06: What and Why of Social Media Fasting


Have you ever had a negative thought pop into your head and said, “Whoa! Where’d that come from?” Maybe a thought of comparison or a feeling of inferiority out of nowhere? I’m realizing that despite my contentment and wholeness that I’ve fought to have in my life, sometimes contradictory thoughts arise, and more times than not, the culprit is something I’ve consumed… most often from social media. This is why I’m learning to make social media fasting a habit.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23) 

When we are not intentional about how we consume social media, we open ourselves up to so many things, whether consciously or subconsciously. Sarah Jakes Roberts talked about this on her podcast episode, “Get Your Life Together”, as she discussed the docuseries “Surviving R Kelly” she admonishes listeners to think about what poison have we allowed into our systems and identities by being unaware of what we subconsciously consume, not knowing the spirits and intentions behind what people are putting out in the atmosphere. The Bible refers to satan as “ruler of the power of the air” [airwaves]... and not that ALL social media is bad, because I certainly have accounts for everything, but I think we have to be more discerning about what we choose to expose ourselves too. Everything on social media isn’t for our good, and sometimes, we just need to step away to recenter ourselves.

...I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer was genuine (Psalm 35:13b).
So what exactly is social media fasting?
Fasting, by itself, is the idea of intentionally abstaining from something. Social media fasting, then, is intentionally abstaining from participating in and consuming social media. Social media is highly invasive. It didn’t start out that way, but it has certainly become so.

There is always something to see, and it can create this subconscious habit of always looking at what others are doing or feeling like you have to share everything. While this isn’t the case for everyone, when you don’t safeguard against your social media consumption, it can have detrimental impacts on your mental health and view of yourself.

I’m reminded of Jonathan McReynolds song, “Comparison Kills” from his Make Room album. Read (or listen) to the lyrics and see if any of it pertains to you.

Mmm... mmmmm
I can only speak for my world
Where almost everyone has what they need
Other nations live with sickness
But over here we die from jealously
'Cause it makes you chase what's not meant to be chased
'Cause you've possessed it all along
It comes to steal
And hide what is real
Comparison kills
You spend all night admiring pictures
They make life look perfect as they should
But you don't know the picture's story
And how long it took to make it good
It makes you consider shoes you don't like
But when that shoe doesn't fit
Wear what you will
Despite how they feel
Comparison kills
The grass was fine
Until it looked greener on the other side
Now you're believing that you fell behind
But why try to match what should be one of a kind
You're one of a kind
We all want to be successful
And get mad when God's not in a rush
Waste your time just making copies
You'll see you did not accomplish much
Pressure gets hot
And with heat come mirages
So you think it's cool over there
Your thirst is real
But water can't fill
What comparison kills

The constant comparison that can come from overconsumption of social media is unhealthy. We only post our greatest moments; the highlight reel. So often, we compare our temporal lows in life to an assumption based on someone’s manufactured best moments. You can be a whole person, doing well in life, yet be tricked into thinking you’re not because your timeline tells a different story.

There are 2 occasions when I will fast from social media. 1) Every month, I designate a weekend I call my “Sabbath Weekend”. It’s a weekend where I allow myself to refrain from being social and just stay home to rest, read, study my Bible, catch up on podcasts, relax, etc. I added a mandatory social media fast to help with this rest. 2) Whenever I know there may be days when my timeline will overwhelmingly be about something I’m struggling with or COULD make me struggle… for example, I did a social media fast from NYE into New Years because I figured people would be posting memories of everything they accomplished or engagements or “first year married” photos, and I knew that could plant seeds in my mind that I’m not far enough along. When to social media fast will be different for everyone, but however frequent or long you do it, there will absolutely be benefits.

What are the Benefits?
  1. It can allow you to be more in tune with yourself and give you greater clarity because you’re not being distracted by scrolling or comparing yourself to others.
    1. It also helps shift you away from a self-centered focus that can come from constant posting of selfies and what you’re doing and unintentional validation-seeking that comes when you start to monitor how people respond to what you post.
  2. It helps you realize that some of the things we post so commonly are silly and just oversharing.

  1. It pushes you to engage with the real people around you and be more present.

  1. Improves your mental health because life slows down when you focus on the moments you are currently in instead of the anxiety that can come from looking at what everyone else is doing and being overstimulated by it.

TIP: If you are a blogger, podcaster, musician, etc. who needs social media for marketing, which is real, I suggest an auto-posting app like Buffer. From any device, you can schedule up to 10 posts for free, and if you have a Business profile on IG, it will post them automatically, without you even having to get on social media.

I always come off of a social media fast much more aware of the trap that it can be. When I do go back on it, I feel more refreshed and equipped to handle it responsibly… and I have yet to hear someone who social media fast say they didn’t get a benefit from it. It ABSOLUTELY will leave you feeling lighter and clearer afterwards.

What benefits have you found from social media fasting? Let's continue the conversation on my IG highlights! Click the button RLR to see what others shared about this topic!

Dear God, We love you, and it's hard to focus fully on you when we are distracted by all the things we are consuming. Social media can be a tool for us to accomplish your purpose on the earth, but when used without wisdom, it can be both distraction and destruction. Give us wisdom to be intentional with how use and consume it, God. Give us peace and joy instead of anxiety and angst. Help us live wholly and focused lives for you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.