conversations being deleted. The only real way to see what a curator says and exactly how the game is structured is to either a) be a part of the game or b) look on the dark web, neither of which is advisable.

Hashtags such as "#F57", "#bluewhalechallenge", "#i_am_whale", and "#curatorfindme" reveal those begging to play the game, hoping to catch the eye of a curator.

These disturbing messages are only the beginning of this tragic game. Pictures show people posting evidence of them fulfilling the challenges, begging for entry into the game.


Fortunately, social media platform Instagram has stepped up, offering support for its users experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. The following message popped up after I searched "#bluewhalechallenge".


It's important for everyone, not just parents, to look out for trends like these. Starting a conversation with your child is the first step, but as Melissa Patton's story proved, regularly checking in on your child's phone and social media presence could save their life. Suffice to say this is worth whatever anger your child may direct at you. It is not an intrusion to make sure your child is mentally healthy.

If you are feeling depressed or full of anxiety, please know you aren't alone in the world. You are worthy, your life is important and you were put on this earth for a reason. Maybe you haven't discovered that reason yet, but that's part of the adventure of life!

Talk to someone; you can reach out to me if you want an ear. Just remember there are people in the world who do and will want to know you. This moment marks the rest of your life -- and it should be full!

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat with them online if you feel more comfortable writing.

Choose to live, if not for yourself, then for someone else until you can live for yourself.

You are worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Stefano Pasqualin

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Poetry On Odyssey: What Is A Poem?

I never know what to write when I feel depressed.

I never know what to write when I feel depressed. Should I write in rhymes just so I can express... myself? Or can I just write a paragraph, no stanzas at all, and call it a work of art? I don't know. What is a poem? Is it an answer to a question? Is it following a question with a question? I guess that begs the question of what is the question and the question to the question. My question questions the questions and the questions that follow the question. Does a poem need to make sense? What if the point is to not make sense? What is the point of writing? Is it to make ourselves feel good? Because I still feel shitty afterwards. Is it to make others feel good? Because why the fuck do I care?

I never know what to write when I feel depressed

Because I feel the heaviness of my chest

The kind that makes me drag my fucking legs

That has me squeezing the fucking temples of my head

Where I'm lying for hours on end on my fucking bed

Jesus I wish I was fucking dead

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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