But Colleen, Lent isn't even halfway over yet!
I know, I know, BUT I did give up Instagram for Lent last year as well, so I think I'm qualified to speak on the subject.
Well, that's never stopped you before.
So anyway, here's seven thoughts on what a social media fast has made me realize (linking up with Kelly!)
Social media allows us to be selfish friends.
It's true, isn't it? We can get on and post what we're doing and assume everyone wants to know, but then can get back off without checking in on any of our "friends". Then we can log back on to see how many likes or comments we got because obviously, that matters. Imagine if you had a friend in your life who only talked about themselves, wanted you to affirm her, and then never asked about what was going on in your life. Would you like to be around her? Nope, she would be a selfish person in your mind. Yet, that's what we all do on social media. Social media is more about portraying our story and peeking in on other's lives than curating true friendships. True friendships exist outside social media.
If anyone has any big news, they will let me know the old fashioned way.
Sure, you say you use social media to make new friends and connect with old friends. Of course! I've met lots of lovely people virtually, and some of them have led to real friendships. It's all of those social-media-only-friendships that I'm talking about. If we are truly friends, then we will let each other know about what's going on in our lives texting, a phone call, or a visit. If someone is getting engaged, having a baby, moving away...and I miss it because it's announced on Instagram during Lent...then how close am I to that person?
I crave more extroverted social outings when I'm not staring at my screen all day.
I'm such an introvert, and while social media seems to make sense for introverts because Hey! I can be anti-social IRL but social on my phone! it is still emotionally draining. Now that I'm off, and I'm not feeling full of other people's lives, I crave real hangouts. I understand why my husband always wants to get together with people now - he doesn't have any social media!
It makes my life easier.
I no longer feel the pressure to get a photo to post, or come up with a funny caption. I don't feel the urge to find out what's going on in everyone else's lives. I just need to worry about what's on my family's to do list, and live life without filters, enjoying real moments in real time.
My kids are happier.
The older kids have been growing increasingly frustrated about what I post, even though I mostly ask them permission. Their friends all know that our family went to a baseball game on a weekend as soon as they walk into school on Monday morning, and they feel a bit violated that "everybody knows about our life!" My response has always been "Why are your friends following your mother?" (I don't follow any kids, for the record) and they say it's because we won't allow them to get Instagram, so their friends keep up with our family instead. I get it, it's tough on them to have such a famous mother (hahahaha) and they are happier and more willing to get into photos when I say "These aren't going on Instagram". Besides, if I won't allow them to have Instagram, why do I think it's good for me?
My husband is happier.
He knows it brings me pleasure to keep memories of our family through blogging and Instagram, and he's fine with it, but he really detests watching me mindlessly scroll through my phone. I try to do it once I'm away from the kids, so as not to take my attention away from them, which usually means I'm taking time away from him. In the car, at night, etc. I can get lost in all the photos and easily waste so much time. My husband is "off the grid" himself, so when I'm off Instagram, we have a lot more time for each other and our kids. We are both so much more cautious about being on our phones at all, and have grown so sensitive to seeing others on theirs all the time. On dates! At a kid's event! With their children trying to get their attention! Driving! It's like, what is so interesting in their make believe world?
It makes me happier.
When I'm off social media, I don't compare. I don't covet. I don't feel bad about myself because of what someone else is doing. I'm less judgmental and gossipy because I'm not fueling that fire. It really keeps my eyes on my own paper and that makes me feel satisfied internally. We all know how we feel after 20 minutes of scrolling. Blech, right? And yet we reach for our phone 20 minutes later to see what's new again. It's an addiction for sure. Did you know that rates of anxiety and depression have risen with our social media technology use? When are we going to learn?
So those are my thoughts on my Instagram fast. I seriously see all these great reasons to stay off for EVER, and yet, as any addict, I will probably fall into old (bad) habits again one day. But maybe, just maybe, with God's grace, I can gain strength during this season and learn how to use social media wisely in a balanced healthy way. Or just be done with it once and for all.