I gave up social media for Lent
According to Socialnomics, 23 percent of Facebook users check their account five or more times daily. And in a study conducted by IDC for Facebook, 25 percent of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they can't recall the last time their smartphone wasn't next to them.
While chocolate, carbs and coffee are all classic indulgences sacrificed for the almost-two-month Lent period, for Christina and Megan the craving for social media outweighed the one for sweets.
The addiction was becoming more and more evident, so they took the necessary steps to rid themselves of social media for Lent. "I wanted to do something that actually made a difference in my life and those around me," says Christina. "I can easily get bogged down with work and I think the feeling of still being connected to my friends was false."
Even announcing the decision on Facebook garnered interesting responses from "friends." "I got a few comments saying stuff like, 'Aw, I'll miss hearing about your life,'" says Megan. "I thought that was odd since I haven't been posting much at all lately, and those comments were from people I don't even know very well. For me, it reinforced how superficial Facebook 'friendships' can be. I think it actually strengthened my decision to give it up."
Many in today's society base their decisions on how many "likes" a post will get rather than living in the moment of that activity. How many times are you sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends and instead of talking to each other, you're on your phone posting about your dinner? This scenario is played out over and over again and creates an internal need to be attached to our devices rather than those around us.
Sure, the advantages of Skype or AIM — it can be argued — bring people who are thousands of miles apart closer together. But, the day-to-day posting, liking and commenting can interrupt and damage valuable connections as well. Breaking this cycle can be difficult, but rewarding.
The positive aspects of social media — like staying close to those far away — proved to be the most difficult for Megan. "The hardest part was not being able to see what some of my friends were up to," she says. "I have a lot of friends who live abroad, so I can't just call or text them. I really missed being able to message them or even keep up with what they were doing."
Christina missed Pinterest most. "I have a house and really like the planning capabilities that you can do with it." Just like a craving for chocolate, hunger for social media is potent and giving up something that has become part of your daily life is difficult; it's being thrown in your face by those around you.
But after those (sometimes grueling) 40 days finally ended on Easter Sunday, Christina and Megan had a new perspective on their once habitual tendencies. "I learned how much I just don't like social media," says Christina. "Especially things like Facebook and Twitter where people are just obsessed with other people's opinions for no reason. Just go out and live life in reality, not digitally. I actually saw a girl checking Facebook at a funeral. Gross!"
"One thing I quickly realized is that when you do something like this, you realize who your real friends are," says Megan. "My birthday was during Lent, so I wasn't expecting much of anything in terms of birthday wishes. I ended up getting emails from at least five different people wishing me happy birthday. I was so touched!"