During his October 2018 general women’s session address, President Russell M. Nelson issued four challenges to the women of the Church, one of which included taking a 10-day fast from social media. President Nelson made a similar challenge to the youth in June 2018 — while acknowledging the positives of social media, he stated that it can detract from the Spirit, as well.
The prophet also encouraged the women in the Church to record the experiences and impressions they have during their experience and to see how it reduces negative thinking or impure thoughts. Many have already begun their social media fast, publicly signing off of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the next 10 days — or until further notice. Here are responses from 19 women who have taken a break from social media and what they’re hoping to gain from the experience:
"I decided to participate in the social media fast because as much as I love Facebook and staying connected, I love my family more,” said Kelsey Johnson Wilson, who noted that she also has an Instagram account which she will be fasting from. "I hope to gain an idea of just how much time was wasted unnecessarily, and be able to prioritize my family first. It’s only day one and I’m off to a great start."
Carina Smargiassi of Venado Tuerto, Argentina, said she would also be following the prophet's counsel.
"I will be disconnected for 10 days from social networks to follow the council of a loving living prophet who wishes the best for us these days,” she wrote. “Eight years ago, I followed the council of Gordon B. Hinckley and survived leukemia. I don't follow the prophets simply for health reasons — but I am anxious to begin my fast from of social media, which I know steals a lot of time from us."
Christie Mejia in Paris also said she wouldn’t be checking her social media feeds any time soon.
Chrisie Allen, from West Friendship, Maryland, is avoiding Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. She's also avoiding YouTube unless it has to do with personal development or work.
"I decided to participate because the prophet asked us to and I have faith that following his advice will bring me blessings," she said. "I decided to start it the day after conference because I didn't want to procrastinate it, which may have ended with me not doing it at all. I also have been wanting to take a break from social media and was excited to hear this challenge."
With the time she's not spending on social media, Allen stated that she hopes to improve other areas in her life.
"I hope to have more time and mental space to work on my goals like waking up early, exercising, eating better, working on my coaching business, writing, and reading the scriptures more etc."
When asked why she is participating in a social media fast, Hannah Ferguson, a resident of Lehi, Utah, said she primarily wanted to see if she had the willpower to do it. Even though her birthday falls during the fast, she said she’s not checking her notifications until afterwards. The benefits so far are outweighing the costs.
“I wasn’t running late this morning to get ready for work,” she said. “Normally I’ll get on Facebook after my shower and clear my notifications and look at my memories — which always takes longer than I want, therefore making me rush and usually skip breakfast. Today I had 25 extra minutes. I actually sat down and ate before leaving for work. I may extend this to after the 10 days to not get on before work.”
Being distant from social media, Ferguson said, has also impacted how dependent she is on her phone. “I’ve found that it’s easier to leave my phone in my room or purse. Like I don’t HAVE to have it right by my side,” she said.
Some Church members, like Tara Savage from West Jordan, Utah, said that President Nelson’s challenge was an answer to guidance she had already been seeking for.
“This is not to say that it has been easy,” she said. “It has not!! Wow, has it not. But it isn’t like I was giving up breathing, right? It is just Social Media for heaven sakes! But it has been eye opening to say the least. The amount of times that I click on that icon on my phone is staggering. (I logged out of all of them so I wouldn’t be tempted to even look!) But I have also realized that I have a lot more time in the evenings because I am not just wasting time on social media.”
When asked what she hopes to gain from following the prophet’s challenge, Savage said she’s hoping to deepen her relationship with her Heavenly Father and the Savior.
“I am hoping for a little clarity,” she said. “I am hoping that Heavenly Father feels like He is able to reach my heart easier. That my mind isn’t muddled with frivolous thoughts that come from looking at Social Media. I have noted that the ‘chatter’ is not there in my mind’s dialogue. There isn’t the constant need to see who has posted what onto Facebook in the last hour. And the funniest part is — I don’t know what anyone is having for dinner!
“I know that a lot of women that took on the challenge have commented on how much more time they spend with their family and that they have more meaningful conversations with their kids. As a single member of the Church and no children, I am more focused on how I spend my time with my Savior. And how I am bettering my relationship with Him.”