In the women’s session of the October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson challenged the women of the Church to participate in a 10-day social media fast from any media that “bring[s] negative and impure thoughts to your mind.”
At first, my reaction was:
Another one?! But when a prophet of God issues a challenge, you do it. Joseph Smith once said, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”
As someone who participated in the 7-day social media fast for youth (no, I am not a youth anymore, I just have a persuasive younger sister) I felt like I was gonna crush this 10-day fast. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
It is amazing how we come to rely on social media. I think I made it to around day three before I broke down and purchased a book to fill the time. Because I had SO. MUCH. TIME. And I may or may not have finished that book within a day…whoops.
I think subconsciously we recognize that we are wasting time on social media, but to a certain extent, we really don’t care. It is so easy to get on our various social media apps and just scroll…and scroll…and scroll…and scroll…and scroll. You get the point.
I remember one of my teachers once citing a study where researchers learned that if you have your phone in your proximity while you study, it is harder for you to focus. Knowing that you can’t use social media provides almost a sense of freedom from the constant pressure to check your phone and find out what others are doing.
While fasting, President Nelson asked us to focus on three questions:
- 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?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is…well, long. Has the 10-day fast purged me of my desire to ever use social media again? Nope. I still want to use social media. In fact, I remember a family member once mentioning that in our day and age it is almost impossible to not use social media (I use Facebook to keep up with mission friends, I use it to find out what I’m doing for FHE and other ward activities, I use it for Networking, etc.).
However, this social media fast has increased my desire to set goals to limit my social media usage. When all is said and done, at the end of our lives, Heavenly Father will not look at how many likes or retweets we get. Elder Holland once stated:
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.
I want to make sure that God knows where my loyalties lie. I don’t ever want social media to come before God and my family. Whether this social media fast affected you in a large or small way, I hope that we can all make a renewed effort to put God first in our lives.