I am back after living in a cave for forty-six days! Reunited with friends and families, at last!

For forty-six  days, I decided to live in a cave. Not physically though.  I decided to give up  social media and it felt like I lived in a cave! A bit exaggerated but it’s the shortest  and easiest way to describe it!

No IG Stories to view, no IG photos to like, no video on Facebook to laugh at and no Twitter update to know what’s trending.

Nothing.

Days without these apps on my phone is living like a hermit who chose a solitary life in a place far from civilization. It is hard!  It’s harder than not eating rice! (If you’re Filipino who loves Adobo,  you know  what I mean! lol!) So this is what it’s like:

46 days of boredom. Life without Social Media is B-O-R-I-N-G!! Cause it means excruciating bus ride or lining up at the grocery store without browsing my phone.  I just stared and looked around or slept when transit is too long. I hate it but I love it! I Love it because I get to appreciate the things around me. I stared at the sunset longer than usual, I paid attention to what’s happening in front of me more than usual. In being more present, I noticed the tiny details of things and it made me even more grateful with what I have.

46 days of being disconnected  and ignorant with what’s happening in the world. A lot of things had happened in 46 days. Weddings and  engagements of friends, family gatherings, conference and events I used to be part of. And a lot of things had happened in the world in 46 days of course! Yet, I was not updated with with what’s #trending!

But the last 46 days taught me to proactively know the latest news, not just passively waiting ‘til headlines appear on my Twitter feeds. I was compelled to reach out to friends and families to know  how they’ve been and not just passively assume that they are okay based on their posts.

It sucks to realize that social media has formed me to be more passive. But wait, is it social media? Or I just grew comfortable with  looking at the world through scrolling my feeds, judging it from what I see and read. But do I really know enough? No wonder fake news  are widely spread because there are a lot of people like me who grew comfortable with scrolling!

It made me ponder, “Am I legitimately connected with  my friends and families or I just assume that we are still connected?”

One of my good old friends bothered to visit me in the “cave” by  telling me that she’s engaged before she will make it #FacebookOfficial. Legitimate relationship requires legitimate encounter. I hope that I will be able to uphold the value of authentic encounter by establishing good conversations, beyond “likes and comments”.

Not posting anything in 46 days. This is what I struggled the most but this is the main reason why I gave up social media. This will make this blog longer LOL!

I am a passionate advocate of Social Media Evangelization.  I strongly believe that social media is a platform we can use to proclaim our faith. After all, as Christians, we are called to spread the good news, aren’t we?

I make conscious effort in making  my online presence consistent with my identity as Catholic and as a missionary. I am taking it seriously and too serious at times. I make sure that my feed  is well-curated both captions and photos. I think and overthink what to post. I am conscious with utilizing the social media platform as how it should be. No random thoughts on Facebook,  I use Twitter instead, Instagram is not for photo updates I use Facebook instead, IG stories is for the most random things but it should not be more than 5 stories a day so my followers won’t get bored. You see, when I say I am taking it seriously – I meant I’m REALLY SERIOUS about it!

Then there goes Lent, a time of the year when Catholics are called to sacrifice something  to draw ourselves closer to God. After recognizing that social media made me less productive and less present, I knew what to give up for Lent. At first I was adamant. Giving up social media entails giving up sharing my faith online. It was as if I was asked to stop doing what I was called to do. Very ironic, isn’t it? St. Paul himself said, “But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not hear the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed?  “Romans 10:14

So, why did I give up social media?

The answer came when I went to confession  few days before Ash Wednesday. Social media became the enemy’s platform to separate me from God. I grew deaf and blind, unable to hear God and see His greatness cause I’m on my phone.  It’s like missing out a great feast served on the dinner table because I was busy taking photos of my food. It’s like missing out a great conversation with friends because I was busy browsing my feeds.

After I deleted my social media apps, I withdrew myself to a solitary place where I was able to notice where I am at  and what I have become.

It sucks to be confronted with an ugly truth: I was defeated by my human desire to be validated. It’s such a shame to admit that my hunger to be seen and recognized are being fed by the likes  and comments I received in my posts. I fell unto the temptation of dwelling in loneliness when I see posts of friends and families that makes #FOMO so real which eventually sent me to a state of oblivion. I beat myself up for  wrong choice of terms, when semantics does not make sense, when random thoughts became too random or photos posted are not good enough, because when I am weak (which happens a lot), my passion to evangelize is dominated by my ego.

 

BOREDOM, DISCONNECTION and OBLIVION. The last 46 days in three words.

But it taught me to be more  present and be attentive with the minute details of my day.

It helped me  grow in discipline.

I have longer sleep cause reading a book  (instead of browsing my phone) is a very efficient sleep aid.

It made me appreciate boredom cause boredom paves way for productivity (this is worth another blog)

I don’t need to rush in the morning cause I omitted “browsing my feeds” as part of my morning routine.

I  grew more  interested in listening to Catholic  podcasts and I have watched bazillion Catholic videos in Youtube.  Catholic Answers,  Fr. Mike Schmitz and Bishop Barron were great companies  while I was in a cave.

Most of all, it allowed me to see how far I veered away from my original calling: To know, love and serve God may it be online or offline.

A year ago, I wrote in my journal, “When  I become a saint, I want to be a Patron Saint of Social Media Evangelization”.  I guess I have been too focused on becoming a “Patron Saint of Social Media Evangelization” that I forgot to strive to be a saint first. I  lose focus in striving to live a life of holiness by growing in virtue and deepening my relationship with God because I was too distracted.

Lent is over. I am now back to the real world. May  God grant me the grace to always choose what can make me holy whether online or offline.

Tomorrow, I will be faced with these choices:  check my Instagram after I turn off my alarm or to skip that part so I can have longer time to pray.

The struggle is real, but I hope and pray that  you and I will strive to choose what can make us holy… EVERYDAY!

After the Resurrection, the Apostles chose to follow God even to a point of death.  I guess giving up some comforts is just a piece of cake compared to being stoned to death or crucified, isn’t it?

Happy Easter, Easter people! May you choose God today.

Have a blessed and joyful adventure ahead!

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“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

-St. Catherine of Siena

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