A month ago, on September 1st, I deactivated my Facebook and deleted Twitter and Instagram on my phone. I’m gonna go on a total social media fast for at least a month, I thought.
I’ve come to realize I may have a smartphone/social media addiction, and it’s getting out of hand. We all know social media can be a blackhole but my phone tells me I’m on my phone for an average of 7 hours a day. SEVEN HOURS! ANO TO, FULLTIME JOB?!
I spend a lot of time on my phone and social media for my work. The line between work and leisure had blurred into each other and has become indistinguishable. It doesn’t help that I’m currently in a transition phase where I’m not really sure what I want to be and do in life (lels) so with no clear goals and direction, it’s been so easy to just listlessly pick up my phone in my nothingness and scroll, scroll, scroll (it’s passivity and a mask for what’s really going on, I realized) instead of taking charge of my situation and doing something about it. It had to stop. I was getting nothing done and I was tired of just floating by and being direction-less.
I deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram off of my phone– a risky move considering I rely on social media for marketing myself and my art. I figured I will sacrifice a month or two of external, public growth in social media numbers in favor of investing in my private, internal growth and development (which will eventually manifest externally anyway). I retained only one social media app: TikTok (more on that later).
The first few days without social media was a struggle for me. Not having IG wasn’t much of a problem, but FB and Twitter was. When I found myself idle, I would actually notice my hand automatically reaching for my phone and navigating to my FB/Twitter apps. My thumbs would twiddle in the air before I would remember– oh, I deleted them (the apps, not my thumbs).
Without FB and Twitter, I turned to Pinterest which was installed on my phone. Pinterest was never one of my time-wasters like FB is, so I never considered it as social media (I use it for work inspiration and research). But without FB/Twitter to fill my idle time and hands with something, I used Pinterest as a replacement and found myself wasting more time than I should on that app as well. So I ended up deleting it, too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It took a few days (4 or 5?) before I adjusted to not having social media, then I got used to it and my brain and my hands weren’t looking for social media consumption anymore. I started using my phone less and less.
In the absence of social media, I was surprised to be able to GET. SO. MUCH. STUFF. DONE. Some of them were things I had been putting off for YEARS (procrastination is my worst habit!)– and with no distractions in the way, I got them done in a month. Amazing!
Here’s what I got into:
My sketchbook game is going strong.
My newest sketchbook (sketchbook #5 since 2016) is for wet media with thick, textured pages (I buy my sketchbooks in advance and it’s what I had lying around) so I’ve been forced to use paint as my medium. It’s a little more inconvenient than using pens which I’m more used to, but I’m embracing the growth and challenge that my sketchbook situation has presented me with.
I also had the time to finally shoot my sketchbook #3 flipthrough video, which I’ve been putting off for a year:
Blogging and fixing my website
I did a little fixing-up on this website– I fixed broken links in old blog posts, wrote my About page, reorganized my blog categories, etc.
I also managed to publish 5 blog posts in one month:
- In my Father’s House
- 10 books I’ve read that have stayed with me
- To all the sketchbooks I’ve loved before
- How to make tampo with God– the right way
That’s more than half of all the blog posts I published last year 😝
Without great solitude, no serious work is possible. —Pablo Picasso
Writing is something I know God is calling me to go back into but I had been putting it off as the desire/inspiration to write doesn’t come as easy as, say, making art. But now I realize that perhaps the reason inspiration to write doesn’t come is because I was filling my head with inane social media updates instead 😅 LOL. With my mind clearer without social media, I’ve had more ideas and inspiration dropping in my thoughts and more time to sit down and write about them. I’m happy I’m starting to ease into what I know I’m being called to do. I will see where this will lead me!
Getting postcards made
Another thing I’ve been putting off but now had time to work on was getting postcards from my sketchbooks printed! I’m looking into finally getting my art on small-batch merchandise I can produce on my own to sell on my Shopify store (another thing I fixed up during my social media absence), to supplement my passive income projects which I’ll be showing you next…
Creating digital products
- Tiki Hut Font – $12
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Font – $12
- Christmas Critters Illustration Pack – $15
- Christmas Cuties Illustration Mini-Pack – $6
Currently, passive income from my digital products is my bread and butter. I sell my graphics and fonts on Creative Market, Creative Fabrica (my biggest earner), and The Hungry Jpeg, among others. There’s no such thing as passive income, actually (there is nothing passive about it!), and how much I earn depends on how much work I put in. I usually average one product release a month but this September, I was able to release FOUR new products on my online shops, with another on the way as of this writing. Making these fonts/graphics and packaging them up to sell is a LOT of work, and without social media distractions in the way, there were times I was able to sit myself down and finish a font or graphic pack in one or two sittings. Yay!
Getting 3,000 followers on TikTok (hahaha)
If you haven’t heard, TikTok (formerly musical.ly) is the social media platform to be on right now. It’s the new Instagram, but for short form videos. I recently had one of my painting videos of Mama Mary go viral on TikTok (290,000 views as of this writing) and seeing the app’s potential for my audience, I retained this social media platform during my fast. Strike while the iron is hot, as they say.
All through September, I worked on creating content for TikTok– I purchased a mobile phone tripod to make speed painting and craft videos, shoot art memes, build Legos (more on that later), and it paid off (konti na lang, magvo-vlog na ko sa YouTube hahahahuhu). I started the month with maybe 700 followers and now it’s up to 3,200. As an artist on social media, having a following helps get your work noticed and it leads to paying opportunities. So yes, I was unabashedly building up my social media following by focusing on TikTok this entire month. The audience on TikTok is super young (8 year olds!!!) but as the app is still pretty young itself, the demographic is expected to shift to older audiences in time (just like what happened to FB and Instagram).
Social media numbers and technicalities aside, I enjoy making content on TikTok anyway– my video shooting and editing skills are honed, I can repost my TikTok content on my other social media platforms (when I’m done with my fast), and TikTok is basically a fun app. Win-win for all!
Cleaned up and organized my studio
I haven’t been using my art studio at home because I had other responsibilities (serving the Lord) and my focus was on that. But recently I took a break from my ministry commitments to fix my pressing life priorities. With time off from community, I now had time to use my studio again but before I could be comfortable making art in there, I had to tidy it up and make it workable again.
This is now my painting area:
I’m still working on tidying up the rest of the studio (I have a lot of art stuff and clutter!), so no photos of the other areas yet 😛
Painting Mama Mary
It’s been on my mind to start a series of religious paintings done in my style– something different from the usual somber and morose Catholic imagery. This Immaculate Heart of Mary painting (acrylic on canvas paper) is one of the first of many, I hope! I especially like the heart detail– the gold paint I used is shining shimmering splendid.
I will write about my religious art endeavors in the future. In the meantime, I’m slowly building up a body of work with this theme.
Read and finished books
I barely remember the last time I finished a book. Due to my short attention span, I have several books I read from– a chapter in this book, a few pages from another book. I have a lot of books I’m currently reading through at the same time that I almost never get to finishing one. However this month, I managed to finish CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters and St. Therese of Liseux’s autobiography (her feast day is today– October 1). Should I tell you that I started reading these books more than a year ago? Haha!
Both are good books though entirely different in nature. The Screwtape Letters, written from a fictitious point of view of the devil, is a heavy, heady, intellectual read. St. Therese’s autobio is a simple, inspiring one (but not to be mistaken as light reading). I immediately wanted to read it again after I had finished it, but I lent it to a friend.
I have a lot more books lined up and I’m looking forward to having more time to read in favor of giving up social media.
I normally don’t Netflix. It’s the last thing I would think of doing, ever (my attention span usually doesn’t last for an entire movie). But without social media for leisure time, Netflix suddenly appealed to me. I watched 5 movies this month (hehe), all of them I’ve already watched before but wanted to watch again. I especially liked What Dreams May Come, a visually-appealing story of life after death (bonus: one of the main characters is an artist/painter). It’s always been one of my favorite movies but it’s my first time watching it as a Christian believer and my new perspective gave the movie added depth I hadn’t perceived before.
I got into Lego. Hahahaha
I went to Divisoria with my mom and her friend in early September, for crafts shopping (tip: go to Tabora St. for craft supplies like beads, buttons, and plastic findings). I didn’t expect though to purchase……………………..
……………..a bootleg copy of the Hogwarts castle from Harry Potter. Hahahuhu 😫 I’ve seen this set online and the legit Lego version costs around Php 10k or something (with import fees and taxes). I’m not advocating piracy but in no way will I spend that amount on a toy even if I had discretionary income, sorry. I’ll be content with a bootleg version that’s a fraction of the price of the original:
Since it’s a bootleg made-in-China set (I will not be naming the brand. I’m not encouraging piracy wahahaha), it’s missing two bricks so far (minor ones, thankfully) out of the 983 pieces it’s supposed to have but I’m so thrilled with it anyway hahahuhu. I realized I’m a MAKER at heart. I enjoy making and creating things, whether it’s an illustration, a painting, or arts and crafts, or a Lego set. Plus, this is my repressed childhood dream coming out to play. When I was eleven, I asked my parents to buy me a non-themed Lego set (the kind where you can build anything you want) but they decided against it, saying it’s for boys (they got my brother a Lego police station set) and they also thought I will outgrow toys soon. Well, twenty plus years later, APPARENTLY NOT hahahaha.
Basta, sobrang tuwang-tuwa ako dito. I make TikTok videos showing me building the set. Hahahaha! ❤️
Getting an adequate amount of sleep!
Earlier this year, I was surprised to find out I was averaging 4-4.5 hours of sleep a night according to an app I had on my phone. I’ve always been a night owl ever since I was in my teens, but perhaps social media was making it worse. Most people wind down their day by scrolling on social media for leisure, and I’m not different from most. It’s not unusual for me to go to bed at 2 AM after a social media binge, and since I’m also trying to be a morning person (get more things done by having an early start!), I have a daily alarm that goes off at 6 AM even on weekends (it never works– I always hit snooze and go back to sleep). So there. Fail. No wonder I’m always so low on energy during the day.
Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash
Without social media to delay bedtime though, I was able to leave my phone away from my bed and I (without intending it) started going to bed earlier, around 11 PM-ish.
But I’m still working on getting out of bed at 6 AM. Hihi.
As an intercessor, prayer is like oxygen to me. It was during one of my meditations in prayer early this year that the Lord revealed my smartphone/social media problem was becoming a serious sin. It may seem small, silly, and innocent, but doesn’t temptation to sin usually start out that way at first? 15 minutes of Twitter here, 45 minutes of Facebook there. No harm done. But before you know it, the minutes add up to hours and you get nothing done when you could’ve been doing more important and productive things. That’s when it becomes sin. I was convicted, but I didn’t know how to stop.
When I stepped down from my position in ministry recently, I took this opportunity (no need to be on FB for ministry/community happenings!) to do this social media fast for the main purpose of shaking off this vice.
But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21 NASB
I started this social media fast as a secular (non-religious) fast. But I unintentionally found myself having more time to pray during this period. When you fast, you replace whatever you’re fasting from (i.e. food, a guilty pleasure, a habit, etc.) with prayer. I realized perhaps it was the Lord leading me to prayer and fasting– not only to break my pattern of addiction, but for spiritual reasons, too. I know He’s going to do something with my social media platforms (my Mama Mary painting video on TikTok going viral was just a start)– for His purposes– and I had to make sure my heart is right, my intentions are clean, and my plans for my social media accounts (and this blog!) are aligned with His, for me to be able to handle this responsibility well.
Without social media in the way, I’ve now been able to pray the rosary 2-3 times a day and I added a legit, sit-down 3 PM prayer time to my routine. Haha! I don’t usually do that. I can barely even bring myself to pray at night before bed (“Lord… thank You for today. Goodnight.” *Zzzz*) because– you guessed it– social media would eat up my time. So that’s being changed nowadays! I swear, I’m not doing this on my own (I kennat!) but it’s the Lord working through me. I’m grateful for the grace and gift of a more unified relationship with Him through prayer, and discerning His voice has been clearer without all the noise and clutter from the world.
1 month of social media fasting done. What now?
I am actually ENJOYING this time off from online socials. With my work intertwined so much with the Internet, connectivity has been both a blessing and a curse for me. I hate today’s expectations of having to respond to requests and messages immediately, and being mentally and emotionally “on” all the time. I’ve wanted to deactivate and disconnect multiple times in the past but my social, professional, and community responsibilities kept me from doing so. This, however, was the perfect time to do so.
There are so many benefits that come from doing a social media fast. I was 1,000,000x more creative and productive, I’ve been able to write on this blog, I slept better, I read books and watched movies instead of wasting time online, I had more time to pray, and I’m more peaceful and happy as a result. The only down side is I barely know what’s going on in current local/world events and I’ve missed greeting people on their birthdays without FB’s birthday notifications. But those are minor compared to the benefits this social media fast is bringing me.
And so… I’ve decided that I AM GOING ON ANOTHER MONTH OF SOCIAL MEDIA FASTING.
I still have a lot to take care of and prioritize in my personal life and I’ll be focusing on that this October. I’ll relax the rules a little, though. I might have some work events coming up that I need to promote online so I may get on my work accounts (art FB, IG) for that. But my personal FB account and Twitter stays off.
Ironically, I’m also gonna ask you to follow me on social media for when I get back from my cave 😛 I’ll have a ton of new content (sketchbook pages, painting videos, crafts) waiting to be posted in November, so stay tuned 🙂
I hope this post inspires you to take a social media break as well, even in shorter amounts of time. Try it if you can, even for a weekend. Disconnect, shut down, and maybe you’ll start doing the things you’ve been putting off for the longest time. Maybe you’ll be more present, taking time to be more mindful of your thoughts, slow down, and let ideas just flow. I think you’ll be happier and more peaceful for it 🙂