by Lauro A. Caliva
The Lenten practices are like purple curtains that you use to cover yourself from almost anything that may distract you from focusing on Christ. You attended the Ash Wednesday Mass and the Sunday Masses, and you did not eat meat on Fridays. You made sure that you went to Confession before attending any Mass throughout the season. You made extra effort to calm down, find brief moments of reflection, and regulated your reactions and emotions about other people. Almost everything is in place and you wanted to make sure that the only light you see is the light from God. When almost everything seems perfect, you noticed a small light somewhere. Look at it closely. Is it your phone?
Yes, it is your phone. Nowadays, almost everything you see outside your house can be seen on your newsfeed. It may show you videos that may bring noisiness to your day. It may show you images that lead you to commit sinful thoughts. It may show you posts and messages that trigger the negative emotions that you are trying to suppress. Now you know why Pope Francis told the people to put down the phones and to pick up the Bible.
It is definitely hard for you to follow the pope’s piece of advice. It is especially true for all because social media has been cemented in our consciousness and daily routines. It is almost as normal as breathing and drinking water. The total seasonal break from mobile devices is the best piece of advice that the successor of Saint Peter can give to the Church. The message, in reality, is not a tall order and there are still other ways to keep your phone in your routine during the season of Lent.
For Facebook, you must unfollow all your contacts that post entries regarding capitalism, negativity, and other things that are inappropriate for Lent. You also need to unfollow pages that produce the same materials. In this way, you still keep them as your online friends without letting them know that you do not want to see their content. Only keep pages and contacts that post materials about reflection, the Catholic faith, and Lent-related posts. In this way, your emotions are not triggered and your senses are distant from social media pollution.
For Twitter, refrain from checking the list of trending topics. Temporarily unfollow contacts and pages that flood worldly tweets on the platform. Refrain from sending any message to other people. It will make your Twitter newsfeed less toxic and less stressful.
For Instagram, my suggestion is temporary detachment until Easter Sunday. Though you may unfollow people temporarily and you can temporarily ignore the portion for trending posts, inappropriate posts may still slip through the newsfeed as advertisements.
For Google accounts, delete your search history and browsing history. Only search videos and articles related to Lent. The strategy will help you remain focused on the reason for the season. It will also save you and your Instagram account from inappropriate advertisements.
Aside from the four social media platforms discussed, there are other popular platforms that may be sanitized for Lent either by lessening the time spent in checking each platform or by exclusively searching religious resources to keep bad ads out of your online experience. I only chose to discuss only the four platforms because it is where most people likely spend their social media time.
If you follow all the tips included in this article, you can still have a meaningful Lent with your phone still at your hands. If you are having a hard time following the pieces of advice and social media accounts still cause you to commit sin, the last best option is to take Pope Francis’ Lenten message seriously. After all, people in the past were able to journey through Lent for many years even without the mobile devices of generations Y and Z.
About the Author: Lauro A. Caliva is a former volunteer writer in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Quezon City. He worked and studied in Metro Manila. Read this to learn more about him: https://lauroacalivaportfolio.wordpress.com/