I have been off Facebook and Twitter for thirty-seven hours and I am doing okay. In the first few hours I noticed my tendency to grab my phone to open the apps. But once I realized I could not look at them, the interest began to fade.By evening’s end, I didn’t even look at the phone or open my laptop to the sites. Imagine that? I survived.
Two thoughts have sprung to mind in the early hours of this social media fast. First, I realized my phone really could just be a phone—the talking, texting kind. For any of you bothering to read this post, I have teenagers and they don’t communicate by talking on the phone.This morning when the thought hit me I remember chuckling. Of course, it is a phone but that was the point Apple wanted to make. We carry phones with us every where why not the data that connects us to all that information too. It is trap I use to warn my students about when they told me smartphones were a necessity. Ten years later, I believed it too.
The second thought was a little more a reflection on Lent itself. The act of sacrifice the season calls for came from the forty-day period when converts in the early church prepared for baptism. Death, especially one sanctioned by the State, was a possibility. My sacrifice of giving up something I do not need appears misplaced in that light. Two days ago, I joked about people I knew who gave up chocolate for Lent. In the end, maybe my choice is no different. Except on my daily walk, it occurred to me that I am not sacrificing social media as much as I am reclaiming the part of my life that the consumer in me believed I needed. In some ways, I am reminded every time I think about checking one of the apps I can talk to my family, got for a walk or run, think about my teaching, grade my students assignments, and write.
It is not an official discipline of the church but I am working on the discipline of presence. By focusing energy in places that help me to be productive and contemplative, I have a stronger sense of God’s presence in the created order. I’m sure I will eventually go back to checking the apps but my hope is that I will learn to resist the life-draining need to scroll through everything. Thirty-seven hours in and I’m feeling pretty good about that possibility.