by Kate Allwein
My journey away from social media began in 2022 when a “mom friend” asked if I would join a group called FIAT, a 90 day program for women that consisted of fasting, prayer, Scripture reading, increased reception of the Sacraments, and an all-around deeper dive into virtuous living. I began this program as a new year’s resolution to serve as a means to increase my prayer life and detach myself from the things of this world so that I could create more space for the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. This journey has been a whole health experience for me as I have come into deeper awareness in believing in the truths of Jesus Christ over the lies of Satan through it.
At first, I didn’t choose to give up social media because I didn’t think I had a problem with it. I wasn’t “addicted” or was I? According to Webster dictionary “Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder characterized by a persistent and intense urge to engage in certain behaviors, one of which is the usage of a drug, despite substantial harm and other negative consequences.” After contemplating this more, I realized I had the urge to get on social media and spend waking hours scrolling instead of spending time with the people I love, including the Lord.
The Reality of Presence
When I came to this realization, I would like to say the first thing I did was turn to prayer but in reality it was not. I realized that social media had created a problem in my life by filling my desires for both making new friendships and investing in my existing ones. I would get bored or lonely and search on Facebook and then feel like I got an update on people’s lives. The funny thing is I rarely ever spoke or interacted with most of those people on my Facebook feed. I made it a commitment to reach out to women as often as I could and began intentional conversations. I began running with some ladies in my neighborhood and felt uplifted by their conversation and companionship. I joined a small group and kept inviting new women to join. Through our intentional conversations and intercessory prayer I noticed that this was what my heart was yearning for. These relationships brought fulfillment in my life because this is true Christian community which supported Catholic whole health living– spirit, mind, and body! People coming together to pray and encouraging each other, one person at a time. Even the most awe-inspiring social media post doesn’t have that power to be Jesus for another. As human individuals we know the difference between a physical hug of encouragement/friendship versus a simple like on a post. I believe that this ability to give up something and truly OPEN myself to receive the love that Jesus had for me through others has been very healing. This experience began my journey to a more intentional relationship with others and the Lord.
Too Much Information
The second problem that social media presented for me was that it also served as a source of two kinds of “news” updates for me. I felt lost when I got off social media because I no longer knew the most recent updates in my community about who was having a baby, who was suffering or just what they did last weekend. At first, I felt like I was missing out on this knowledge. How can I truly live in this world and not know these crucial things? I think my vainglory and fear of losing a status in the social media world was under attack. Over the past year I have felt lighter and more at peace with knowing less. It has allowed me to KNOW MORE about my own children, my husband, my family and provided more peace to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Since giving up social media, I find myself with a greater call to intentionality in my relationships with those closest to my heart and find myself praying for them more. I rely on the Holy Spirit to inform me of the people who need my love and support rather than my Facebook feed.
Other news updates I no longer received were the nation and world current events. I don’t know as much information or what people think about the news as I did before. This was a bit unsettling to me because I felt like it was my duty to be informed. I would click on my phone many times throughout my day to follow something my city, state, nation or world was following. I would then read everyone’s thoughts and classify people by good or bad based on their opinions of such an event. I felt anger stirring up inside of me and saw the effects of this deadly sin turning me on friends.
Living My Vocation in Whole Health
I also knew I had a problem with this when my kids would ask me “mom why are you always on your phone?” I knew that I had to find balance and not feel like I needed to know everything the instant everything was made available to me. I resolved to only check my news sources in the morning(10 mins) and then leave it up to my husband to fill me in on the evening information(if it was necessary for me to know). I don’t seem to have as much worry, fear or anger as I did before when I was on social media regularly. I am thankful for the grace to make this change and have been reaping the benefits of whole health living with less stress, chest pain, headaches, and anxiousness.
At last, I am able to find the purpose of my vocation to love those right in front of me because I am not bogged down with trying to save the world from the crisis of the day or make a post to convince others to believe a certain way on a particular issue. This specific act of not participating in social media has allowed more room for Holy Spirit in my life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit needs space to inspire and if our brains and souls are filled to the brim it will be difficult to have that relationship which we desperately need.
Sometimes we might think that Catholic whole health living is complicated or challenging. It can start with small tangible steps, simple ways to avoid stress and by this simple act of surrendering, I have found peace.