I was raised Catholic, so Lent, the time between Ash Wednesday (or, the day after Mardi Gras for you partiers) and Easter Sunday is a time reserved for self-sacrifice. People give things up for Lent; candy, soda, sweets, etc. I have always preferred to DO something for others instead.
I’ve noticed a trend in recent years of people swearing off social media for Lent, particularly Facebook. It’s interesting that people feel that they have enough of a problem (is it an addiction?) that it’s a real sacrifice to disconnect from others.
That’s the part I don’t get, though. How is giving up engaging with friends and family online a good thing? Does it benefit others somehow? Maybe if you’re a mean troll and you give up doling out bad reviews or leaving nasty comments on blogs. THAT Lenten sacrifice I could get behind.
If you have given up social media for Lent, here are three reasons to consider DOING something instead, or just laying off the doughnuts for the season.
- You may miss the opportunity to be a positive influence on someone. I will always deeply appreciate the people who have reached out to me online, especially the total strangers, with words of support or encouragement.
- Denying others your presence is really selfish. If you want to be part of your social circle, disappearing is similar to refusing to take phone calls, or not leaving your house. You’re a valuable part of your social network. Be present.
- You may be the ONE PERSON who has the answer, the resource, the connection, the needed information to help someone figure out a problem, hire a solution, get a job or solve for X. Similarly, those answers for YOUR life are out there; why would you want to deny yourself access to them?
Instead of “giving up,” how about setting aside time for intentional use, engaged listening and sharing. Limit yourself to an hour a day, instead of many minutes spread throughout the day. We’ve learned recently that mobile users can’t leave their phones alone for more than six minutes, and are checking in online more than 150 times a day. If that’s you, then commit to structured time, rather than giving it up altogether.