At general conference this October, the women of the Church were able to participate in a historic general women’s session Saturday evening, replacing the priesthood session. During this session, President Russell M. Nelson challenged the women of the Church to participate in a 10-day social media “fast”, and pray about what negative sources need to be removed from their lives.
“The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little?” President Nelson said as he counseled the women on how to approach the fast.
This invitation brought about a multitude of different reactions from members of the Church. Many young sisters were concerned with how their businesses on social media would be affected in result of the challenge, according to Deseret News.
Other women were willing to set social media aside for the following days and dedicate themselves to President Nelson’s request.
“I knew it would be a sacrifice, but I also knew I couldn’t take the words of the prophet lightly and I felt that I just had to do it. I also knew that my life would be blessed from following our Prophet’s counsel,” said Mackenzi Taylor, a junior studying public health.
Taylor said the most difficult part of her fast was resisting the temptation of turning to social media when she was bored. She said it was even harder when she felt disconnected from her family and friends from back home.
Taylor said listening to general conference talks encouraged her to remain strong when she felt tempted to turn to social media.
“I personally am distracted by constant notifications and updates of things that don’t matter in the long run. Social media can knock us down by making us feel like our outward appearance and quality of life always has to be better,” Taylor said.
“I have been so much more effective and time efficient. I wasted a lot more time on social media than I realized,” Taylor said. “I also felt a stronger abundance of the Spirit. My mind was so much clearer because I didn’t have any worldly pressures or distractions.”
Taylor hopes to find balance in her life with social media and how it affects her.
“A good way to find a balance could be to set a personal time limit, and to get out of the habit of checking media like, Instagram in situations and places I feel like I’m more prone to be tempted in.” Taylor said.
Emma Robinson, a freshman studying sociology, said she didn’t feel the need to participate in the social media fast because it wasn’t a distraction in her life. “I don’t feel like social media has a negative effect on me,” Robinson said. “Social media isn’t something I feel I need to be a part of constantly. When I’m on social media, I’m not the type of person that feels self-conscious.”
Robinson said she has considered fasting from her phone, forgoing social media all together.
While on a service trip to Ghana, West Africa, Robinson abstained from her phone for three weeks. Because of this sacrifice, she said it would be easier for her to give up her phone again.
“I didn’t miss it at all, losing my phone didn’t have that big of an impact on my life. It made it a lot easier because I wasn’t focusing on being homesick or lonely,” Robinson said. “I feel like when you’re just with you and your phone, it can be lonely as well.”
Robinson said even though she isn’t affected by the negativity on social media, other women around her have been weighed down by the expectations created through social media.
“I feel like there is a huge problem in society where women will scroll through social media and compare themselves to others,” Robinson said. If we want to gather Israel and we have such low-confidence in ourselves, we won’t be able to do so.”