By Jackson Stoever
When the Lenten season comes around, it is always a big production at my house on what everyone will give up. My mom and I take it upon ourselves to give up social media. We practice this new life as if our virtual presence didn’t exist. This year, the Lenten season feels exceptionally long as the COVID-19 outbreak has left us isolated within our house, with “virtually” nothing to do around the town. Normally, I would reach out to friends who take to Facebook or Instagram when stuck at home but since I gave that up during Lent I need to find other ways to connect.
Alas, having this free, quality time, not only off social media but also in self-isolation, is a real turning point for me as an individual. Too often, I have found myself digging deep into social media and being almost obsessed with it. I often argue that people need to get off their phones and interact with others in a more direct, human approach, and yet, I miraculously find myself guilty of the exact same thing. During Lent, this “fast” as it is often called, helps shed light on what is truly important in this world. Being away from that constant need for attention via my social media profiles gives me a fresh new perspective on life. This year is no different, even as I am physically isolated from my friends.
I’ve been reminded what truly matters in life and my attention is moved to my family, or how I view myself, personally. Too often have I opened Snapchat, sent snaps and then closed the app, only to immediately reopen the app and think to myself “What is my life right now?” The fact that I let this happen time after time speaks to how addicting social media really is.
Being where I am in life, I feel free from an overwhelming, constant weight and frankly, I may not go back. After Lent ends next Sunday at Easter, I may opt to take a permanent hiatus from social media and all the troubles that go with it. I have found myself feeling free and taking time to appreciate the little things that I would normally not notice. I’ll go out for a walk with my family and my dog and embrace it so much more. I can listen to the returning spring weather and chirp of the birds.
Yes, there is a use for social media and yes, there is something unique about it, but it is oh so limited. Real life is only a figment within social media and people often go there to escape reality. I need to remind myself that these apps for social media are not a different life, but simply tools. These tools help connect people over a long distance and amazingly enough, for the first time in a while, I can imagine that is what they are being used for–to reach out to friends and family impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Looking out for one another, while not physically there to comfort those people can be beyond difficult. When and if I go back to Facebook and social media it will not be to build a different me, not to make others want to be me, but to reach out to those I care about whom I desperately wish were closer and more accessible. I don’t want to give up that connection.
When Easter comes around, and Lent concludes, I will move on with no social media holding me down. Each second I spend online, I could instead spend time with the people I love and admire.