What I Learnt When I Fasted From Social Media

During the period of Lent, I chose to fast from Social Media, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Lent is a 40 day period before Good Friday. Why did I choose Social Media instead of food? My fast needed to be from something I usually do everyday. In my case, reading my social media feed became more frequent than reading my Bible. That’s a problem. So I removed both apps from my all my electronic devices and refrained from logging in on my computer.

What have I learnt through this 40 day period?

1. Fasting is not just giving up something.

If I just skip my lunch, that’s not fasting. If I just stop checking social media, that’s not fasting. We need to give up some activity and replace it with God. For example, if I fast from checking Facebook, I have to replace the time with Bible reading and prayer. If I fast from lunch, I should be spending my lunch time praying. This period should be one that causes us to draw closer to God.

I must admit that I didn’t have a proper game plan for my fast. Instead, fasting from Social Media created a vacuum. I had more time on my hands and itched to find something to replace it. Instead of praying more, I became hooked on reading Manga and watching Anime! That is not what I expected.

2. Fasting from social media made me feel better.

Shortly after I stopped accessing social media, I gradually lost the urge to check what’s happening in my friend’s lives. I lost the urge to share what’s happening in my life. We all face a general phenomenon called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or being kiasu (Singlish).

Being released from FOMO was so liberating! I increased my face to face conversations instead of digital ones. I realised it doesn’t really matter even I’m not on top of the latest news on food, sports, weddings and babies.

There’s an even better effect – my mood improved.

Previously, seeing my friend’s exotic meals, vacations and dates made me feel terrible. Thoughts would hover in my mind: Why is my friend is so lucky? Why am I so deprived? I’m so jealous!

Without social media, I hardly compare my life with others. I feel no need to share cool stuff in my life to make others jealous. I’m not anxiously checking the number of Likes on my posts every hour.

Like a good diet detox, social media detox cleansed me from judging the quality of my life based on how others are doing. It’s helpful to detox once in a while.

3. True fasting involves righting wrongs.

Isaiah 58 tells us what true fasting is.

It’s not about giving up food and drinks.

It’s not about putting ashes on our heads.

It’s not about doing more for God in church.

It’s not about going through rituals of penance.

What is true fasting according to God?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

Isaiah 58:6-7

True fasting is about obeying God.

It’s about righting social injustices.

It’s about caring for your maid.

It’s about buying lunch for a migrant worker.

It’s about opening your home for people who need a home.

It’s about donating your excess clothes, bags and books to those who need some.

It’s about caring for your family and relatives who need help.

If we fast without changing our lives, God will not accept our fasting. God will not hear you. He will not be near you. But if we truly fast and repent of our sins, he has promised to guide us, heal us and satisfy us. He will be our delight.

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