Did you know that a number of people have chosen to fast from Facebook for Lent? That’s right! They have already gone cold turkey from the world’s largest social network in order to draw closer to God during this period of spiritual preparation for Easter. If you are reading this post on Facebook, I assume you have decided not go that route.
Many have chosen to embark on other types of fasts. In Biblical times, fasting meant subsisting on water alone, or abstaining from rich foods and eating a vegetable only diet, e.g., the Daniel fast (see Daniel 1:8-16).
However, in 2013, we Christians fast, not only from food, but also from television, video games, carbon, electronic devices, media, and social networking – including, of course, Facebook and Twitter.
There is now a vigorous debate going on as to the costs and benefits of going on a social media fast for Lent. While some have chosen to do the social media fast for several days, others have decided to unplug from the social networking grid for the whole 40 days. And many others have refused to fast at all from Facebook, or any other social network, during Lent.
The goal of any Lenten fast (or other Lenten discipline, such as repentance, prayer, study, works of love) is to give up something we’ve become accustomed to, in order to remind ourselves of how we should be dependent on God. “Man does not live by bread alone.” Dueteronomy 8:3.
Believe it or not, some spend more time in the digital world than in the real world! Man does not live by Facebook alone, either. So, here are some of the pros and cons of going on a social networking fast for Lent.
Benefits of unplugging from the social networking grid:
- You’re not being constantly distracted from focusing on God by a steady barrage of status updates, tweets, likes, RT’s, DM’s, etc.
- You can get outside more – breathe fresh air and sunshine.
- Pace of life slows down – you don’t feel so hurried or rushed all the time. Enables you to better focus on Jesus and his meaning in your life.
- Reclaim valuable time from continual social networking.
- Sharing everything is not always such a good thing.
- Decreases tendencies to narcissism and selfishness.
- Reconnect face-to-face with family, friends, loved-ones, and neighbors.
- More time available for prayer.
- More quiet time to meditate on the Word of God.
- Beneficial to one’s spiritual and relational health.
- More time to appreciate the hope of God whose “steadfast love endures forever”!
Disadvantages of going on a social media fast:
- Social media helps you to see and appreciate the hand of God at work in the world.
- FB helps to deepen community by connecting you to those you care about, as well as others around the globe.
- Social media helps you to minister, care for, and love your neighbors in a broader spectrum of ways.
- Social media is not a distraction from God, but rather reminds you of how truly awesome He is, giving you new reasons to appreciate Him even more.
- Helps one to grow and develop spiritually, personally and professionally.
- Social media helps to enrich one’s life through exposure to new knowledge, ideas, and friendships.
- Social media provides more opportunities to share the Gospel, as well as, serve and minister to others, both locally and globally.
While the debate continues, the important thing to remember during Lent is to stay plugged in to God, drawing closer to Him, and seeking to deepen an understanding of His purposes in our lives. This can be done whether we’re on Facebook or totally unplugged from the social networking grid!
The following are some reflections on this debate:
Why I’m Fasting From Facebook This Lent – Becky Garrison
Why I’m Not Giving Up Facebook For Lent – Christ and Pop Culture
Four Lessons From My Lenten Social Media Fast – Robert Talbert
Until next time, remember, you can do all things through Christ Jesus!