I wish there was one simple reason why my best friend and I chose to fast from social media, it would certainly help me explain things. Unfortunately though, there are multiple reasons we chose to leave all our pretty little apps behind. Some of which include the effort of upkeep, the stress of being "enough" for others, and the amount of time we spent ogling at other's fortunes. I'm sure there are even reasons behind our want to take a hiatus from the shiny media world than we realize. All of this aside, however, if I had to choose a main reason behind our decision, I think it would be the fight with comparison that so often starts on social media. The "look at them" and the "look at me" syndrome. The sadness and inferiority we force upon ourselves when we falsely convince our gullible brains that the best and edited moments of a stranger's life are better than our mundane and plain ones. That is what we are faced with every single day, every single hour, every single click. Maybe me and my friend are alone (although I highly highly doubt it), but that cat and mouse game always ending in weak confidence got super tiring. We realized we were placing our self worth more in the world than in Jesus. We realized we weren't resting our hearts in the right place. So, we decided to take a step back, if only for a bit, to see how it would change us, to see what we would learn. Well, I'm pleased to announce that we did as we promised and survived! Wow! Who would have thought? (Jokes). With that experience fresh in my mind, I believe I can safely provide some truth behind what a social media fast looks like to a couple young adults. Although I know I cannot fully speak for my friend since I am only one person with one perspective, I promise that I asked and included her input (plus, our results and opinions on the matter ended up pretty similar). I hope, through this little article, to shed some light on how a fast from social media in this internet crazed day and age may benefit you. That is, if you are feeling washed up and tired from Instagram's perfect photos or Twitter's silly sub-tweets, like we were. Without further ado, here are the biggest lessons we learned, both serious and funny.
1. You Touch Your Phone Too Much.
The amount of times I caught myself reaching for my phone, unlocking it, and checking the time even though I knew the hour, was ridiculous. I had no reason to switch from the first home screen to the second and then back again, no reason to read my last conversation with my mom, no reason to check my mail AGAIN even though I refreshed it two minutes before. Whether it be because you are waiting in line for your coffee and have nothing better to do with your hands or you are tired of reading for class and want a break, the first instinct of mine was always to grab my phone. Our blind scrolling wastes away so much time in our days that we could be spending doing more important and productive things. It's sad really.
2. Confidence Grows.
When you aren't stumbling upon a flawless photo of an Instagram model right after analyzing yourself in the mirror, your perspective tends to change a bit for the better. That's how it works though, isn't it? One second, you'll think you look fine, good enough to walk with a smile on your face, well enough to not want to hide behind your hair when a cute boy walks by, but then you see a picture of someone looking INCREDIBLE and your entire demeanor changes. You don't care that they probably had their hair and makeup done by professionals, you don't care that their bodies could even be photoshopped, all you can think about is that you don't look like that and now you're frowning as you walk. It's a day ruin-er, really. But stay away from the place that makes you feel so low and you find that your confidence will come again and stay for the day.
3. It Can Bring People Closer Together.
Let me tell you, doing a fast like this with a friend is genius, not only because you can hold each other accountable, but also because it had the power to bring you both closer together. It's crazy to me how many friendships consist of being in the same room, but focusing on people miles even countries away. When you don't have social media to scroll through, you find yourself talking and (surprise!) being listened to. You aren't being mhm-ed as your friends stare at their phone screens, you are being payed attention to, face to face, mind to mind. It's a rare and amazing thing to experience these days and after you get used to it, I'm afraid it spoils you.
4. There Are Better Things To Be Doing.
Like daily devotionals, going for walks, grabbing coffee with an old or new friend. We spend so much times on our phones, more than we realize and more than we care to admit, we forget how much we can really get done in a day and how much more fulfilling life truly can be. If given the chance and the opportunity, so much can happen for us in regards to bettering ourselves. If we refuse to be so distracted and worrisome over things out of our control, over things in other's lives, we simply have more time to help and serve others, focus on school, and work on improving ourselves. As my friend noted, "you make more time to be a good person, not a cool person".
5. It's Easier To Be Present.
This sort of goes along with the two points above, but it deserved it's own explanation. Beyond fully comprehending a conversation and understanding a lesson in class, being away from social media helps you be more aware of where you are. It's kind of crazy how we can be sitting somewhere and though we know where we are technically, we aren't fully aware, we aren't present. Instead, we are hyper focused on what we need to do in the day or distracting our brains with gossip and little life updates from basic strangers. When you aren't staring at your phone for whatever reason, you are actually able to look around you and enjoy where you are right then, not where you plan to be in an hour, not where you wish you were based on the snazzy bloggers you follow, where you are in the moment. It helps you be more thankful and mindful of the simple things like the way trees move in the wind, the sound of someone's laughter, and the warmth of a fresh baguette.
6. The Dependency Is Scary.
Our tendency to grab our phones the second we have a moment to ourselves is crazy. Whether we are waiting for a ride or for our professors to start teaching, whether it's to avoid awkward eye contact with the stranger in front of you or to look somewhat busy or important, we are always reaching and scrolling. Perhaps worse than that habit is our distraction dependency. The second something happens, we scramble for the distraction of social media, our fingers itch to leave our world in the search for what we think is "better". News flash, the grass isn't greener. Instead of facing the problems and trials that come with life head on, we fumble with social media to numb whatever worry plagues us. After avoiding social media, the dependency we usually have on our phones became clear and it was pretty unnerving to say the least.
7. There Is Good With The Bad.
While all of the above points have been the reasons the fast was great, this one is a down side. While it isn't enough of a down side to discredit the importance and validity of going on a social media fast, it is enough to mention. Even if you are off of social media, that doesn't mean the world is. You are reminded quite quickly that life goes on, with or without you. A lot of the times, when off social media, you miss out on things. And I don't mean what your old friends from high school are up to, I mean news and important updates for clubs you are involved in. There were plenty of close calls where I would have been late or early or in the wrong room because I wasn't notified on Facebook or Instagram. Luckily, I had friends who could enlighten me on any changes or updates, but still it showed how much being plugged in is prominent in our lives.
8. Originality Is Found.
Maybe it's just me, but so many times I would have an idea and be so excited for about two minutes before I would realize it wasn't my idea at all, it was something I saw a day before on social media. When you are out of the world of others, you don't have to worry about that. You get to find sources of inspiration apart from the public, you get to lean on your own thoughts and no one else's before moving forward with a project, you get to try new things. A lot can arise when you are not being force fed other's opinions, accomplishments, and experiences. You get to form your own. You find originality.
9. You Feel Clean.
I recommend fasting from social media often because it really is beneficial for your mental health and spiritual walk. For all the reasons above and more, it is helpful at improving who you are and who you can be for others. It sets yourself back on track at acknowledging who you are in Jesus and not in the world. It redirects your focus on the things that matter. It washes you clean from the clutter and dirt of comparison and self-doubt. It's like a fresh start, the rainbow after it rains.
10. After A While, You Don't Miss It.
I don't plan to lie here, at first this fast was challenging. It's ridiculous and sad, but fasting like this isn't easy. You reach for your phone, you wish you knew what your friends were Snapchatting, you wonder what is popular in the social world and why, but after a while (and not as long as I expected), living life outside of social media gets easier. You don't worry as much about what others think of you, you spend more time in honest reflection, and you care more about what matters and less about how many likes your photo gets. You put your effort and worth in the right places.
Truth be told, my friend and I are super glad we did this fast. I do plan on repeating it often. I suggest you do the same. It is a great way to reroute your attention on what matters, an effective way to rest in Jesus and not in the things of this world. Comparison is tiring, jealousy is hurtful, pride is dangerous. It's best to step back from the places that fuel those harmful traits and habits. If you are anything like me and my friend and social media is a main source for negativity and anxiety, I fully recommend leaving it for a while. Focus on being a good and fruitful person, life is not about being "cool". Pay attention to who you are as a child of God, not who you are depending on other's opinions of your social media page. Think about being kind and humble and giving before you think about why the latest meme is trending. Find rest and peace in the right places and you'll feel much better. This was the truth behind a social media fast for me and my friend. This was our experience and the lessons we learned. I hope you took something away from this. If you didn't and you need a more precise point, here it is: go on a social media fast.