135mm, f3.2, 1/500, iso100
President Russell M Nelson, President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, invited the women of the world, (8 years old and up) to participate in a 10-day social media fast. He said, “I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression.”
Although the talk was given Saturday, October 6th, I heard it on October 7th and began my fast on October 8th. It was meant to interpret individually. I had already discontinued my use of TWITTER. I was receiving no benefits from it personally and found that my feed was at least 80% negative, so I quit. Or actually, attempted to. As my inactivity requirement was approaching, allowing my account to terminate, I received a notice that there had been activity on my account that re-activated it. That was not done by me. (suspicious) I need to go through the process again.
FACEBOOK was another platform that I had been off for quite a while. Recently I participated in a social media course that taught me a lot of benefits of FACEBOOK. I am still skeptical but can see how, if used properly, it could be a great resource for me. It was also really helpful when trying to contact family and friends after my father’s passing.
My personal fast would be centered on INSTAGRAM. As I said, I began my fast on October 8th. I fasted from IG for a full 7 days until my father passed away on October 15th. I was grateful not to have that distraction that week before my dad died. I was more present with him and all of my family those days. Although I was 3 days short of the 10-day fast, I began using it again to post about his passing and connect with family. I felt that I had done enough to re-set my social media outlook. About a week later I read a post that my friend had written about her experience. I realized that I had missed the point.
I had neglected to pray much about it…or really reflect on my experience. I decided to try again, this time observing what the fast was changing for me. Were my priorities different? Is there a change I want to make? And then record and follow through my impressions (which I am doing now).
1.) SOCIAL MEDIA IS GOOD. I believe in the goodness of social media. It is a resource that allows us to connect with people all over the world. It is a wealth of knowledge, information, friendship, and inspiration. It is AMAZING! In church meetings I have attended that have approached the subject recently, the negative sides of these platforms have been the main focus. I really do have some understanding of the downsides. I really dislike the manipulation built into each platform, for example. There is a lot of negative content (which is in my control to follow or not). Those downsides, for example, have motivated me to discontinue TWITTER use. They have motivated me to completely restructure how I use FACEBOOK and have also caused me to modify how I use INSTAGRAM as well. But I really do see many more upsides for me in INSTAGRAM, than I do down. I can reach out to friends quickly. I can connect with them, learning about what is going on in their lives without occupying too much time like a phone call or personal visit would. (That does not mean btw that it replaces personal interaction by any means. But can you imagine if you tried to personally connect with every friend you have on social media via phone or in person?) I believe strongly in documenting and sharing our lives with others…and INSTAGRAM is a great method for that. I am choosing to focus on the goodness found there.
2.) SOCIAL MEDIA IS SOCIAL. I was awakened to this by Rowe Timson in her class SERIOUSLY SOCIAL. Imagine you have been invited to a party at your friend’s home. Would you stand on the periphery just observing…watching conversations, observing the other invitees without any engagement or not saying a word? Now I am a bit of an introvert, but I wouldn’t do that. It’s creepy right? How many of us behave that way on social media platforms? Do we scroll through mindlessly observing…pressing a few likes…and then check in minutes later to see if anything had changed? That is typical and perfectly acceptable in our society…but is it good for us? I know it isn’t good for me. I have committed myself to follow people that I would be willing to correspond with and to only go on if I can give my time and attention to actually socializing on social media. I will be more engaged with the people I follow and those who follow me. I browsed past IG posts before I took Rowe’s course, and there were several instances when people reached out and commented and I didn’t respond in turn. I regret that I was distracted and didn’t go back to engage with them…give them the respect they deserve. I will be more social on these platforms…not for better numbers or to improve algorithms, but to treat people the way I want to be treated.
3.) SOCIAL MEDIA IS A POTENTIAL BUFFER. This isn’t true for everyone but is very true for me. I love Jody Moore’s recent description of a buffer (found here). If you have an extra 45 minutes, I highly recommend listening to that episode! Basically, I use INSTAGRAM, ice cream, chocolate and eating out to buffer the negative emotions in my life, which is why I have 20 lbs to lose…and have spent too much time mindlessly on my phone. Mindlessly is the key word there. There is PLENTY of productivity and creativity that the phone has allowed me to accomplish, but overall my habit was to use it for mindlessness and distraction, unfortunately.
To combat the mindlessness and use social media with intention I have decided to implement new strategies:
- only log in if I have time to be there with intention– the intention to be SOCIAL
- notice if I have a purpose to be there…or if I am checking in on social media in order to check out of my real life.
- participate-posting and adding content that will benefit those who see it and myself
- being real…by real I don’t mean only talking about my failings, I mean sharing struggle (and triumph!). I really like pretty pictures, but I don’t want to create an image of perfection and filters. I won’t use “filters” to change my face…but I will definitely continue to use photo editing software to enhance my photography. (I edited the street sign and electrical wires out of the photo on this post for example) I will also share methods and information that can benefit others to improve their photography too. I will be more open and sharing…but NOT dumping all of my problems on the world of IG. This is a tough balance and one I will keep trying to work on being authentic.
I am really grateful for the invitation to complete this fast. I am grateful for the time it gave me to look into the faces of those I love. I am grateful for the new perspective I have and how it will benefit my life. I will also observe with compassion anyone doing anything different (my children for example), then I am choosing to do. These changes are what I NEEDED and not necessarily for anyone else. Have you participated in this fast? Please post your thoughts or link in the comments. I would love to learn more from your experience.