When Russell M. Nelson urged the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take a 10-day fast from social media, I gladly accepted the invitation. Although I had actually been revving up my use of social media in the preceding days, and felt like I was getting into more of a groove with my blogging and online presence, I also recognized the value in what President Nelson was suggesting. He said:
The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression.I knew immediately that I needed time away from distractions. A smartphone, computer, and even my Fitbit constantly turned my attention away from what was happening right in front of me. Little minutes here and there added up to big chunks of time spent frivolously. I determined to break free of the addictive nature of my devices, and I put them aside (for the most part) for ten days. (I did spend some time doing family history research one day, I checked email a couple of times, and visited messenger to retrieve an address.)
Without the screen constantly beckoning, how did I spend my time? Well, we now have two cars parked in the garage. The basement is also organized. I attended the temple. I am well into a major sewing project. I visited a neighbor in her home, another neighbor dropped by to see me, and John and I went to see friends we hadn't seen in 20 years! One car got tires, another got brakes. I got a haircut, and Drexel went to the groomer. I spent some time with youngest daughter. John and I went to a movie, and out to eat. I started reading one book, and started re-reading another. In short, projects big and small got accomplished, and I had plenty of time for fun, too.
Today, my Fitbit is back on my wrist. My smartphone sits beside me as I compose this post. However, I still have most notifications turned off. I responded to friends' posts on my Facebook timeline, replied to comments on past blog posts, and commented on posts that had linked up to last week's Ten Things of Thankful blog hop.
I still have tasks online that need to be done, but I feel the pull of real life. It felt great to take a break from my devices. What I hope to take away from this 10-day fast is the ability to build into my day large chunks of time that are distraction-free. While I might still be online each day, I plan to limit the time I spend there. I will dedicate time for online tasks, and get done what I can in that time, rather than think, "I need to get x, y, and z done," and then continue pursuing those tasks until completed, no matter how long they take. For me, that seems a better balance.
I'm thankful for a break, and the insights I gained.
Have you taken a break from social media before? What did you learn?