Social Media Sacrifice

I was raised in a Christian household, with celebrations of religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas. We knew the Bible and its stories, and we prayed before dinner. However, I never understood what it meant to truly celebrate religious holidays until late high school when I struggled to understand the ninety-minute line for the fish fry in town.

For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine waiting that long in a stuffy, packed, and smelly place to eat fried fish. However, this event in itself is one of my Catholic friend’s biggest celebrations of the year, and everyone debates which parish makes the best fried fish in all of Nebraska.

After going to a Catholic high school, I was introduced to an entire new world of celebrations. There is a Saint Valentine’s Day, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Holy Thursday, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, you name it. While some of these holidays have been distorted into a perception of culture such as chocolate and roses on St. Valentine’s Day, others stand strong in their traditions and values.

Despite never being Catholic, my family engaged in one particular Catholic-originated celebration of “lent”. According to BBC, “Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.”

Growing up, my brothers always gave up either soda or candy (never both at once!), while I usually gave up chocolate or coffee (also never at once). It was never a strict program at my house, no one got punished for eating a Hersey’s Bar, but it was a personal challenge that we strived to show our appreciation for what was sacrificed for us. I remember having to tell my friends in the fourth grade that I couldn’t eat the Oreos we always shared because I was challenging myself “to be more like Jesus.” They shrugged, not understanding or caring, and ate the extra cookies themselves.

This year, now that I live on my own terms with my own kitchen and rules, I decided that fasting from sweets or caffeine was a wonderful thing and would probably benefit me greatly, but there was an additional problem that has been underlying in my life for a while now.

Me thinking about keeping chocolate in my life this season

I know a lot of celebrities or internet personas go on a “retreat” or “cleanse” from social media for a week, a month, or an even longer time period. According to an article from Business Insider, going on a social media cleanse helped to feel more rested, promoted productivity, and increased overall clarity and well-being. Not to mention that social media has been linked to a possible increase in negative effects on mental health.

With this information in mind, I have decided that for the next 4o days, I will log off of my personal social media pages (because I am the social media manager for an organization, I won’t be completely deleting the app from my phone). But all personal pages have been taken away for the time being.

I thought it would be more challenging at first, as I imagined all the spring break beach posts and hilarious tweets I would be missing.

So why am I doing this? Because we tend to only display the best and prettiest angles of our lives, and it leads to anxiety and a deep sadness when the number of likes leaves us feeling under-appreciated and unworthy. Not to mention that according to my screen time tracker, I am averaging 4 hours a day on my phone, and I would like to reduce this number at least a little – for both my physical and mental health.

And while we’re at it, I will also add that I will not be standing in line for two hours to eat fried fish in this season as well, for both my physical and mental health.

So until then, I will be paying a lot more attention to my blog, my email, and whatever else I have been missing in life while scrolling through Instagram.

Best,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

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