I’m coming off two weeks of study leave. What a treat. I spent more time with my family, watched a few football games, wrote several chapters, and made it through most of the Lord of the Rings (the movies).

I also took a break from blogging and tweeting. Now, I have to be honest. I still checked email and tried to take care of the most pressing emails every few days, but it was nice to feel like I could let them sit around. I still checked twitter occasionally and read a few blogs now and then. But my online reading habit was greatly curtailed. More importantly, I didn’t write a single tweet or post an article on my blog for two weeks. I’m not going to lie, it was nice.

Don’t worry. There’s no guilt trip coming for checking Facebook and Twitter or surfing the blogs. The Holy Spirit can convict if necessary. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with social media, and plenty that’s good. At least I hope so (I am coming back to twitter and my blog after all). I won’t even suggest you must take a break from social media for a week or two. Maybe your consumption and production is under control.

But I think you should consider a fast periodically—for a few days, a week, or maybe longer. Here’s how I benefited from being away (more or less) for two weeks.

1. I checked the internet less. I hate to say it, but I find the web less fascinating when I’m not on it! For two weeks I didn’t need to read any blog comments. I didn’t check my “mentions” or my “likes.” And because I wasn’t swimming in the virtual deeps, I wasn’t distracted by what others might be saying about me. All in all, it meant less time roaming around with no particular purpose.

2. I thought about myself less. I wasn’t a “player” in the blog world for two weeks. I wasn’t ruffling anyone’s feathers. I wasn’t hitting anyone’s sweet spot. I just wasn’t around (virtually speaking). Consequently, I didn’t need to think about how I was being received or what response I was getting. I think I’ve grown in this area a lot in the past couple years, but the break was still refreshing.

3. I read more books. True, I didn’t have meetings at night or church pressures on the weekend. That was a big part of it. But without as much time online I found myself with more time to read books after the kids were in bed. As I heard recently, there are two types of people in the world: those who read blogs and those who read books. An exaggeration to be sure, but with a bit of truth.

4. I felt free to keep my opinions unstated. Novel thought I know, but easier said than done for some of us. During my break I saw little skirmishes in the twitterverse or blogosphere come and go. I heard things in the news that I might want to comment on or had thoughts I wanted to share. But for two weeks it was freeing to think, “I won’t weigh in on any of it.” Obviously, I’m blogging again so I think there is value in “weighing in.” But cutting yourself from the urge to endless commentary is extremely healthy.

5. Social media drives us–relentlessly, punishingly, inexorably–to the now. It gives us the illusion of being up to date, current, relevant. And it shames us when we don’t know the newest meme and this week’s viral video. The medium does not encourage slow reflection or push us to the wisdom of the past. We need to fast from the information feast, lest we gorge ourselves on trivialities.

6. It’s good to remember that the world goes on fine without us. Sure, we have people out there that genuinely care for us and (hopefully) benefit from our social media output. But sometimes we act like caged hamsters running in the social media wheel, just hoping we provide enough content and witticism to keep the world going. We’re not that important.

7. Social media takes time. Taking a break gives you more time to do something you’re not currently doing, like watching Lord of the Rings, reading a book, running a 5k, paying attention at the dinner table, or saying your prayers.

8. If you can’t stop, you might be addicted.

It was good to be away. I’m glad to be back. I look forward to being gone and back more regularly.

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Comments:


26 thoughts on “Why You Should Consider a Social Media Fast”

  1. Amy says:

    Good Morning Kevin! Thank you for sharing your perspective on your social media fast. I was just talking with a friend last night confessing that I have noticed social media stirs up feelings of discontent in my heart and the sin of envy is quick to follow. I think it is time for me to fast from social media. Particularly in this advent season as we focus on our longing for the coming of the Messiah. Many blessings to you and your family!

  2. Randy in Tulsa says:

    Speaking of fasting and advent, our family tried fasting from the advent season for the first time two years ago. This will be our third year to do so. Talk about freeing. No processional hanging of the greens at church; no weekly lighting of advent candles; no Christianized “material girl” pressures. Bypassing the big ups (and downs) of the Christian calendar and pursuing the ordinary means of grace daily/weekly has resulted in a much more consistent walk for us.

  3. You broke my heart when you paused to specify it was the MOVIES, not the BOOKS. Why, Kevin, WHY?

    Great article. Something I’ve considered doing myself.

  4. Strong post coming back into it. I’ll have to start thinking about this myself. When I started blogging a few months ago I knew it could be time-consuming, but I didn’t realize quite how bad it could get. I had to lay of during thanksgiving just to wrest my wrists!!

    Well, all that to say, thanks for the piece.

  5. anonymous says:

    well, though, in addition to time alone with the Lord, opportunity daily ‘go to the temple together’ to learn and reason together are a blessing –not a bad option, until that day, when Christ’s body might meet together continuous.

  6. lhw says:

    Kevin, your excellent post recalled his this, that I posted on the blog, Common Grounds, a few years ago. I am posting it here, in spite of its being indulgent to do so, and the risk that the formatting will not work.

    Counterpoint

    The blogosphere, the blogosphere,
    Lets’ hear it for the blogosphere,
    It’ll make you gasp, it’ll make you cheer,
    It’ll make you………………..disappear!

    The above words popped into my brain as I clicked away, weak and weary, once upon a midnight dreary. There is no end….always that highlighted word, calling me to click…

    Comments to the left of you, comments to the right,
    A volley never ceasing carries on by day and night. Click, click away–there’s more to view,
    It may be wrong, but it’s the news.
    Chorus: The blogosphere, the blogosphere,
    Lets’ hear it for the blogosphere,
    It’ll make you gasp, it’ll make you cheer,
    It’ll make you………………..disappear!

    A whirling of words–you’ve got to get in,
    You’ve got to be part of that fast-moving spin,
    Your name is there—Look! comments galore,
    More fame invites; you write still more.
    Chorus: The blogosphere, the blogosphere,
    Lets’ hear it for the blogosphere, etc.

    A global soapbox, heard ‘round the world,
    For all to see, my flag’s unfurled,
    Ubiquitous presence, hasty thoughts expressed!
    Oops! I didn’t mean to say that. I messed…up.

    Interlude:(Mountains, and water, reflections so still.Silence, and beauty: eyes and heart fill.
    Here in the quiet, slowly, I reappear.)

    Now quickly to the blogosphere,
    I have to post, I have to appear,
    I’ve got something to say,
    Today! Right now! Hear, Hear!

    Chorus: The blogosphere, the blogosphere,
    Lets’ hear it for the blogosphere,
    It’ll make you sigh, it’ll make you cheer,
    It’ll make you………………..disappear!

    Francis Bacon said, “Reading maketh a full man, writing an exact man, and conversation a ready man.” He didn’t have blogging in mind, in the 1500’s, but a good quote is timeless. So does reading all these blogs really furnish my mind, and does posting make me more precise? The factor that didn’t enter Bacon’s mind is, I think, the immediacy of the Internet. The last part is true: many readers respond quickly: the readiness is all, to quote Hamlet.

    But I am not so sure about the first part of Bacon’s description: the fullness of mind. An even earlier writer, Plato, complains, “And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them, you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.”

    And what am I doing with all these great quotes, this musing that the more we type and say, perhaps the less substantial we become? Sharing them on a blog site.

  7. Elle says:

    #6 is clutch. It’s exhausting to be witty all the time. Thanks for sharing, Kevin.

  8. Kevin,
    I feel like you read my mind. My wife and I recently saw we were spending a little too much time and both took time off–Not a complete fast, but enough to make it worth it.

    I completely agree with your points and experienced many of the same thoughts.

    It is good that you are back and have been one of the lurkers who has often benefited from your blog thoughts. Thank you.

  9. ummm… Saw this on Facebook today because my son “liked” it. I’ll tell yaa what: I might take the advise from the blog/web poster telling people to take a break from “social media” IF that same person hadn’t admitted to wasting his time and electricity watching godless, Lord’s Day dis-honoring football games. Then he admits to watching the dorky/fantasy/mythical homosexual starring “Lord of the Rings” movies. At least on Facebook I circulate some scripture and/or sermon info each week. S.H.

  10. LG says:

    Shane, that’s some high-quality trollin’ right there! (Also, what exactly is a “mythical homosexual”?)

  11. kyle says:

    3) Reading books is more beneficial for the long run. Blogs keep me up to date with current issues. Books help me log “truth” and blogs assist me in forming opinions. If only there were more time to read both.

  12. To: L.G. No Trolling on my part. I gave my name and did not hide.This blog/Post/Story was linked/Posted onto Facebook. If a person does not want comments , then that person should not have his stuff on Facebook. Per my statement: after the word ‘mythical’ there should have been a comma (,) then the word homosexual. As in the star of that fanciful rubbish movie(s) admitting that he tears out pages from Bibles he(it) finds in hotel rooms ( Leviticus to be exact). We can spread the Gospel on “social media”. Can’t do that by watching football games and watching trash movies. Pr. 14:12.

  13. Seth Fuller says:

    Thanks for the post Kevin. I have a slightly different perspective on this issue. I don’t disagree that breaks can be beneficial from time to time, but I think sometimes doing them misses the real matter of the heart, that our cravings for the pleasure of social media are greater than the cravings for righteousness. I wrote a fairly extensive article on this on my blog, which I hope you don’t mind my sharing:

    How Christians Should Use Facebook
    http://apoorwretch.com/how-should-christians-use-facebook/

    For His glory,

    Seth Fuller

  14. dean says:

    A time for every activity under the sun…a time to blog & a time to refrain.

    The blessing of rest, surely God is good

  15. Seth Fuller says:

    If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations…according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23 ESV)

  16. Jeff Baxter says:

    Good thoughts Kevin. Blessings to you.

  17. Tim Gustafson says:

    Just stumbled on this while conducting research. Kevin shares an excellent post about a subject that non-Christians and Christians alike will find valuable.
    I checked the comments only because I thought “Surely, this will receive exclusively good feedback. No flaming rants here.”
    I was wrong. Not sure how Shane Hokansen’s very public comments will draw non-Christians to Christ. To any who may be seeking real answers for life, I apologize for this man’s careless words. He does not represent well the Christ he purports to follow.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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