For the second time, President Russell M. Nelson invited members of the Church to participate in a social media fast. Whether having accepted the challenge or not, all interviewed students admitted that social media can interupt their studies and can be unhealthy for your mental health.
“I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that brings negative and impure thoughts to your mind,” said Pres. Nelson in the general women’s session of Oct. 2018 general conference.
Doneza Dane Quinco, a sophomore from the Philippines majoring in hospitality and tourism management said during the first day of her fast she commented how sharing stories on Instagram and Messenger as well as viewing others’ stories can be a waste of time. She said, “You don’t have to tell people [to] like this or that, and then see who’s viewed it.”
Social media can be dangerous because it doesn’t have a “truth filter,” said Elder Ralph MacAfee, a BYU-Hawaii religion professor. “If we fast from social media for a while, it fortifies us just like a physical fast. It helps us through the spirit to be more sensitive to things that really matter.”
Social media often leads people to compare their lives to others in an unhealthy way causing insecurities, according to Randell Howard, a freshman from Virginia studying psychology. Howard mentioned how people have control over what they put online, and it can be easy to look at someone’s social media and think they are doing more with their life.
“You think others have perfect lives,” said Howard, “but it may not be true. People don’t want to share bad things [on social media].”
Howard said she has enjoyed participating in the 10-day fast because she’s focusing more on herself and living in the moment instead of looking at social media and thinking what experiences she doesn’t have.
“It’s nice not to worry about what others are doing,” said Howard on the third day of her challenge. “Social media is not as important as it seems. It's just a time filler. Take a break from it and see how your life changes.”
Maggie MacCabe, a freshman from Virginia with an undeclared major, said refraining from using social media is not as difficult as it seems. “You think you need it, but you can actually live without it. It’s not like eating or something you have to have. The prophet asked us to [social media fast], and it’s not really a big sacrifice.”
Following the prophet can bring blessings, said Quinco. “You don’t know what blessing it will bring exactly, but it will come. God will bless you because of your obedience.”
Kiana Crane, a freshman from Nevada majoring in biology, said she had always been distracted by social media while she was studying. She said obeying the prophet can help her be less distracted and change the situation.
Yoonjoo Park, a Korean freshman studying graphic design, said she couldn’t live without social media and it’s a must for her since she’s living far away from her friends in Korea. “I can see my friends’ daily lives and interact with them. That’s the most important thing. I miss them a lot. My parents will also worry if I don’t use social media.”
However, Park admitted that she has been spending about five hours on social media every day and she needs to reduce it. “Most of the time, [using social media] is meaningful, but sometimes it’s meaningless. I need to make more time to study and do assignments.”
Social media is highly addictive and the best way to fight this addiction is never starting it, Park shared. “I think if you’ve never used it [at the first place], then you can live without social media. If you have used it for once, then it can’t be just once.”
Monica Fung, a freshman from Hong Kong studying psychology, said her phone was once taken by her high school teacher because she carried her phone with her during school hours, which violated the school’s regulations. Therefore, she was forced to have a “social media fast” for seven days.
Fung recalled having “low motivation. My mood remained the same. That state remained the same. I felt like the whole world was stopped.”
Fung said to her personally, social media is “the source of all happiness.” She explained, “Having no wifi is already painful to me, let alone no social media at all.”