And I’m Back!
…on social media! Did ya miss me? Not really, I’m sure. It’s all good; I get it.
Did I miss you? Yeah. I like checking in with my friends who choose to share tidbits of their lives.
It’s been, what, ten days? Eleven? Truthfully, I wasn’t really counting. Did I get more done? Not really. I’m booked to the edges of my existence anyway. It’s not like I was pining away on the time suck that is Facebook and Instagram or Pinterest.
When the prophet, President Russell M. Nelson asked us to do a 10-day social media fast on Saturday evening, October 6, I had zero issue with it and was prepared to turn it off the very next day.
My immediate response was: Yes, sure.
And then my next response was: I can’t wait to see what happens and learn why God’s asking us to do it.
I’ve learned that the why always comes — sooner or later — when I’m looking for it with humility.
On Fasting from Social Media
When he asked the youth to do have a 7-day social media fast earlier this year, I did it with my young women then, so I knew this was not going to be a big deal for me.
Yet, I heard something behind President Nelson’s words. There is a specific reason he’s asking us women, and not the entire church, to do a social media fast. I’ve been thinking about it the whole time. What is in this for us to learn here?
Here’s my list of what I learned:
1. He didn’t ask us to delete it or remove it entirely from our lives. He’s telling us we need a reset.
He did not tell us that Social Media is evil or that it isn’t good. The prophet, himself (er, his social media team), sent out a message on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on Monday. Laura even followed a link on lds.org on Monday that pulled her into Facebook! That’s the Fast Sunday equivalent of having taken a bite of toast and your spouse walks in the kitchen and informs you what day it is.
Can’t get to that web browser back button fast enough.
But like a monthly 24-hour fast, or a 7th-day Sabbath rest, he’s telling us we need a spiritual reset to individually reprioritize, reassess, and address what we can do better with these tools we call social media.
2. Remove comparisons.
Our tendency as humans is to look at others and only see what we lack or what we have or do better. Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I live in a 2-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with a family of four. My peers in more affordable cities frequently post of their new upgraded houses with their kitchen pantries, kids’ play rooms, back yards, etc. That, and I have dozens of peers posting announcements of the roles they’ve been cast in, pics of their backstage antics. And nearly every time, I wish I was there with them.
There. I said it. I sometimes compare my lack with their abundance. Don’t get me wrong; I am not ungrateful for what I have. My life is full of so many incredible things! And I am absolutely thrilled for every bit of their life progresses! But I am human and can easily see where I lack and how others have that part filled.
Therefore, I have something to learn about remaining connected to these friends without comparing my lack to the lives they choose to portray on Facebook and Instagram.
3. When you return, look for people to help.
This has been a theme in my life in recent years. There’s a blog post coming about “approach to church” with this same thing. So it wasn’t necessarily surprising when the Spirit whispered to me Sunday night:
“When you return, look for people to help.”
I belong to a few Facebook groups of Modern Mothers, Latter-day Saint Mamas, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Gospel / Culture. Many posts are complainy-brag comments of “my life is so hard,” but they’re not open to comment.
So from now on, when I’m there, I’m going to look for ways to lift, inspire, and elevate whomever I come in contact with there.
4. We need each other — especially women.
I read one of the tenderest blog posts on this topic yesterday on what another woman “Learned in the Silence” of the social media fast. I had some similar thoughts.
Some of us women who are trying to follow Jesus also need people to follow us through our little businesses we juggle to make some income while mothering those said children we’re called to nurture. Some of us rely on various forms to support for our income. We need each other to support one another.
The Saints in the early days of the Restoration did it. We have our forms of it today. It’s just a little more electronic, accessible, and, er, global now.
5. Some of us need social media today.
We live in a global society. And I love it. I work with people in Pakistan, India, England, and across the U.S. every day. My income is reliant upon and enabled by these instant, nearly free-of-cost connecting tools. (I use Facebook, Upwork, Skype, LinkedIn, and other project management tools to work with various freelancers across the globe.) Not to mention that I have dozens of friends in New Zealand and Australia whose lives I love to stay connected with, even if it’s just the occasional social media check-in! It’s something!
Look at this post… I’m posting this on Facebook, and when I do so, dozens more read it than if I didn’t post. I know God has been encouraging me for some time to write my insights and post them, and if it touches one woman and gives her a little bit of something to lift her spirit, point her to Christ, help her think differently to assess a problem, every post I have ever written or will ever write will have been worth it.
It’s a Tool; How You Use It Matters
As troublesome as social media can be (and is), it is just a tool. And just like all tools, they can be used for good or for evil. As the snark or other criticism of the weaknesses of the human leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints swirled and spun around social media during the days following General Conference, I couldn’t help but think of the other voices that wouldn’t be there to hear it or offer contradicting opinions.
Maybe it didn’t matter.
But maybe it mattered to one woman somewhere in the world, who didn’t hear the negativity and therefore wasn’t dissuaded, even a little bit, by the negativity. If that’s the case, if it helped one woman across the planet, it was worth it for all.
The Prophet never once said that social media is bad or needs to be removed entirely; he instructed us to try the fast and find out for ourselves how we can better modify our approaches. I did.
What did you learn?