Lent is a season of the Christian church liturgical calendar. While not all churches observe this tradition, or are demanded by Scripture, the basis for observing Lent are rooted in the forty days Jesus spent being tempted by Satan in the desert.
Many people around the globe take the forty days leading up to Easter to reflect, examine, pray, and in many cases, give something up (fast). It has been a powerful spiritual practice for myself, our family, and church community for many years.
So for Lent this year I gave up all social media platforms (ones I use: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram), with a caveat. The caveat being some people still message me on Facebook (Messenger), which I'll answer. And, I send out some content via a social media app for sharing my latest articles and podcast interviews.
But, since February 7, I have done no scrolling, reading, or interacting on any social media channels other than answer some messages on Messenger.
Why did I give up social media for Lent? Prove my deep faith in God? Social media is of the devil? Not exactly.
First, social media used to be a quasi-relational and friendly space to share photos of family and interesting articles and links. Now it's become a cesspool of political and religious craziness. Where any view expressed or comment voiced becomes fuel for debates and arguments often with people you have no relational connection.
Second, I find social media just another form of entertainment for me. It's not essential and vital for healthy relationships and a joyful soul. I find myself scrolling endlessly looking for something interesting, and before long, I've wasted hours of productive time for creating, writing, resting, and interacting with living humans.
I wouldn't call my social media habits excessive compared to some. But I know where my soul can go. The chances of getting obsessed with social media, or anything for that matter, and using it to lose myself, fight boredom, or fill time, is not a path I want to explore.
Life is a gift. It's short. I don't want to waste it walking around the beautiful world God made face planted in a phone missing out on human interaction and sunsets and sunrises.
If I'm not careful, my social media platforms, and phone, will become a gap filler for not interacting with God, others, and our good world. Technology at it's worst is a way to not be present, alert, and awake with God and humans.
Let me be real. I haven't missed anything about social media in the last month or so. I've been more productive. Less angry at the nonsense swirling around on the web. Communication from friends and family have still come my way via other communication mechanisms.
I'm a weak man, fragile, and easily persuaded to chase the next shiny coin.
Social media is not evil. This is not a soapbox preaching against technology. Time will tell of the damage technology will do, or not, to us, and our kid's. But sometimes when your life is noisy, you have to take steps to reduce the clutter.
Will I be gone forever from the social media abyss? Don't know. But after watching this Ted Talk from Cal Newport I'm becoming more convinced social media is a waste of time and not needed for most people.