Should I fast from social media?
Sueann Tan // March 6, 2019, 8:59 am
I have a crazy relationship with social media.
It’s a lot of fun for someone who appreciates aesthetics. Filter presets, newsfeed curation and options for beautiful Instagram story layouts are just some of the many things I get into as a personal hobby. A friend put it this way: “People unwind with colouring books, I do it with Instagram.”
It’s why I do this as a profession. I got into social media because I enjoy being creative and telling stories in the digital sphere. I’m not a graphic designer, professional photographer or illustrator, but social media marketing has given me access to practise visual creativity in simpler ways than I’d be able to in traditional advertising.
But I’ve also seen experience the unhealthy side to social media.
I frequently find myself scrolling through my feed – numbed and aimless. I’ll often be looking at my friends’ picture-perfect shots, and subconsciously comparing myself to them.
Oh, and let’s not even get started on likes, comments, and views: Why is someone no longer looking at my stories or liking my posts? Why is that person giving that attention to someone else instead?
I am guilty as charged of having felt that way, one too many times. I’ve managed to overcome a lot in my life, receive inner healing and grow in tremendous ways. But I am not perfect, and am still susceptible to these toxic ways of thinking if I am not intentional about guarding my heart against them.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ” (Proverbs 4:23)
I want to encourage more people to get in on this fast from social media.
So, I dedicate periods of time throughout the year to a social media fast. That is, deactivating my social media accounts or deleting the apps from my phone during that period. I also go as far as disconnecting from other digital entertainment platforms such as Netflix.
I’ve practised social media fasts over the past 3 years, and completed each one with no regrets. This time, I want to encourage more people to get in on this fast from social media.
What is the main purpose of the fast?
It’s to be more intentionally present with people and connected with God. We are often too dependent on connectivity to learn more about others or communicate with them even. We are so buried in entertainment and we have become social media voyeurs who are far less willing to strike up a conversation with the people right in front of us.
Even if you don’t see yourself as a “people person”, why not consider these other benefits of fasting from social media for an extended period of time?
3 BENEFITS OF BREAKING FREE FROM SOC-MED
1. Break unhealthy rhythms, birth new discipline
Have you ever realised how naturally your finger goes straight to the Instagram app whenever you’re bored or restless? Do you find yourself scrolling through the same feed for the third time in 5 minutes? Are you someone who falls asleep to back-to-back IG Stories or random YouTube videos?
I am curious to know what could happen if we broke these habits. You might say that it’s harmless, but I’ve realised that social media quickly becomes a crutch or dependency. So much so that you do it while in a work meeting, or when someone is talking to you. It’s not even that the person is boring. You just don’t know what else to do while not doing anything.
Going on a fast can help to break that habit.
2. A clearer view of the world and yourself
Even if we claim to be the strongest, most self-sufficient and least impressionable person in the world, let me tell you this: Listen to the same thing enough and you will subconsciously buy into it. After all, how do you think advertising works?
When you practise an extended disconnect from social media, you basically stop absorbing all the messages that are being fed to you online. I love that this silence allows you to start rediscovering your goals, identity, strengths and even weaknesses.
Listen to the same thing enough and you will subconsciously buy into it.
And this silence allows me to connect even deeper with God through His Word. I begin to receive greater clarity of who He is, what He thinks of the world and what He thinks of me.
Disconnecting from the online world gives you a greater appreciation and understanding of the real world around you. People are not that bad to talk to in person. There is actually a lot of beauty that surrounds you, if you choose to look.
3. You learn to just be
You learn to be okay with the silence in your head. You learn to be okay with not doing something or being occupied by something. Imagine experiencing this after years of being told that you must be productive. It’s very strange and almost alarming at first. But then you begin to realise that it’s okay to just be.
Some of my greatest moments of rest come from when I practise this during my personal time with God. Instead of trying to finish another devotional or rattle off from my prayer list – I simply stay quiet.
Don’t like silence and inactivity? It’s likely you need it the most!
The Bible reveals that God is still speaking to us, and so many sceptics have said that they hear nothing, using this as a reason to validate that God does not exist. But often the reason we can’t hear Him is because we are simply too busy to stay still, be quiet and listen.
Don’t like silence and inactivity? It’s likely you need it the most! Perhaps the clutter and noise of social media has been comforting enough for you not to face certain truths that will move you forward.
I will be going on a 6-week social media fast starting today and I’m encouraging you to join me.
Here’s how it will work:
- Deactivate all social media accounts.
- Delete apps and don’t access them.
- Give up Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and all social or entertainment platforms used to pass time.
- Document your journey through the fast and what you discover.
Connect with me if you’re interested to take on this fast. You can prayerfully consider how long your fast will be.
I’d like to stay in touch via email, so I can drop you occasional notes of encouragement. As this is a connectivity-related fast, I would prefer less online correspondence, so emails will be kept to a minimum. If you live in Singapore, let me know – I’m game to set up offline hangouts so we can practise face-to-face connections.
Imagine how much change there would be in our culture, and in ourselves, if we all practised this. The possibilities are endless. I hope that no matter what you choose, you’ll be positively impacted by someone’s decision to practise healthy social media habits.