When my friend asked if I wanted to join her in giving up social media for Lent, I hesitated. Mostly because I wasn’t sure I could do it. And I didn’t want to make a promise I couldn’t keep.
And with the realization that I legitimately might fail at choosing to not mindlessly scroll for 6.5 weeks, I had to do it. I don’t want anything man-made to have that kind of power over me.
On Fat Tuesday, I deleted and hid all social media apps on my phone. And as I launched myself into a social media-free existence, it became really clear how much of my time on social is just mindless habit. A flip-flip-flip… unlock phone, flip to social apps, click on Instagram. By just putting Instagram in a different place on my phone, it was enough to remind me that the choice was mine. I could either go hunt for it, or choose not to worry about it.
Although I did spend the first few days wondering what to do with my hands, the choice was shockingly easy.
When I first gave up social media, coronavirus was just a hint of something that might be a thing. I remember going to Target with my ashes on because I had an inkling I might need to get some Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. By the following Monday, the world as we knew it was starting to unravel.
A social media fast in the midst of our collective social contact fast turned into an unexpected and prescient blessing.
Everything on social media is looking for a reaction. Literally, we click on our reaction… hearts, likes, dislikes, laughter, horror. But what is happening right now, it’s a lot. I still haven’t fully processed it. I’m not sure I’ve even started. I don’t think any of us have. And if you are having a reaction right now, it might be different with a little more time and space. I know it all is a little confused inside me. Social media is full of emotions, thoughts, opinions, and too. much. news.
The last thing I needed/need was the little space I have between work, news, updates, checking in and with family and friends, and my own reactions and feelings to be crowded by a barrage of input from an algorithm.
I did miss seeing updates and photos from family and friends. But text and FaceTime filled in the gaps. And I missed memes. A lot. Like a lot a lot.
But I think the biggest lesson is pretty similar to what I observed in the beginning – it’s a choice. And I get to choose what I allow into my spiritual space, my brain space, my emotional space, and my heart space.
Social media is a vice and virtue. A paradox. Another time, I’ll ponder on paradox. But that’s what it is.
There is so much good. Connection across distance and isolation. Humor, love, caring, sharing. And there’s a lot of not good stuff, too.
As it dawned on me Easter Sunday that I could go back on the socials, I hesitated. Mostly because I don’t want to go back to a place where I’m not sure I can give it up. I’ve treasured the sacred space my Lenten social fast created.
I’ll go back on tomorrow. I think.