Normally when Lent comes around, I realize that it’s coming the week of. Ash Wednesday rolls in and I still don’t have any idea what I want to give up. Inevitably, I decide to give up salt and vinegar chips (my weakness), or chocolate (because it’s easier) because I have no idea and I have to make a decision in .5 seconds.
This year was different though. This year, I knew back in January that I was feeling called to give up social media. But I was terrified. I really didn’t want to.
First, because some part of me was certainly addicted to the scroll. A large part of me, in fact. But second, because I run a blog! Social media is a huge part of getting my face out there and connecting with people. Did God really expect me to just stop putting myself out there on social media?
I didn’t want to give up social media.
I tried to fight off that call I was feeling. At first, I came up with other alternatives that I could give up. But that none of them felt right.
Then, I tried to tell myself that I would just schedule social media posts for the business all the way through Easter before Ash Wednesday came about—that way, I wouldn’t have to get on, but I’d still be getting out there. Technically, I’d still be giving up social media, right?
I just kept feeling that pull to give it up completely. God was calling me to 100% total submission.
This is not something I do well. If you know my story, you know I struggle with perfectionism. Which also means that I majorly struggle with control.
I have been called a control-freak more than once to my face, so I can only imagine how many times it’s been said behind my back. But in every instance, that person would be right. Not that I like to admit that or acknowledge it— my fingers are itching to just backspace this entire paragraph—but it’s true. I have major control-freak tendencies.
But, I knew that I couldn’t ignore this call from God. So, I put up one last post on all of my social media channels on Ash Wednesday. A friend of mine made a beautiful sign for me that said “See you after Easter”, and she took my picture of me holding the sign. That way, anyone who stumbled upon one of my profiles would know that I wasn’t inactive because the blog was dead, but was merely inactive for the season of Lent. Then, I deleted Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone. I logged out on all of our computers so I couldn’t “accidentally” stumble back on.
And I gave God all of the control.
I struggled to give up social media.
For the first few days, I really struggled. Anytime I had a down second, I itched to open up social media and scroll. To see what others had going on in their lives. To check out how many “likes” and comments that I had gotten. I wanted that hit of instant gratification. Then I had a moment where everything changed.
The very first weekend after Ash Wednesday, I spent the weekend babysitting and house sitting. That Saturday, after I put the kids to bed, I sat down on their couch with my Kindle and some work. For a moment, I had that itch to scroll. But I dismissed it and just sat back. I looked across the room at the fire that was going and had this feeling, first, of total isolation.
I was away from my own home, and all of the distractions it holds. My husband wasn’t with me, so I couldn’t use him as a distraction. All of my friends would have been asleep, and I didn’t really have anything to say anyways. I wasn’t interested in TV, nor did I want to deal with trying to figure out how to work it (I’m majorly technologically challenged). It was just me, their dogs, and the few things I’d brought with me.
Then, I felt peace and contentment.
I realized that it was okay to be alone. It wasn’t a big moment, but I’ll never forget it. At the time, I was happy to just feel okay and not feel that itch to scroll. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on that night and that moment. I already knew that I do a poor job of relaxing, and that I do a poor job of just sitting in silence with God. I already knew that I loved to be always doing something.
What I had never realized was how much I used social media as a way to deal with loneliness. I used it as a way to be close with others, without actually having to do any kind of investing. I would scroll and scroll and see what others had going on, without responding, or even liking their posts. I would fill up my need for human “interaction” by hanging out on social media, not even interacting, and then not feel up to actually hanging out and interacting with anyone. Basically, I was being the opposite of intentional.
Just three days.
Here’s the craziest part. If you did the math, you’ll realize that it took me only 3 days to kick that itch for social media. Those first three days felt like weeks, because the itch was constant. But that one moment of peace and clarity truly changed everything for me. Since that moment, I didn’t have any real desire to get on social media and scroll. I still occasionally had the urge to check out someone specific’s profile, or to see where my follower counts were, but the scrolling urge was gone.
The best part? Throughout Lent, I felt way more connected to my friends. I was able to intentionally invest in the relationships that were most important to me through phone calls, text messages, quality time, etc. It forced me to reach out and intentionally find out what was going on in their lives— I could no longer rely on social media to keep me updated.
Without social media, what happened to my business?
It thrived. I realized that I had been spending SO much of my time and energy worrying about social media—what to post, what kinds of strategies to use, what my stats were—when it really didn’t matter.
Sure, social media is a great tool. But I was investing entirely too much time and energy into it. Even though my social media profiles didn’t grow like they would have if I had been on, they also didn’t stagnate. And my blog still got plenty of views, comments, and likes. My email list grew. I really didn’t feel like I was missing much more than the ability to connect on a faster level.
But, I did miss that. I missed putting updates up about my day and behind the scenes. I missed showing y’all what I was working on long before it was officially announced. I missed getting to interact with those of you that I can’t see face to face. So, while I don’t plan on continuing to put in the same amount of time and energy into social media as I used to, I’m not abandoning it completely.
How I plan to be intentional about social media going forward.
When it comes to the blog/my business, social media will not be coming first.
My main focus will be those people on my email list. They’re my inner circle, so to speak, and will be getting the majority of my time and attention. They’re the ones I’ll be sharing my freebies with, announcing secret things to, and sending discount codes.
Social media will be merely a way to connect with other people. It’ll have its time and place, but significantly less focus than it used to get. Not because I don’t like to connect with everyone, but because I just don’t have the time. I have to prioritize, and that means that social media has to get the time it deserves as it falls on my priority list—aka low amounts of time since it’s a low priority.
Practically speaking, I’ll pop in most days (especially on Instagram) but for less than half an hour. I’ll reserve a block of time each day to hop on, connect, and then be done.
I also plan on making more actual connections with others.
Instead of just throwing my own posts up there, I want to be better about responding to others. I’m great about responding when people comment on my stuff, or answering DMs when someone reaches out. But I haven’t historically been awesome at reaching out first.
I want to do more commenting and liking of other people’s posts. Not just scrolling, taking in the information, and moving on like I didn’t even see it.
I’m only downloading one social media app back onto my phone—
Instagram. I want to control the itch to scroll, and hopefully keep it at bay. My hope is that by using Facebook and Twitter solely on my computer, I won’t have as much opportunity to scroll and scroll.
Unfortunately, Instagram just isn’t an app that you can do that with. The desktop version is mediocre at best. So, that will be the one app that I re-download. I will also be putting strict screen time restrictions on my phone for Instagram to deter the restless scroll. This will be the social media I’m most active on, though, so you should go follow me there.
I am so glad that I took the leap of faith and fully submitted to God during the Lenten season. I really did not want to, but I’m glad I gave all control to Him. I learned so much about myself, and about my social media usage during this time. I’m truthfully not even eager to be back on it. I pray that I’ll continue to feel that way, and I look forward to being a lot more intentional about how I use social media.
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