Thursday, February 23 Lenten Calendar* Invite: Fast from social media today. Every time you’re tempted to look at your phone, talk to God.
Our families were traveling up the coast together from California to Oregon. It was 2009 and I owned a hot pink flip phone. My friend was much more technologically advanced than me. She had a smart phone. As we were trying to figure out where to find ourselves a good dinner, she showed me the wonder of the rated restaurant suggestions that appeared on her phone for our area. She advised me that I should get a smart phone for traveling. She also warned me, though, that said device might become addictive. I have never forgotten that little exchange. Those words - it might become addictive - haunt me.
I spend too much time on my phone. I can easily go down a rabbit hole. It goes something like this: I sit down after a long day to watch a sitcom. Shouldn't that one screen be enough? But no, I am a little bored as it is an episode I have previously seen. So I pick up my phone. I remember I should message someone. Then I think, "Maybe I should check Facebook quick." And then there I am, thirty minutes later, two screens, mindless scrolling, and feeling none the better nor none the restful. Have you been there, done that?
Let me note here that I completely get the irony that most people who end up reading this post are going to have gotten here via social media. But perhaps after reading these words and today's invite on the Lenten calendar, you will lay down your phone and close the social media for the rest of day.
Perhaps you could use this day to thoughtfully and prayerfully contemplate your screen time use. Maybe you and your people might want to discuss the Ted Talk from psychologist Adam Alter called "Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy." This talk is something we watched and discussed as a family. It helped us consider what screen use made us happy and what screen use made us unhappy. Jesus invites us into "abundant life," life that feels whole and good and true and right. In Lent, we make more room for this Jesus. How might fasting from social media for a bit make more room for connections to the Living God and for the people and activities that make your soul feel most alive?