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My Social Media Fast: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This spring (I tend to think of life in terms of semesters, not weather-guided seasons), I decided to take a social media fast.

My Social Media Fast: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Des Moines Moms Bloglove social media.

I am an extrovert with a pretty strong case of FOMO, so social media helps me to stay connected and in the know (even when life is busy with kids, work, and a husband in grad school).

That being said, I felt like my social media consumption was starting to get out of its normal boundaries.

Do you ever have that feeling?

Like one part of your life–a good part–is starting to encroach on other things?

For you, it might be a hobby, working out, kids’ activities.

But for me, for now, it was social media.

So, I decided to go cold turkey. Delete the apps from my phone (don’t need that temptation). Tell my spouse and a few friends. Post a status update. And done.

The Good

One of the first things I noticed was that it was easier to go to bed when I had planned. I started choosing to read since scrolling wasn’t an option, and it was easier to cut myself off at a chapter or two to get to sleep. Although there was that one night that I tried to push it to a third chapter, fell asleep with my Kindle in my hand, and woke up thinking I chipped my tooth when said Kindle slammed into my face. Oops.

I still took copious amounts of pictures of my kiddos during the fast, but without needing time to upload them, think of a cute caption, etc., I like to think that I spent a lot more time being present with my kiddos.

The Bad

Throughout the fast, there was no denying how much I use social media as a coping tool.  

Don’t want to mentally deal with something? Start scrolling.

Feeling bored, tired, anxious? Just scroll!

Feeling lonely? Pretend that you’re connected–all it takes is a quick scroll!

Don’t get me wrong. We all need distraction. We can’t always dive head-first into our emotions in the moment. Sometimes, scrolling can elicit real connection in real life (a lot of the time, I would argue!). What bothered me about my responses was the automatic nature of my choice. I never like being in a place where I’m not considering what I’m doing. I also realized that I had gotten tunnel vision about connection, and taking this fast helped me broaden my connection strategies (write a letter, send a card, set-up a coffee date).

The Ugly

Ladies, we had three really close losses during the time I was on this fast.

I texted a friend to see how her husband was doing (he’d been battling cancer) only to find out he had died (she had been keeping people informed via social media).

Truthfully, that undid me.

I was ready to throw in the towel.

After all, there were only a few weeks left.

What difference did my silly fast make in light of this news?

But a wise friend reminded me–it matters much more what you do for your widowed friend in the next three years more so than only the next three weeks.

Then another week and a close friend died.

The following week, a dear friend lost her child.

It’s been rough (and there’s probably a whole separate blog post on grief).

But I like to think that since I still wasn’t scrolling, I was able to spend more time praying, talking things through with people, and when I attended those funerals, there was no call to distraction in my pocket.

Is it for you?

I’ve got no way to say for sure if a social media fast would be the right choice for you in this season of life.

You might be a stay-at-home mama and this is your connection to the world outside of sippy cups and diaper changes.

You might be a working mama and this is your way to stay connected to friends because you can’t go to the park play date on a Wednesday morning.

But, if you’re considering it, I’d just encourage you to do three things.

  1. Have accountability. There will be plenty of times you want to quit!
  2. Have alternative strategies. How will you stay connected or foster relationships if not through social media?
  3. Have goals. What do you hope to do instead?

If you’ve taken a social media break before, what’s your best advice?

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2 Responses to My Social Media Fast: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. Erica April 21, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    So how long did you go? Are you still fasting? If you’re planning to phase back in (or did phase back in), do you have any tips? I don’t think a complete fast is right for me but I do think I’m on social media (just checking/reading, etc.) far too much and would like to have good ideas to limit myself. It sounds silly but I really want some sort of app to force myself to only check every so often or only spend XX minutes per day — sort of like the child apps there are for iPads — I need a woman/mama app to limit myself because my self-control only does so much.

  2. Autumn
    Autumn April 21, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    Great questions! I did it during Lent. I hadn’t really done Lent as a spiritual practice/season, but it seemed like a good amount of time. Admittedly, when I first dived back in, it was overload. But it came back up to a reasonable amount.

    Something I read in a different vein is that if you fast without another purpose (or something you are going to intentionally replace that time with), you’re not fasting. You’re just going hungry.

    So I’d encourage you. Maybe you just fast one day a week. Or even one evening a week (that’s my time I usually uber-scroll). But what would you replace that time with?

    I think that boundaries for ourselves–just like with our children are a GOOD thing. I just always want balance that with what is the purpose of the rule? What heart-attitude is it supposed to support? And what would that look like?

    Hope this helps a bit!

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