Saturday, March 05, 2011

Giving up social networking for Lent

So, I'll be giving up Social Networking for Lent. Some have offered
ways for me to Tweet, update my Facebook profile and blog "without
cheating". These have all been innovative suggestions :-). I have
also met some resistance to this idea from others . Let me explain
why I chose Social Networking. Well, let me first explain my
understanding of a fast, and specifically a Lenten fast. I have found
great value in the Muslim teaching on fasting and have adopted these
for myself. You see, Muslims state that there are three reasons for
fasting. First of all, one fasts as a reminder to yourself that all
things come from God. Nothing and no-one is self-made, deserved or
earned through our own efforts. Secondly, we distance ourselves from
things that have become "the second master". Thirdly, we identify
with those for whom this state of "need" is a daily reality. So, here
is my take on giving up Social Networking:

1. The privilege of being on the internet.

I have come to take for granted that I will always be connected. I
have found myself getting irritated when my cellphone shows low
signal, when the 3G connection drops down to a snail-pace GPRS.
Whenever someone asks a question, I jump on to Mr Google and provide
some knowledge within the blink of an eye. I love seeing what is
happening in other people's lives and, those who are my friends on
Facebook will know that I am equally enthusiastic about sharing my
experiences on the net. But these things are not a given and I need
to remind myself of this. It is not good that my mood is determined
by the speed of my connection, the availability of broadband or the
presence of a wi-fi network. This is why I am giving up Social

2. The second master.

Closely linked to point number 1, I thought that if I spend as much
time in prayer as what I do on Social Networking sites, I must grow a
bit in my spiritual walk. It would have helped if Jesus were on
Twitter or was a Facebook friend, but Jesus wants to be in a much
more intimate relationship with me. God longs to hear and feel my
self-expression, not get to know me through a Tweet or an update (and
vice versa). So, during Lent, every time I have the urge to Tweet or
update my profile, I am going to spend that time in prayer. This is
why I am giving up Social Networking.

3. Identifying with the internet-deprived.

How many millions of people around the world do not have access to
the internet? They do not have the privilege of seeing what is
happening around the world. More so, many of their voices are not
heard and their life-situations cannot change. We have seen the power
of Social Network media in Egypt, Libya and other countries where
atrocities are taking place. What about those places where people
cannot or may not engage in Social Networking? Who identifies with
them? This is why I am giving up Social Networking.

I pray that through this Lenten journey I will learn more about God,
myself and my neighbour.