How can a social media quick be a blessing?

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Over-reliance on social media is as old as the medium itself. Engagement with this medium has increased due to the pandemic that has forced people to social distancing, but the real challenges of navigating this online world safely and responsibly have been in the past Year not invented.

Mental health experts and pastors warn of the dangers of overconsumption. "It is the unintended, unplanned, and often unknown, side effects that have the greatest potential to turn a helpful thing into a harmful thing."

What's too much social media?

It can be argued that Facebook, Zoom and Instagram saved many people from total isolation. Still, one consumes social media and the use of consumables can get out of hand, whether it's sugar, alcohol or the internet.

How does a person know they need to take a break? Maybe if you only communicate via Instagram, Facebook Messenger, etc.

Instead of talking, a person makes announcements. The first thing a person does every day is to check for notifications on social media. These are signs of excessive trust.

Another clue that you should take a break is to have your phone close at hand for instant reading and replying to messages and notifications. One is inattentive at dinner with friends or during reading time with the children because an answer or a "like" might arrive.

If a person gets upset about the lack of “likes”, it is problematic. Meanwhile, other activities have fallen by the wayside, browsing social media websites, creating posts, or reading what others have to say about the world or their personal life. Facebook or Twitter have become the source of all relevant information and truths.

What is a Social Media Fast?

A "fast" is usually the abstention from something like lunch or a specific food or drink. During Lent, many people forego a favorite dessert, alcohol or meat in order to honor God or for religious reasons.

Fasting can also refer to giving up everything you enjoy, especially when it is particularly difficult. It could be a TV show, cigarettes, shopping, or Facebook.

When you fast on social media, you set a length of time that feels like a victim, from a few days to a month.

During this time, you will refrain from viewing all types of social media, posting comments, stories or photos and deactivating notifications.

Usually, it's better to advocate a fast by replacing social media (or lunch or alcohol) with special devotional time, prayers with friends, or a new hobby or exercise.

Many people feel especially motivated when they only share their intent with a few people so that those people can help hold them accountable.

Why quickly from social media?

Kevin DeYoung wrote: “The medium does not encourage slow reflection or drive us to the wisdom of the past. We have to fast from the information festival so that we don't rush to small things. "

If you look at Facebook et al. feels responsible and controlled, then fasting may not be okay. Here are some questions to think about:

1. Does a user reflect before replying or posting? Careless, thoughtless reactions can be hurtful or embarrassing. In addition, on a second reading, the true meaning of an article may look different than it does at first glance.

2. What is the reason to be on social media? At first, many people want to keep in touch with friends and family who live far apart.

Instead, because it is far too easy to sift through comments and pictures from strangers, one inadvertently becomes a voyeur reading and viewing strangers' posts. After all, social media offers a meaningless distraction from everyday life.

3. Does social media allow personal retreat? That way, one can connect with people around the world and never knock on their neighbors' door, pick up a phone, or have a face-to-face conversation.

Ironically, although "connection" is the declared benefit of social media, online friendships are typically superficial and do not require any real responsibility or activity.

Hebrews 10: 24-25 teaches: “Let us consider how we can inspire one another to love and do good works without neglecting to meet, as is the custom of some, but to encourage one another, and so on more as you see that the day is drawing nearer. "

Personal, rich, deep fellowship requires personal interaction and possibly some inconvenience or inconvenience. Email and messaging are often useful tools unless they're used as a buffer to create distance.

4. Is a person's health suffering? Researchers have studied the mental and physical costs of overuse social media.

You have linked frequent use of Facebook to "less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction". (…). This may have to do with the fact that Facebook creates a perception of social isolation in a way that it does not with other individual activities. "

Other studies show the addictive nature of social media use and the indirect problems associated with sedentary leisure activities.

5. Could the Holy Spirit send out red flags? Jesus assured his disciples that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will bring to your memory all that I have told you” (John 14:26).

6. Devotions have fallen away. It is found that a debate on Facebook and the opinions of the participants are more convincing than the Word of God. Bible readings and prayers are short or rare.

The Spiritual Traps of Fasting from Social Media

As with any fast, there is a temptation to proclaim your intention publicly and to celebrate self-righteously as a personal victory outside of social media each day for no other reason than being able to say, "I did it" or "I have." done it better than you. ”

Jesus admonished his disciples: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they distort their faces so that others can see their fasting. Verily, I tell you, they have received their wages ”(Matthew 6:16).

The reasons for fasting, says David Mathis, are this repentance, grief or supplication.

Buses: This is the type most people associate with biblical fasting. "God's people recognize their sin – usually no small indiscretions or misjudgments, but deep and persistent rebellion – and seek their forgiveness."

In this case, one sees the harm caused by excessive use of social media and wants to turn away from sin.

Grief: "On many occasions (fasting) gives voice to grief, grief or complaint about difficult providence." Fasting or taking a break from food, technology, alcohol, etc. gives "a voice to pain and sadness" and reflects "a heart of faith in God amid great tragedies".

You're welcome: A third reason people fasted in the Old Testament was when they "asked for God's guidance or future favor". Believers emphasized the importance of longing for healing, justice, reconciliation, and so on.

All of these types of fast point "Godward," says Mathis. In other words, you don't want to gain sympathy or recognition or manipulate people. One does not try to extort a "yes" from God in response to prayers.

If you give up something for Lent or during a time of repentance / grief / need, this is a reflection of the open hand, the open heart. You release the power of a substance or activity and ask God to replace it with more of yourself.

How is social media fasting a blessing?

In a strictly spiritual sense, the blessing comes as soon as one is humble before the Lord, emptied of any personal desire, ready to receive God's direction, malleable to the sanctifying exertions of the spirit.

When someone is obedient and repentant, or grateful and full of praise for the Lord, they feel especially close. This is the ultimate blessing that Jesus refers to in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5.

We are blessed when we are poor, when we mourn, because in these times we will experience more of God and His comfort.

But there are also temporal advantages that even worldly people can see and experience. For example, DeYoung said that the web "is less fascinating when I'm not there". His strength is decreasing.

The longing to read these articles and have online conversations is decreasing. In his experience, this leads to less random use of the Internet with no particular direction or purpose. We waste less time.

The deductible decreases. DeYoung adds, "It's good to remember that the world is fine without us." When you waste less time online, you have more opportunities to exercise, read, cook, and enjoy rewarding hobbies.

You no longer say "I wish I had time to paint" and actually take your brush. The view of the world is expanded as it is no longer filtered based on the opinions, priorities and preferences of everyone's posts displayed in a feed.

One reads the news with greater objectivity. DeYoung emphasizes: “Social media (…) gives us the illusion of being current, current and relevant. And it's a shame for us if we don't know about this week's newest meme and viral video. "But these memes and videos are shallow distractions from real life.

The blessing of revelation

If trying to take a break results in withdrawal (distraction, depression, irritability, headache, nausea), it is a sign of addiction.

Pray about fasting on social media, but be aware that God's answers will "lead to deep soul rings and reveal sins, doubts and fears."

The pain of revelation may not sound like a blessing, but God is serious about the commandment not to have idols. Social media addiction steals his fame and our peace. it is destructive on many levels.

Visit a counselor or seek support from godly and discerning friends. Allow the Lord to do sanctifying, healing, and liberating work.

For further reading:

Why is prayer important for fasting? 5 prayers of fasting to aid your fast

Fasting for Lent: Fasting Guide for Lent

What does Lent mean? – Biblical meaning and purpose

Wondering what to give up for Lent? Try these 30 popular ideas

What is the church now?

Is the Future of the Church Online?

What are the benefits of prayer?

Photo credit: © iStock / Getty Images Plus / Urupong

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. You can find out more about them here.

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