There’s still time for a digital fast
We have come to refer to it as FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. And it manifests itself in our lives and the lives of our loved ones in many ways. But perhaps one of the most universal experiences through which we, as human beings, indulge our FOMO is that of our constant connection with digital media.
It is FOMO that keeps us scrolling through social media, looking for what our friends and family have posted or what latest shoes or home organizational items that Facebook wants us to see in the ads that they serve up to us.
Very often, we don’t take much notice of our use of digital media; we hand over hours of our time each day, never questioning ourselves about the negative effects it might have; or the lack of discipline it reflects. It has become part of our daily routine, and we may not be the better for it. There may even be a chance we are slightly addicted to this connection in our lives.
This is an awareness that is not lost on some folks who we will notice have dropped off the radar on social media. Sometimes they will announce their intended departure, and why. At this time of year, there are some who leave as a form of Lenten fasting. We may see them pop up, say goodbye, and think . . . what a great idea. Why don’t I do that?
Enter Sister Nancy Usselmann, who recently wrote a column for OSV News on this very topic. I highly recommend it for your Lenten consideration, especially as we find ourselves halfway through this penitential season and perhaps looking for fresh inspiration.
Sister Nancy writes: “The sometimes unhealthy choices we make with our digital media may increase our anxiety and lead us to isolation – from the people we most care about, but also from God. That’s a good reason for fasting, not from food, but from our screens.”
She offers a list of benefits that we may not have realized can be achieved through fasting. And she offers practical pointers:
Just like fasting from food and drink, media fasts can be done in various ways. They can be intermittent – especially if we need our screens for work or study – and so can be targeted to specific media or apps. Or they can be centered on conscious choices about what we post to (and how often we engage with) social media. Here are some suggestions:
• Turn off your phone from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning. Living without digital interruptions for eight hours straight offers a peaceful evening and a complete night’s rest.
• Limit your entertainment, gaming or viewing to one hour.
• When catching up with friends or family, suggest no phones during your meal. See where the conversation goes!
24 HOUR FASTS
• Do a complete digital fast by turning off your digital devices and storing them away for a 24-hour period.
I encourage you to read more from Sister Nancy, by visiting TrentonMonitor.com/lent-holy-week-easter.
Should you decide to embark on this endeavor, I suggest only that you reserve at least a bit of time to stay in touch with Catholic news on TrentonMonitor.com.
Whether you try this digital fast or stay on the path you set for yourself in the beginning, we offer you all our best wishes for a fruitful second half of Lent. God bless!