Wahoo! I made it 21 days without going down the social media rabbit hole!!!!!
I do have to confess I jumped on Facebook last weekend to get my small group, Creative Prayer, renamed and advertised. I truly did NOT look at anything else….which was weird. I say it was “weird” because I did see a couple of folks who seem to always pop up first in my newsfeed and thought, “Oh, shoot! It’s Lisa’s birthday. I wonder how many other birthdays I’ve missed?” and then, poof, the feeling was gone.
Please don’t take my “poof” statement as flippant or uncaring. I do like wishing friends a happy birthday, but I did not feel the need to break my fast to send them some good vibes. I love getting happy birthday wishes just like the next person, but I put my 21 days of fasting social media at a higher priority, at least for the moment.
In my original post, Why I’m Fasting Social Media for 21 Days and Don’t Feel Guilty About Doing It, I wrote about three reasons I wanted to try a social media fast this year. Distraction, envy and comparison, and an urging from the Lord were my reasons for seeking Him above all the rabbit hole burrowing. And, I’m happy to report it went better than expected and here’s why:
- I turned off ALL the notifications on my computer and phone one week prior to starting the fast. All social media alerts, all email notifications, every alert I could find, I turned them
I really think by turning off the notifications, I conditioned myself to not expect a “ding”, a “beep”, a “chime”, every few minutes! Once I got past my Pavlovian conditioning for alerts, I could focus on other things, which was the whole reason I was doing this in the first place.
My plan going forward is to keep my notifications turned off. Now that I see what a distraction it truly was, I want to continue to use my time more productively. When I get on Facebook or Pinterest I will have to make an effort to log in and go to those sites.
- Every morning, instead of opening my phone to Facebook, I turned off my alarm (which is on my phone), got my cup of coffee, and turned on my computer to Church of the Highlands live worship and prayer service. Tom and I would watch the service and pray together Sometimes we would stay until the end of the service, but most of the time we got up and started getting ready for our day.
By getting up around 5:50 AM and starting our day off with prayer and worship, we were in a much better place to start our day. Plus, we were dressed and ready for the day much earlier than we were prior to the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. No stress from getting up late and racing out the door!
- Because I wasn’t constantly browsing Facebook or clicking on Pinterest idea after Pinterest idea, I was writing, contacting an editor, a graphic designer, and a web designer, getting stuff done for work, and being available for my family and friends.
I didn’t really think about the amount of “time” it would free me to talk to Tom or my daughter or people in general. Nor did I think about the extra time I would have to get things done around the house and get ahead of myself for work. That was a great bonus I didn’t see coming!!!!!
Twenty-one days ago, I wrote I was “constantly looking at my phone” and would even get “anxious seeing all of my apps open” feeling I had to check each of them all the time. So, distraction was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to fast social media. The continual barrage of dings, beeps, and chimes distracted me to the point I was not getting things done. I’m happy to report that distractions from apps and emails were cut to almost zero!
I honestly feel more relaxed and I’m getting so much more accomplished in my day. I don’t turn around at the end of the day and think, “Oh, shoot! I meant to do this, that, and all that other stuff.” Things actually got done and I could focus on strengthening my relationship with the Lord.
Envy and Comparison
In my blog post from 21 days ago, I also wrote that in my social media scrolling and FOMO (the fear of missing out) I was beginning to sense a bit of envy and a lot of comparing myself to the beautiful people and the exciting lives they seemed to live.
Truth be known, in my head, I know all of those beautiful people and their exciting lives have a lot of filtered and manipulated images helping to create the contrived lives we all fall victim to. Our filtered lives are just delusions and escapes from things we would rather not deal with in our “real” lives.
Thankfully, my 21-day social media fast took me back to a reality with all of its warts and flaws! Real life might not be as attractive as Instagram’s cute, funny, and unattainable filtered faces, but it is authentic. Authenticity is the life we’re given and the one we choose to make the most of until our last day on earth.
This “reality check” showed me all the beauty I’ve been given in this life I’m living and an appreciation for all the people, things, and adventures I’m privileged to have in my life.
Urging from the Lord
With the revelation of how distracted I was becoming and feelings of inadequacy creeping into my head, I stopped and realized God was directing me to fast social media during these 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. And, once again, I listened.
Even as a blogger and soon-to-be-author, I decided I HAD to get some distance between me and social media in order to get closer to God. I’m so glad I did!
Those urgings, those whispers, or that still small voice we hear in our gut could be God telling us to take a different path. We often travel down the comfortable paths we’ve always known without much thought. Not until something happens to snap us out of our myopic view of the world, do we stop and take a U-turn or alternative route. Sometimes that change in direction is just what we need in order to get back on track to a healthy view of ourselves and the world.
I’m happy to report my 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting [social media] was met with great success! Fewer distractions gave way to more productivity. Feelings of inadequacies shifted to a sense of feeling worthy….and loved. Small whispers turned into loud-and-clear directives.
Depriving myself of something that had taken over my time and energy led to a refocused mind, body, and spirit. A habit of beginning my year, my month, my day in prayer with His grace will strengthen my focus, my faith, and my purpose.
I plan to continue the habit of keeping my app and email notifications turned off so that if I do want to get on social media or check emails I have to purposely log on to do so. I have a feeling just adding that extra step may deter me from going down the infamous rabbit hole! I’m sure I still will from time to time, but with much less frequency this time around.
I pray all of you find the thing that is keeping you from growing closer to God and you listen for that still small voice whispering (or yelling) for you to turn around and head in another direction!