Friday, January 25, 2019

Offline is The New Luxury: Taking a Social Media Fast


Fasting is becoming very popular once again.   It is not as popular for religious purposes, although it has long been popular for that, but for weight loss and health.  Intermittent fasting is something that you have probably heard of if you are following diet and fitness trends.

Well, there's another kind of fast that's also gaining ground.  That's the technology fast or Technology Shabbat.

According to Wikipedia:
A Technology Shabbat or Tech Shabbat are terms for a rest or cessation from the use of all technology with screens, ie smartphones, computers, tablets and television. The term was first coined in 2010 by filmmaker and internet pioneer Tiffany Shlain and husband UC Berkeley robotics professor Ken Goldberg.
Is fasting from social media a good idea?

This is like asking if it is a good idea to breathe air.  Of course!  I shudder to think that, at one time, I was plugged into (a)social media seven days a week.  Taking in the arguments, the negativity, the politics, the bragging, the drama, the mindlessness of it all, day after day without a break.  I can't even imagine what that does to a person's mind.  One day away from that, once a week, almost does not feel like enough, does it?

Religiously, I am used to the idea of taking a "Sabbath."  In fact, I think that it's extremely important to take time away from work and the cares of the world and focus on more "heavenly" thoughts.  However, I have, at times, spent valuable Sabbath time on (a)social media, to later feel like garbage afterward.  Is this a proper use of the Biblical Sabbath?  Perhaps that is a more personal decision.  Yet, I would say, being on (a)social media seven days a week is not the proper use of your mind.

Fasting from (a)social media is a great way to see how nice it can be to unplug.  Like fasting from food, fasting from social media will likely leave you "hungry."  At least at first.  Yet, the more time you take away from this high calorie, low nutrient substance, you will start to feel amazing.  In the end, fasting from (a)social media will fill you up in ways you probably have never imagined.  Fasting from (a)social media is like fasting from the worst foods you can put in your body.  Facebook and its ilk represent some of the worst internet content you can put into your mind.  Various governing bodies around the world regulate what can be put in food.  Few would argue against, that on its surface at least, it's a good thing.  Yet, there's no regulation of any kind what is put on Facebook.  I don't advocate that there should be.  Freedom of speech, after all, is an amazing right.  Yet, what appears on Facebook is often some of the gravest abuses of freedom of speech known to man.
The apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:8.
I look at the above verse and I ask, "does Facebook reach the standard of this ideal?"  I can not, in any way, with an honest mind or heart say that it does.  Facebook and (a)social media is often the exact opposite of this amazing verse.  There is no way that a person can say that what is seen on Facebook is in line with these things.  Just by being present on Facebook, you are widely opening your mind to the worst of humanity.

At one time, I made a list of reasons why I should stay off of Facebook. They were:
•It’s incredibly political. I don’t want to be on there if all that is talked about is politics.
•It’s all about showing off. Facebook is all about boasting. My life may make other people jealous and I do not desire that.
•It results in time away from God and study of God’s word.
•It results in time away from family.
•It results in more time spent staring at my phone. Since leaving I have been using my phone far less.
•It was often responsible for or a part of online fighting that took place.
•It is like being back where I grew up, something that I have no desire to ever do again.
•I care too much what others think of me on there. I compare myself with others, and there are thoughts of competition and jealousy that are not of God.
•I am on display there and do not wish to be an internet novelty.
•By beholding we become changed.  The change was not good.
•It negatively affects the brain and mind. It puts me into a bad mood at times and makes me think very negatively of others and even the blessings that God has given me/us.
•Many times I am fake or portray others of being fake. I felt that I was forced to be fake there, and not honest. At the extreme, it made me into a liar.
•There is a lot of cussing and negative influences; coarse language.
•There are many anti-God posts.
•It is a “strange culture” that exists nowhere else in the world.
•Those who do not want to be my friends on there still comment on my posts, which I find confusing and oftentimes annoying.
•I am not missing out on anything.
•It is a bad influence for my daughter to see me always on it.

I once saw this quote that said, "offline is the new luxury."  At one time, having internet was a big deal.  I was in high school when my parents got a WebTV for a gift from my grandparents.  I was an instant celebrity for having that thing.  Instead of just existing in the "regular" world, the entire world of the internet was opened up to us.  The internet was not that big yet, and (a)social media had yet to be invented.  Yet, being online at that time was a luxury that a small percentage of the world had yet experienced.  It was great!

Yet, fast forward to the year 2019 and I see the opposite.  Being offline, off your phone, out in the world, in nature, with those around you, that's the new luxury.  Creating, living, just being, that's what being alive is about.  Not everything about being online is bad, and (a)social media has its place in the business realm.  But, investing yourself and your mind into the world of (a)social media constantly, every single day, is not a luxury.  It's madness.  It's a waste.  And in the end, it hurts more than helps.  What we put in our mind becomes a part of how we feel and ultimately who we are.  

Yes, there's something amazing about taking time of (a)social media.  Even if you take a day or two, you will see results and you will start to consider taking a longer sojourn from the highly negative world of social media.  You will see positive changes in your life.  There is no way you can not say more time spent with family, work, school, God, friends, physical and intellectual pursuits and living the life that makes you human is in any way a negative thing.  If you want to feel like a living, breathing, human with a renewed vigor, then take a social media fast.  You will never know what you were missing until you give up (a)social media.

Have you ever considered taking a social media fast?  Have you given up Facebook for a day at a time, weekly?  Do you think it would be good for you?  Are you scared you would miss being on Facebook?  Or, are you more afraid that you would become addicted to not being addicted?  Imagine the wonderful things that await you when you unplug from (a)social media and plug into the world that is around you.  There's a reason people have fasted and taken Sabbaths throughout the ages of human existence.  Try it with your phone and social media accounts.  You will be surprised!

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