Fortyish days ago I announced that I would be taking a sabbatical from social media as my Lenten fast.
I did. It’s over. I’m back.
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t feeling ambivalent about diving back into social media or my digital life.
I would also be lying if I told you that I stayed away completely over the course of the Lenten season. The last two weeks were filled with scrolling Instagram at least once a day (all the pretty pictures!) and the occasional tweet. I can tweet with the confidence that very few people will see my tweet, let alone interact with it, unlike Facebook, where I either have too much feedback to respond to or I’m left wondering why no one noticed my clever status update. It’s crazy making, for all of us. I’ve actually seen people post status updates asking why no one responded to their last one and even asking for a “show of hands” via likes or comment to check in on who is seeing their posts. That’s not a good look for anybody.
Twitter hasn’t been that way for me. I know very few of my scant following personally, and I just don’t find the platform as engaging. So when I chirp out a tweet, it’s kind of like I’m typing my thoughts into the ether. It’s very Zen.
During my fast, I realized that I actually hate Facebook (the only platform I almost entirely avoided during my fast). Unsurprisingly, I recognized it has a really negative impact on my mental and emotional well being. I used to think that when people said things like “There’s just too much negativity and anger out there on social media,” that they weren’t facing reality, or worse, dismissing the experiences of people with less privilege than they have.
And at some level, I stilll do think that, but, there really is a lot of negativity and anger out there. You can’t take a casual dip in bad water without walking away feeling a little bit sick.
Unfortunately, Facebook is the platform that affords me the most connection with the people I know IRL. Which, when you live across the country from family and other loved ones, matters. My grandfather passed away two weeks ago, and it was encouraging to see the outpouring of love and support for my family there.
Taking a break also highlighted for me how much I actually enjoy social media. It’s easy for it to feel like this addictive, somewhat necessary evil. There’s this perspective that social media is sucking away our ability to focus on any one thing from more than five minutes and connect genuinely with others, but it actually can be just a hobby and something to be used for fun.
I haven’t been using it for fun, though. For a long while, I’ve been trying to build “something” with my social media presence, but I haven’t had any direction or purpose beyond attaining followers. Instagram can feel like a game in that way, but even the game of gathering followers gets boring fast.
After this Lenten fast, I still want to build “something”, but I have a clearer vision. I know more about the community I want to build. I can recognize the quality of the work I want to put out into the world.
And I want it to be enjoyable. It needs to be. And it needs to be healthy, which means it might all happen very, very slowly. I feel like my mind is constantly running through a never-ending to-do list, punctuated by the needs of my toddler. This makes everything feel like it's taking twice as long as it needs to. This is painful for me, but I’m learning that it's a better way of life to go along with the process instead of against it. It offers me a lot more room to breathe.
But I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and my world. And as always, friends, I’m grateful for you. thanks for following along.