Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The benefits of a Twitter Sabbath



Growing up in a devoutly Christian household, the concept of Sabbath – a weekly day of rest – was instilled early. Throughout my childhood, the point was hammered home: you don’t work on Sunday. Sunday is meant to rest and recharge for the week to come.

That lesson stuck with me as I grew up, and a day of rest became a valuable part of my weekly rhythm. As I balanced a full course load at university and near full-time hours to fund my studies, 24 hours of respite became essential for my emotional and mental well-being. Though it might sound crazy, I worked my tail off making lattes and completing homework in six days so that on the seventh, I could rejuvenate and focus on myself.

In the last few years, I’ve begun incorporating a type of Sabbath in a new area of my life – social media.

Working as a reporter requires a lot of time on Twitter. I am constantly patrolling community accounts for story ideas and breaking news. As a journalist, I also feel a responsibility to stay up to date on what’s occurring locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, and understand how the ripples of those events impact Rocky View County.

Having a browser tab open to Twitter all day on my computer, invariably, I get notifications from the accounts I follow – which leads me to spend great amounts of time scrolling my timeline. In short, I’m somewhat addicted to my Twitter feed.

I’ve always felt the Internet is a lawless wasteland of outrage. But it’s been significantly more so lately, as the state of the world seems to have taken a turn for the worse. We are more divided than ever, and the battle lines are sharply drawn online. It takes about fifteen minutes of scrolling for me to feel increasingly despondent about our shared outlook.

So, I’ve been incorporating a social media Sabbath into my weekly rhythm. As much as possible, I try to avoid Twitter on Sunday, and sometimes even on Saturday. I give myself the weekend to forget about whatever troubles or faux-troubles the world might be facing, to just breathe deeply and enjoy my own immediate surroundings before wading back in on Monday morning. I read a book, enjoy the sunshine, spend time with friends or bike with my wife, rather than staring at my phone screen.

It doesn’t always happen. The temptation to pull out my phone and open the blue app is strong, and sometimes, I succumb. Or, news breaks and I feel the need to get up to date right away. But I find taking a break from the doom and gloom of social media has paid dividends for my emotional well-being, and helps me stay focused on the positive – if only for a day or two.

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