My Lenten Journey of giving up social media

My Lenten Journey of giving up social media

Author Erica Estrada                                          

Take a look around campus next time you walk from one building to another. I would roughly say around half of the students walking are on their phones. It’s okay, I’m guilty of this too sometimes!
I wanted to take a step back and remember how it was like before social media by giving it up for Lent.

Texas Wesleyan is a Methodist University. The Methodist Church recognizes the Season of Lent. Lent is a 40-day period of fasting. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The purpose of this season is in commemoration of the forty days in the Gospel when Jesus spent forty days of fasting in the desert and resisted temptation from the devil.
As a Catholic, I also recognize Lent, and like many other Catholics, I practice it by giving up something.
This year for Lent, I gave up social media. Many people I know were surprised that I gave up such a popular thing since nowadays our generation is very technology-driven. Many of my friends and family would say, “I could never do that.” I thought the same thing until I gave a commitment based on the changes I wanted to accomplish.
Along the way, I noticed a lot of positive changes from giving up social media.
Part of my inspiration was from my cousin Elisa and a friend from high school, Jasmine, that gave up Facebook for Lent. Also, seeing a Ted Talk Youtube video called “A year offline, what I have learned” by Paul Miller, gave me a similar idea of how I can focus more on myself. From this, I learned several things:
  1. My productivity increased.
Due to partial boredom by giving up social media, I started to find time to organize more. I noticed on the first day that the instant I was bored and dawdling, I wanted to log onto on my social media accounts. Instead, I took the time to text my friends or catch up on my studies. The time I usually would be on social media was used to find a better activity to do.
  1. I focused less on unimportant things.
Like “What color is that dress?!” and other people’s drama. You probably chuckled because it’s true, and it’s a bit ridiculous that something so little such as a dress caught most of our attention.  I was informed about #thedress from my mom that showed me a meme, and I responded, “What is that about?” and she remembered I was off Facebook and explained what it was. Also, one thing I fortunately missed out on was drama. Some people use social media as their online diary, when the best intention is to share important updates and life events. Yes, people read about drama and probably judge and talk about those who spill the beans.
  1. I was more focused on myself.
Again, the time spent on social media was used toward the things I “thought” I didn’t have time for. I kept myself occupied by playing the piano, painting, drawing, and spending a little more time outdoors. I found different ways to express myself like I used to when I was younger.
  1. Ironically, I became a bit more social.
Instead of liking a status or commenting on one, I took the extra step of calling up my friends or family members to catch up with them. Usually, you are most likely to make a memory by hanging out than liking or commenting on a status or picture.
  1. Most important, I grew stronger in my faith.
Nobody’s perfect. We all have our flaws, but I think as long as we try our best, that’s what matters because we are all human. For us Christians, we believe that is why this season is a reminder of Jesus’s love by dying on the cross for our sins and for us to ask for forgiveness and then learn from our mistakes. I also went to church every Sunday to guide me through Lent. When it was Easter, I had a feeling of accomplishment.
I think the two things I missed about social media was looking at more updates from my other side of my family that lives out of town and posting photos on Instagram to express myself since I like photography. After Lent, I think I will still probably not get on social media as much in order to focus on my school assignments; I just don’t feel inclined to be on it like I used to. Social media does have some positives by keeping us connected. The usage of it, however, just takes moderation.
Whether you’re a Christian or not, Lent is a great way to practice a positive change and commit to it. Even if you do not have a religion to commit to, I think it’s interesting to learn what others believe in because it helps us grow together.