A week ago, President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints challenged the youth to go 7 days without social media. I decided to join in because I am an assistant youth advisor in my local Church ward.
Here is what I learned from those 7 days without constant social connection.
5: It was harder than I want to admit it was.
Granted, our lives are generally digital these days, but I’ve only owned a smartphone for five years, and I wish I was disciplined enough to not feel like I was going through withdrawals by avoiding Facebook or Twitter. That should be a warning to me.
4: Most of what I consume on social media is pointless.
We tell ourselves we are staying connected and informed…but about what? And at what price? How often are we really just filling ourselves with negativity and anxiety?
3: My immediate surroundings are more important than a digital environment.
It’s one of those things you know, but don’t realize that you were ignoring it until you actively address it.
2: The sting of a championship loss by your hometown’s first-ever pro sports team doesn’t suck as bad if you don’t wallow in it.
Up yours, Washington Capitals.
Really 2: Most of what I post is only interesting to me.
And I think my tweets and posts are just me assuming that my thoughts and observations are interesting to others. Instead of putting them online, I started writing them down privately. Hey, that used to be called a journal!
1: You do a lot of productive things when you don’t waste time online.
I packed food for work each night. I got out of bed on time. I hit the gym in the morning. And even though my kids ruined my scale with bath water, I can tell I lost a little more weight.
Were those the things President Nelson wanted me to learn with his challenge? Probably not, but I bet he suspected a lot of us would figure it out.
The real takeaway is that social media can be good if you actively make it so…but if you coast, and if you don’t prioritize, it becomes so much idle noise. Noise that distracts me from my commitments to my family and to God.
Even though I wasnt perfect in my fast (I did check it from time to time near the end, though I didn’t post anything), it helped me see what I want to do with it going forward.
If you didn’t participate in it this last week, try it sometime. Go without something that you are hooked on. See how you can better yourself without it.
Then get back to work.