We live in a time where instant news and constant updates consume our lives. We need to know things as they happen, read about people’s opinions on current trends, and write our own two cents about them online too. So when a fellow Living Maronite team member suggested going offline for Lent, it gave me the push I needed as I was thinking about it but didn’t think I would be able to do it.
Lent is a time for not only a sacrifice but a time to redirect our daily routine and make it better for our spiritual and physical health. Its very common to give up chocolate or soft drink however it is good to challenge yourself at times.
When I mentioned it to my co-workers they were in disbelief, confused as to how they will contact me (because our favourite form of contact is Snapchat of course). The first few days were a big change. My phone was silent, I found myself picking up my phone for no reason at all and staring at nothing, or opening emails and waiting for some form of contact. Going offline freed up a lot of time, I had more time to pray, garden, and read. Giving up social media didn’t only mean I had a lot of spare time on my hands, it also meant I wasn’t a slave to my phone anymore. I realised that we waste so much time online, mindlessly flicking through our newsfeed to pass time.
Social media robs us of our time and also of real experiences, not only real conversations with people but also the ability to experience adventure without documenting it on Instagram or snap chat. I realised that every time I went on a walk, finished a 1000-piece puzzle, cooked an exciting dinner or when I finished creating a beautiful pot plant for Easter, I had an urge to post it somewhere. While I couldn’t share it online, I realised I was experiencing it more and enjoying the experience. It then occurred to me that we seek the validation of others, I was craving likes.
Attending Ed Sheehan’s concert with no social media was a whole new experience to me. I wasn’t able to document the funny experiences my friends and I had travelling there. During the concert I noticed my phone battery wasn’t struggling by the end of the night, and I really enjoyed seeing it all with my own eyes and not watching it through my screen, making sure I’m getting the best picture for people on Snapchat who were going to skip through it anyway. I also couldn’t help but notice a young girl sitting in front of me, who was snap chatting the entire performance, not really enjoying herself and I thought that’s how I would have been if it wasn’t for my social media ban. I began to appreciate it more, as I was able to enjoy myself, and I didn’t need to show anyone ‘how awesome my Saturday night was spent’.
Giving up social media meant that I wasn’t aware of people’s rants online and that may have been the best part of it all. During catch up dinners, my friends would inform me of the latest Facebook incident and I would be glad I missed all the fuss. Sometimes Facebook and other social media outlets are a platform for keyboard warriors who only seek to make other people miserable. During Lent I was happy to have kept my peace and focused on my relationship with God, rather than being worked up over other people’s opinions and sometimes rude comments.
This Lent has been a blessing, it has opened my eyes to the evils of the online world. I will be signing in come Easter Sunday but my social media ban during Lent has allowed to remember that I need to step back at times, put my phone away and pick up a book or experience nature without an iPhone screen to document everything.