Mute the noise: How data fasting can help you rediscover the meaning of Lent

Friday 18th March 2022

By Bishop John

Social Media has become a significant part of our daily lives. As I travel around Manchester I see people with their heads buried in phones on buses, in coffee shops and restaurants, and even as they walk along the street.

Many of our younger people are living in a world defined by likes, shares, and retweets. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that those who spend a large proportion of time on social media are actually more likely to suffer from low esteem and anxiety.

There is nothing wrong with social media in moderation. Even the Pope tweets, and if you are not following the Diocese of Salford on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, please do! But we should be careful not miss out on real life and personal interactions because we are too busy looking at a screen.

Is it time we all took a step back from comparing our lives to those around us and concentrate on our own priorities and goals?

The Season of Lent provides us with an opportunity to do just that. Lent is a time for reflection when we deliberately try to re-focus on what we believe, and why. We remind ourselves about the faith and trust that we have in our God.

Our lives are busy and every day can be so full of chores, decisions, routines and, while we try always to be doing the right thing, sometimes we lack that sense of putting our faith into action in what we do. We can simply be too busy to recognise opportunities and make the best decisions.

Lent invites us to stand back and to deliberately create a bit of time to remind ourselves what motivates us and how we make the decisions of everyday. We remember what God has done for us and how Jesus came to show us the way to live.

For the forty days of Lent each year we try to give three things some extra importance: prayer, fasting and alms-giving. With less time listening to the noise of social media it is easier to find the time and space to concentrate on the real meaning of Lent.

Lent can be a helpful time to anyone who wants to step back from the rush of life and make time to consider what we want our lives to be about. Maybe if we step back from our phones we will make it easier to find what we want that to be.

Data Fast: Is your digital footprint as clean as you think?

Caring for our common home comes in many forms. Perhaps you’re a recycling hero, maybe you’ve switched to an electric car, or maybe you’re growing your own food, or have moved to greener energy alternatives.

But have you ever stopped to think about how your data usage impacts the planet?

Whether it’s scrolling through social media, shopping online, sending a selfie or an email, each of these small actions comes at a cost.

Due to the energy supply, wireless networks, and data centres you access for your internet needs, this consumption has a surprising impact on our carbon footprint.

Although these singular actions only have a small imprint, collectively it creates a considerable impact on our carbon emissions, contributing to around 3.7% of global gas emissions, according to think tank The Shift Project.

So, this Lent, why not embark on a different kind of fast and rethink how we are using the internet and what small changes to our online life can we make to help our common home.

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Tagged | Bishop John | Catholic Church | Environment | Lent | Society

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