When President Russell M. Nelson issued a challenge to the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to engage in a 10-day media fast, I thought I would have no problem. I am not a huge poster on social media (although I do my share of lurking), and most of my time spent online is for work.
So, I jumped into the 10-day fast with gusto, figuring it would be way easier than President Nelson’s additional challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.
But only a day into the fast I quickly realized just how often I am mindlessly scrolling or checking my social media accounts throughout the day. To my surprise, I reached for my phone:
• At stoplights (rather than talking to my children).
• While waiting for my daughter at gymnastics (instead of watching her).
• While dinner cooked on the stove.
• In the morning before getting out of bed.
• At night before turning out the light.
• While my son entertained himself with blocks.
• Basically anytime my brain was not actively engaged in something else.
I had absolutely no idea I was checking social media that often. Like I said, I don’t post a ton, but I am disappearing from the real world into the online one a lot more than I thought. And sadly, most of the time I am doing it when my children are around. I’m giving up moments with them to scroll through who-knows-what on my phone for people, many of whom I’ve never even met.
Once I was aware of how often I was getting sucked in to social media, I started also to take note of how I felt being off it. I did have to check my messages and some notifications regarding work deadlines, but other than that, I really tried to stop myself from simply consuming what everyone else was posting each day.
By the end of the 10-day fast, I noticed a thing or two.
I felt more connected to the people around me. I played games with my kids and talked to them about their day more.
I felt less stressed. My Twitter and Instagram feed are mostly made up of other writer friends. Most of the time, this is a great way for me to connect with other authors and learn about publishing. But it also means I do a lot of comparing. I see other people’s success and start to feel stressed and depressed about my own. When I stepped away, I felt like I could focus again more fully on what I am doing rather than what everyone else is.
I felt more productive. I don’t know if I actually completed any more tasks than normal this week, but I certainly felt like my phone wasn’t consuming the lion’s share of my time.
In today’s world, I don’t believe it’s practical to get off all social media all the time. As a mom and as a writer, I learn a lot from my online friends and often need the communities I’ve built on various social platforms.3 comments on this story
But this social media fast showed me that I can scale back — way back. I can set better limits for when and how I engage with social media. In particular, I'm going to try to:
• Not engage in social media on weekends.
• Check social media accounts only once daily at a specific time.
• Leave my phone in the car more during outings and activities.
More than anything, I don’t want to unwittingly let social media work its way into my brain and my home. I want my children to see my face, not the top of my head. And I want to use social media to enhance my life, not replace it.