What I’ve Learn from Being Off Social Media for 40 Days

In the beginning of March, I looked at how much time I spent on apps on my phone. In one week, I was on Facebook for 11.9 hours and 3.2 hours on Messenger! Less drastic was an hour on a game. These totals would’ve been more, but the day before I looked, I hadn’t been on my phone much because I was busy. Those numbers, on average, were even worse.

Because of this, I decided that, for Lent, I was going to give up Facebook and phone games. I thought about leaving it there, just doing this for personal reasons. Then I felt God lead me to write down what I’ve experienced, what changes I’ve seen, and what I’ve learned.

So here it is! This is the list of things that I have learned from being off Facebook (and phone games) for 40 days.

  • I depended on my phone to keep me entertained. If I was bored, the first instinct I had was to whip out my phone and find a game or scroll through Facebook. And I couldn’t be bothered to put it down and play with Leah (my niece, who I nanny). Since then, I have found other ways to entertain myself.
  • My mind was clouded. A couple of different points here. One: my mind was clouded by thinking about the latest news and gossip. “I wonder what this person is doing.” “What drama is this person posting about.” “What are they saying about our leaders.” “What’s the latest technology.” “What new diseases are circulating?” “Who’s picking an argument and about what?” Do you see what I’m getting at? Constantly our minds revert to this thinking. Yes, it’s good to stay up to speed on topics that relate to country leadership, bills that are being passed or denied, and issues of safety (wars, terrorists, and disease), but all the rest is gossip. How miserable we make ourselves and others by participating in gossip! Two: my mind was clouded to the point where I often couldn’t think straight and my memory was lacking, to say the least. For example, I would watch a show and have to wait for the next season. When that season started, I’d completely forgotten what had happened, so I was lost and confused. (This is also true for my writing as I, unfortunately, don’t have much time to quietly sit down and write.) I also couldn’t concentrate very long on things that I needed to do.
  • I noticed people more, noticed their habits and their characters. I became more comfortable and was able to easily smile at someone or initiate a conversation. I also noted how out of sync they were with their surroundings. Just like I was, the moment they’re free or have nothing to do (or just want to be lazy), they pull out their phones. They don’t communicate with those around them. How many relationships, how many chances to brighten someone’s day, to make a difference in this world did they miss because they felt it was necessary to play on their phone since they weren’t doing anything else? We claim that Facebook (and other forms of social media) keep us social with others, when, in fact, it makes us antisocial. We’ve settled for a picture on a screen instead of an actual person standing before us.
  • I found time to do things that I’ve wanted to do but hadn’t found the time until now. Scrolling through Facebook or playing games took up about 5 hours of my day every single day. In that time, I’ve been able to read, write, clean, play card games with my mom, scrapbook, create a recipe box, reorganize a room, clean up our large garden areas, and learn to crochet!
  • I’ve learned that social media is good for a few things, like keeping up with friends who don’t live close. In my time off, there have been a few people that mainly come to mind that I’ve been wondering how they’re doing as Facebook is our only way to communicate. Also, it’s a great tool for prayer. If something crazy or scary or even joyful is happening, you can message a group of “prayer warriors” (your Facebook friends) and together you can pray about it. In the same way, you can pray for a friend or let them know that you’ve been thinking of them.
  • But I have also learned that there is more bad than good about social media. Gossip and hatred are in astronomical abundance throughout social media. Literally everyone is trying to pick a fight every day, one way or another. The Bible talks about both of these areas of life in many places:

“We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6-8

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” Proverbs 29:11

“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Proverbs 29:20, 22-23

“It is to oneʼs honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.” Proverbs 18:2, 7

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:1-2, 4

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

“Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. “Beware of your friends; do not trust anyone in your clan. For every one of them is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them.” Jeremiah 9:1-6, 8

  • We let a device control our lives. There’s so much temptation in a phone, and I’m not just talking about sexual temptation.

There’s the temptation to be lazy (sluggard as the Bible says)

“The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.” Proverbs 21:25

To be mean (against your neighbor who is every single person in the world)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12a

To want what others have (jealousy)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

To make this device or social media or etc a god (and God is the only God we should have)

“You shall have no other gods before Me [says the Lord].” Exodus 20:3

To curse (cussing and using God’s holy name in vain)

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” Exodus 20:7

To idolize something or someone (we are not to make idols)

““You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.“” Exodus‬ ‭20:4-5‬

And to gossip (even if you don’t think you do it, trust me, you do).

“We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6-8

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

  • I can spend more time teaching Leah about God and life and helping her to grow and learn and less time teaching her that technology is okay when it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good in it, but we have not learned to control ourselves so therefore technology is usually bad.
  • I have found more time to spend with God and realized how lacking my relationship was with Him. Over these weeks, He has shown Himself to me time and again and I have seen my heart change. It’s funny how you think a relationship is good and can’t be better until it actually becomes better.
  • I realized (with the help of some good friends) that, when being on Facebook or playing those games, I wasn’t doing what the Bible says to build God’s house. I was building my own house. Building our house means doing our own thing that doesn’t benefit God. But building God’s house is walking with Him, bringing others to Him, and serving Him in everything we do. No, we can’t do this all the time, but we can’t not do it at all! Everyone needs to relax a bit from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we put our house before God’s.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Haggai 1:2-11

When I first decided to do this, I seriously struggled. I couldn’t wait for the 40 days to be over so I could get back on! But after the first week and seeing all the changes that were happening in my heart, I actually started to dread when the 40 days were going to end. I don’t want this peace and change in my heart to be disrupted.

I’m so joyous that God put on my heart to do this. And I’m undertaking the next task of personally mastering my time spent on Facebook. You won’t see me on much, but I’ll be there from time to time, sharing what God is doing in my life and encouraging others.

What about you? Do you find yourself in the same place I was, focused on my screen more than the world right around me? Maybe you feel God convicting you. Don’t hesitate! He really does know best. So if you feel God telling you to do (or give up) something, jump in! We can’t possibly grow spiritually until we listen to God, especially when He tells us to do things that are difficult (just like giving up Facebook for more than a month).

This life is not about us. It’s about God and us serving Him in everything we do.

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