President Nelson recently challenged the sisters in the Church to fast from social media (or any media “that bring negative and impure thoughts”) for 10 days. He invited us to participate and then evaluate the changes we would see in our lives at the end of the fast.
As the 10-day fast comes to a close, it’s important to remember why President Nelson issued the challenge in the first place. We are instruments in God’s hands to help gather Israel in these last days, and we can’t accomplish that when we’re mindlessly scrolling through endless photos, comments, likes, and hashtags. Negative media influences do nothing for us in God’s divine plan.
However, social media can be a powerful tool to find uplifting content and share positive thoughts. It’s a great way to keep up with friends and family members, share memories, and most importantly, spread the gospel. As we evaluate our social media usage, we can make changes that will allow social media to positively influence our lives and our followers’ lives.
1. Unfollow accounts that don’t make you happy.
This is such a simple concept but it completely changed the way I feel about social media. I used to feel defeated and jealous after scrolling through my Instagram feed, and feelings of inadequacy often overcame me.
Everything changed when a friend suggested unfollowing the accounts that didn’t make me happy. As I did, the feelings of jealousy and inadequacy slowly but surely melted away and I noticed a trend. The accounts that made me sad revolved around perfectly staged lives, airbrushed fitness models, and world travelers. I personally couldn’t handle seeing that every day, and the accounts you unfollow will probably be different from mine.
I still struggle with comparison on social media from time to time, but now it’s much easier for me to be happy for people and their accomplishments. I can separate the life people share on social media from the life they live behind the screen. Next time you’re on Instagram, check the accounts you follow and see which ones you could do without.
2. Follow uplifting accounts.
Once you unfollow the accounts that make you unhappy, follow the uplifting ones. I decided to follow all of the official Church accounts, the apostles, Latter-day Saint bloggers, and faith-promoting, motivational Christian influencers. I get to read powerful testimonies every day instead of feeling sad about my shortcomings.
► You'll also like: 11 Mormons You Won’t Regret Following on Instagram
3. Share inspiring content.
There are frightening things happening in the news and media every day. People are constantly sharing negative articles and disheartening stories, so break up the bad news on your feed with inspiring, uplifting content.
I love sharing motivational or gospel-related quotes and articles on my Instagram stories and Facebook page. If these inspiring messages can make my day a little better, surely they can do the same for someone else.
4. Be true to yourself.
Social media can get overwhelming and dangerous when you try to portray a life you don’t actually live. Keeping up a persona of perfection is exhausting and unrealistic. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry for all of your followers to see, but try to live in the moment and share the things you’re passionate about.
The pressure to be perfect in social media culture is so real. But remember that no one is perfect except Jesus Christ. We came to earth to be perfected in Him, and in our quest to do so, we’re all just trying our best.
5. Leave kind comments.
Social media isn’t just for sharing your own photos and status updates. Instead of focusing on your posts, likes, and comments, take time to write out thoughtful, kind messages to your friends and family and leave them on their posts.
Cyberbullying is a major issue, so leaving kind words of encouragement can set a Christlike example and brighten someone’s day. If you ever have a prompting to leave a kind comment on a post, don’t ignore it.
6. Limit your time.
Social media is great, but it has the potential to waste a lot of precious time. Be mindful of the amount of time you’re spending on social media apps and limit yourself to certain times and places, and remember the time you spend with your loved ones in person is more precious than any time spent on the internet.
Apple recently released a time-tracking feature for iPhones. You can go into your settings and see how much time you spend on each app, how many times you pick up your phone in a day, and set time restrictions on apps like Instagram and Facebook. Being aware of your screen time can help you better manage it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in any aspect of life, take a step back from social media for a while. You’ll have more time to focus on things that truly matter to you and you’ll be able to reset your priorities.
7. Share the gospel.
President Nelson urged the women in the Church to help gather Israel. “It is a cause that desperately needs women, because women shape the future,” he said. “So tonight I’m extending a prophetic plea to you, the women of the Church, to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.”
Sharing the gospel is the best way to help gather Israel. Don’t be afraid to share quotes from general authorities you’re inspired by. If you feel prompted to share your testimony on social media, do it. You never know the impact your words and feelings can have on others who read your posts.
As you return to social media after the fast, take time to think about how you can make it a positive space for yourself and for others.