What I learned from my 10 day Social Media Fast…
Why on earth would anyone go off of social media for 10 days in the first place? A question many of you may be asking, and the topic of many discussions I’ve had with friends and family since October 6. The conversations went something like this “I’m off of social media this week, but I know you can’t be, because of your business.” After thinking about this for days, I feel I need to share my thoughts. Normally, I share recipes on A Bountiful Kitchen. But occasionally, I share about things of the heart. Issues that impact my life, and yours and how I feel about those issues. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the evening of October 6, 2018 at the General Women’s Session, the president of our church, Russell M. Nelson challenged all women 8 & up to participate in a 10 day social media fast. He gave us 4 challenges, listed below, but the most talked about was probably the call to fast from social media! Here are President Nelson’s challenges in short form, the full text, video and audio may be found here:
- Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and any other media which may produce negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Have any of your priorities shifted? Record and follow through with each impression.
- I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. As you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you.
- Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. Seek to know more, to understand more, to feel more about temples than you ever have before.
- For you who are of age, participate fully in Relief Society. Study the current Relief Society purpose statement. It is inspiring. It may guide you in developing your own purpose statement for your own life.
Sitting in a local church building watching the meeting, I knew I was witnessing something special. A call from the president of our church to make a difference in the world started with his prophetic words… “My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities. Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so.” How would refraining from scrolling through Instagram going to change the world? Here’s what I learned from my 10 day social media fast, and how I went about my fast:
Dropping My Net
Getting off of social media was an uncomfortable task. I knew as I listened to his talk that dropping my net (giving up social media) right away was the right decision for me. I had committed to a couple of collaborations with brands previous to the challenge issued by President Nelson, but as the meeting went on I felt something in my heart. I made a couple of calls and sent some emails. Ultimately, both of the collaborations were postponed until the fast was over. The choice to commit to a 10 day fast from social media is, and was, a very personal decision. There was no timeline given, no date to start, simply a call to “Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and any other media which may produce negative and impure thoughts to your mind.” President Nelson also asked the women to “pray about what influences to remove during your fast”. This was a highly personal directive. For some this may have meant Facebook, for some Snapchat or Instagram. And for others, who are not on social media, giving up tv shows or movies. There are some who rely on income from their business online to pay the mortgage. For those women, I know many who continued to post but exited social media once their obligations were completed, which worked for them. Again, this was a very personal decision, which I respect no matter if a person decided to take a social media fast, or not.
A TEN Day Fast? Really?
In my mind, I thought why would President Nelson ask us to do this for TEN DAYS, and not 7 as he asked the youth of our church in a word wide meeting in June of 2018? Did he mean a 7 day fast (that actually went through my mind…I’m sure he meant to say 7 days, not 10, right)? Wendy Nelson, wife of President Nelson spoke to a group of women in our church 5 days after the challenge was issued. I had the privilege of being in attendance when she spoke that day. She spoke about the challenge and on a projector screen showed the caption “WHAT WAS PRESIDENT NELSON THINKING??” The next slide said “WHAT WAS THE LORD THINKING?” She went on to explain the directive came from the Lord, through President Nelson. Why would the Lord ask us to do this? All we have to do is read about the negative effects of social media on women to understand why. I have challenges in my life. I’m often too critical of others, I don’t have a lot of self control when it comes to eating healthy, I’m disorganized, I start too many projects I don’t finish and often overcommit myself, and the list goes on. But unlike many women, I’ve never been caught up in the comparison trap which can be debilitating. Social media only magnifies this issue which seems to plague so many women. I know women who say they are discouraged on Mother’s day or when they listen to General Conference because they feel like they never measure up. And social media…well, it puts many women over the edge. They feel like they are not pretty enough or skinny enough or rich enough or anything enough. They think that the cookies they make will not be Instagram worthy, or the party they throw would never be featured on Pinterest. The list of comparisons go on and on and I think our Heavenly Father knows if we can get our eyes off of social media where we get bogged down in comparison and focused on the Savior, we can get our feet on the ground and our heads clear enough to know we are children of a loving God. And that, my friends can change everything!
All or Nothing.
For me, getting off of social media had to be all or nothing. Instead of deleting the App off my phone, I simply pushed it to the last screen where I never go. It was sitting there by it’s lonesome, away from my other apps and email which are on my home screen. Out of sight, and after a few days, out of mind. Honestly, if you remove the temptation, it’s less of a habit to push the button every time you pick up the phone. I checked direct messages for a few days, but realized most people who follow me were either off of social media or they realized I was off and stopped tagging me or sending me messages via Instagram. It was good to completely unplug from Instagram. I have other social accounts including Pinterest and Facebook which I also use for A Bountiful Kitchen. The other social accounts are managed by members of my team. We decided to post to those accounts after the 10 day fast was complete as well. My dad was a 3 pack a day smoker back in the day, and one day, he quit, cold turkey. I asked him how he did it, and he said it was easier to just stop than use medications or slowly abstain. I totally agree.
Last week was one of the most productive weeks I have had in a long time. I try to convince myself I don’t spend an excessive amount of time on social media, and I have to be on social media because that’s how I drive traffic to my site, but the truth is, I spend far too much time on Instagram. I manage to run a small business, volunteer at my church and in the community, and socialize and keep up with friendships. But how much time do I waste scrolling through social media feeds? The day I got back on social media, my eyes were opened wide to the truth. In the time I was off of social media, the latest iPhone update added a Screen Time feature. Haven’t seen it yet? It is found in Settings, right under the Do Not Disturb feature. It’s an eye opener. The feature allows you to set time limits on social media. I’m now using this feature to alert me when I’ve spent more than 30 minutes on social media. Interestingly, the majority of women I spoke to about the social media fast said they were actually dreading getting back on. My thought exactly. Which brings me to the question. What’s wrong with this picture?
Last Big Takeaway From My 10 Day Social Media Fast
The tie in with President Nelson’s second request or challenge to the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his address on October 6: “I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation. As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends. You and they will be drawn closer to the Savior through this process. And changes, even miracles, will begin to happen. Please teach those whom you love what you are learning from the scriptures. Teach them how to turn to the Savior for His healing and cleansing power when they sin. And teach them how to draw upon His strengthening power every day of their lives.”
The admonition to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year takes time. It requires a commitment of regular reading. For me, the time freed up when I was off of social media made reading and studying easy. I read scriptures every day and have for several years. But there are times when I don’t read first thing in the morning. When that happens, the day gets away from me and I sleepily read just before turning out the light. When I make time to focus on reading, pondering, and studying the scriptures, my testimony of and love for the Savior Jesus Christ increases beyond measure. His name is written upon my heart when I give my undivided attention and learn of Him. I found my ability to read without interruption was simple without the distraction of my phone. One of my friends said to me “When you’re not looking at social media, there’s no reason to look at your phone!” HA. Maybe an exaggeration, but true in the sense we don’t tend to spend hours on our phones when we aren’t caught up in the scrolling game.
Social Media and Women – A Force For Good
I believe there is a healthy way to use social media. Social media can and is used for good every day. We have had sweet and positive experiences with social media in our family (see video below).
My daughters Corrine (Mint Arrow) and Brooke (Female Foodie) also each run an online business and have large social media followings. We discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly effects of social media regularly. Each of our brands would suffer without the interactions we have with our loyal readers on social media! The relationships we have through social media are rewarding, but at the end of the day, we try to keep each other in check as we spend time talking about focusing on what matters most.
I love this statement by Russell M. Nelson “No one can do what a righteous woman can do. No one can duplicate the influence of a mother. Men can and often do communicate the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior to others. But women have a special gift for it—a divine endowment. You have the capacity to sense what someone needs—and when he or she needs it. You can reach out, comfort, teach, and strengthen someone in his or her very moment of need….”
May I add, as women, we can only do this if we are present, looking upward and outward instead of down at our phones. I’m putting limits on my social media use and the time I have my phone in hand. There have been many times my kids and Grant get a little impatient when I don’t answer my phone or a text right away! I’ve never been one to stay tethered to my phone. But I know I can make improvements to waste less time when my phone is in hand, and focus more on things that matter most.
I’ll end with something President Nelson said which really made an impression on my mind. He said “Women Shape the future.” I know this to be true. It’s an absolute truth in my life. If you’re still reading, you are one of those women. Make a commitment to make a change if you’re spending too much time on social media and too little time snuggling your littles (with both hands)! Resolve to spend more time reading, cooking 🙂 , serving and testifying of the things you know in your heart to be true. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.