Okay, so today I’m sharing with you my authentic experience of reducing social media for 30 days. This is not a “magical pill” kind of post: I did this and magically everything went well in my life. No, I still experienced problems (just like everyone else since the fall) and I still experienced pressures, bad days and tiredness.
Yet, I also experienced significant benefits, and it is those that I will share with you today. Not because I think social media is evil in itself, but because I think it’s designed a certain way. And although it can be used redemptively, we need to be aware of the dangers, so that we can reap its benefits while not being affected negatively by its setbacks.
Why I started a Social Media fast
So I started the social media fast for three different reasons.
The first was that because I desired to grow my Instagram page, I started listening to Instagram growth hacks, one of which included “creating reels to increase visibility”.
But when I did that some of the reels I created were not aligned to my core values, as I was focusing more on visibility.
God convicted me about these, and deep down I felt Him challenge me to take a break from reels for a season, which I did.
The second reason that propelled to do the Social Media fast was that when my kids were home from school, I found myself getting extremely distracted with both Instagram and messaging platforms like WhatsApp.
My kids got frustrated when my eyes were glued to my phone, and even my homemaking suffered because I wasn’t always able to focus on what was before me.
It’s no wonder, considering what Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, said about how social networks are designed:
“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”
“That means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.
“And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you… more likes and comments.”
Social Media was designed to be addictive because its creators are business people. They get money from adverts. And so they need people’s focus on the platforms.
No wonder, I was getting so distracted on it!
And then the third reason that led me to do the 30-day social media break was that on the day I felt God challenge me about the reels, I listened to one of my favourite podcasts—Risen Motherhood—and the topic was social media, and its dangers.
In fact, Emily and Laura, the hosts, challenged the Risen Motherhood community to go on a Social Media break, as they too were doing.
I knew right then that this was God speaking to me. And so I did it. I took Instagram off my phone, I stopped checking Facebook, and I even reduced Whatsapp for 30 days.
Here’s what I noticed.
The 5 Benefits I noticed from the 30-Day Social Media Fast
1. Increased concentration and brain power
I noticed this almost straight away. When I stopped using social media, I was more able to write blog posts and book content without getting distracted. It wasn’t simply that I didn’t have Instagram distracting me; it was that my brain actually worked better when I was off it completely!
2. Ability to live in the moment
I was able to cook dinner without getting distracted with posting stories, liking comments or creating reels. I was able to sit down and pay attention to my kids. I was able to play. And enjoy nature without thinking about sharing a photo on my social media.
This is one of the least talked about aspects of social media, but that I think we need to talk about more. As Christian mommas, it’s a blessing to have time with our kids, so let’s give them the gift of living with them in the moment, instead of getting distracted with things that only take us away from them.
3. Understanding what loads to carry
We live in a time when we have access to news, information and current events at the click of a button. Yes, it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the world.
However, one downside of social media is that things that are happening elsewhere can seem so real, close and relevant that we take them on as loads of our own, instead of focusing on taking responsibility for our own backyard.
What I mean is that it’s very easy to get caught up in the problems around the world and let those pull our hearts and our focus when God does not call us to fix the entire world. He has given us very specific responsibilities: our children, our husbands, our work, our church responsibilities.
Should we help poor people in other countries? Yes. Can we send help to a country at war? Yes. But should we care so much about them that we neglect our own responsibilities? No.
So taking a break from social media helped me not only focus more on what was before me, but also understand that I was to carry my own load, not the burdens of the world. (Galatians 6:5)
4. Focused time with God
Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
When I did my social media fast, I also spent more time in prayer. By taking away the distraction of creating, sharing and consuming fast content, I was able to focus more on praying and reading the Bible.
I also gained more clarity, direction, and vision in terms of this blog, and my content.
5. Time to Work on Other Projects
Let’s face it, Social Media is a time-suck. Even if we only want to use it for a couple of minutes a day, it’s hard to put that limit in place because social media begets social media.
If we post something, we go on to check likes and comments. If we share a story, we go to check views. If we send a message to a group, we go to check replies.
Social media has benefits and setbacks.
One of the main setbacks is that social media was designed to addict people, which means it can distract us from our relationships (the actual people we see face to face) and take our focus away from what God calls us to do.
Because of its addictiveness, social media is also very time-consuming, and it’s fast and visually-appealing content causes lack of concentration and impatience.
Therefore, when using social media, we need to be careful not to let it dominate our lives or take our focus away from God and the life He has given us.
For me personally, I did go back on to social media after the 30-day fast, because I still saw the benefits of using it. However, I also set firm boundaries in place (like not posting when my kids are at home) and I reduced the amount I go on there, so that I can focus on other things. 🙂