Giving it up (for a while)

It’s Mardi Gras as I write this.  Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday.  It’s the day on which, historically, you wanted to use up the things in your pantry and larder that you were not going to be able to eat during the 40 days of Lent, which, historically, most people observed. According  to Wikipedia, this idea of fasting for 40 days got its start around 331 CE. The idea, originally, was to have only one meal a day, and to avoid meat, dairy, oil and wine (doesn’t that sound fun?). Gradually, that expanded to a small “collation” or snack in the morning and evening, and the main (meatless, oilless, dairy-less) meal at lunch.  In many places, fish and seafood were allowed, and in Canada, historically, you could also eat beaver. So, eating pancakes and sausages on this day kind of makes sense, to mark a stretch when, historically, you couldn’t eat those things.


This could have been your way around a meatless meal in early French-Canadian culture. photo credit: flickr user Space Age Sage via cc


Over time, the idea of “fasting” or “abstinence” during Lent has evolved into giving other things up – maybe chocolate, or beer, or coffee. Followers of this practice are often asked to think about something that draws them away from God that might be given up, or to think about whether they could add prayer or devotional time to their day, rather than giving something up.

This year,  I’ve decided that I need to try a self-imposed social media fast. Particularly during this self-funded leave year, I find that I can happily spend a lot of time down the rabbit hole of my Twitter and Instagram feeds. Without my daily face to face connections with colleagues, I find myself craving connection through my digital networks, and seeking that next hit of dopamine from a like or reply. I need to wean myself away from that, and hopefully find some more time for writing, knitting, spinning, working out, and yes, prayer and meditative time.

I’m also interested in seeing whether stepping away from social media helps with my expectations (my OneWordOnt). I was intrigued during Tina Zita’s OTF workshop on wellness in a digital world to hear one of the participants admit that being on social media actually raises her stress level as a teacher. She feels like she sees all these great ideas, and creates some unreasonable expectations for herself in terms of using them all. I have had other friends share this thought as well. Perhaps taking some time away from the #edtech social media world will help me focus in on the things I already know I want to do with my class next year, rather than worrying about what the hot new activity might be. We’ll see.

One thing I’m pretty certain I’ll accomplish is lowering my yarn budget. I had no idea that Instagram was the true home of yarn porn. So much hand-dyed loveliness, so many women of Star Wars colourways, so much money…..


So, this is a farewell for the next 40 days or so. If you need to reach me, e-mail will probably be easiest, although I will also check Messenger, and Twitter DM. I will still be blogging, and will share those posts via social media. I hope to be “talking” to some of you via your blogs. I hope you’ll let me know if there’s something big happening with you that I might miss if I’m not on Facebook. Maybe we can get together over a cup of tea…..


Let the sparks fly



12 thoughts on “Giving it up (for a while)

  1. Thank you for posting your Lenten goal here. I admire you greatly (for many things, including this). I chatted with my husband about this, because I was both fascinated and almost “envious” of your goal and if that would work for me; we discussed the difference between giving social media up completely and, say, putting a time limit on it. He asked about what controls there would be if I were to push my 15 minute limit to 20 and so on. Too tempting to go overboard. He made a good point, and I felt like I couldn’t give up the Twitter and the Facebook precisely because of those digital connections you mention as a reason for cutting them out for 40 days. How would I stay in touch with my friends for whom Facebook is our only means of communication? How would I share the cool things my students are doing? How would I support AML or TDSB with the PD-rich Twitter chats? But yet there’s been articles about how hard and rewarding a “social media fast” can be. Please keep track of how this goes for you.

    My husband’s spiritual advisor recommended choosing something small but significant from each of the three “areas” (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving), so for me, I’m going to try 1) saying morning and evening prayers on my knees instead of in the comfort of my own bed, where I have a tendency to drift off, 2) fasting from in-between meal snacks or “foraging”, and 3a) giving the financial equivalent of any restaurant/fast food meal I buy for myself for Lent to church, and 3b) giving change to every homeless person I see on an off-ramp from the highway. You already know which will be the hardest for me, so keep me in your prayers, ‘k? ;>

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. I’m really impressed with your trifold Lenten intention. The foraging for snacks piece would be the most challenging for me.

      I’m like you in terms of time online. I often try to give myself time limits, but find them very hard to stick to. I can go cold turkey without difficulty when I’m “off-grid”, but if I have access, it’s far more challenging for me.

      I’m hoping to put morning and evening prayer into the rotation, so we’ll see how it goes.
      Thank you for your response. I know you are walking with me on this one. I will be keeping you and your intentions in mind, too. Let’s do a couple check-ins through the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your Lent goal here! I’ll admit that just thinking about giving up social media for the next 40 days is making me feel stressed. It’s often a part of how I self-regulate. Connecting with others over a tweet or reading new ideas via a blog post make me feel calmer. But this is such a great reminder that what’s calming for one person can be dysregulating for another. So I hope that giving it up allow you to do things that make you feel even calmer, and connect more with both yourself and others. I’m glad to hear that you’ll still be blogging, and I will definitely engage with you here.

    So curious to read your reflections after this experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Aviva. I’m curious, and nervous. I know that your blog will be one of my lifelines through this adventure, so have no fear that I’ll be connecting with you that way. My time on social media is decidedly a regulating strategy for me, but I need to figure out how to regulate it. I think there are timers in my future. I also need to think about what parts of it are regulating for me, and what parts actually move me into a disregulated state.
      There will be lots of reflection on this!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Your decision, and this post make me reflect on some recent changes I have made too.

    I reflected on my SM use during the holidays and concluded that I needed to make some changes, too. I’m not a heavy SM user but I started working online in “quiet” mode Jan 1. And on Feb 5 I have asked for no personal devices in the classroom (we’re 1 to 1 already). I am already experiencing a huge impact in my productivity (Ss too). I left Facebook years ago and I really use Instagram just to see my daughter’s work in dance, so Twitter is my only SM outlet. If I’m not involved in something planned online (e.g. hosting a tweet chat or some other online project like #onewordont or #nf10for10) then I reserve my ‘rabbit hole’ excursions to Sunday morning. Most Fridays I’m not included in Doug’s #FF round-up because I’m not online on Thursday nights.

    These changes have provided me with more time to read, helped me be more selective in how I spend my online time, and improved my face-to-face relationships. These actions also play into my #OneWordOnt. I want to enable my students to turn their academic fear into academic courage. One thing they can do is reduce the distractions in their lives. They can start to monitor how their time in front of a screen is being used, that sitting in front of a screen for 3 hours does not mean that they are doing school work for 3 hours. They not only have their parents fooled, but they are fooling themselves too. So, I spend time wondering out loud ‘to them’ ideas about what’s normal with regards to screen time and I share with them the ways that I monitor and assess my screen time use.

    It’s a process that’s for sure. Best of luck with yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie, thanks so much for your reply. It is incredibly heartening for me. I have found, on my learning path, that at times I prefer the company of my personal learning family to that of my in-building colleagues. I think sometimes that’s okay, but I want to make sure it’s not getting in the way of building relationships with the people I see every day.

      I love that you’re able, with one to one, to work on task focus and distraction awareness with your students. Attention to intention is such a big deal for me. (Particularly because of my ADD)
      You’ve just raised another factor for me. Part of why I love social media is that it’s a space where it feels like my ADD is a gift, and those are rare. Have to dig into that one.
      I’m so glad you’re finding your step back rewarding. Looking forward to the adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the lovely post Lisa, I learnt a lot about the history of lent. I never understood why Shrove Tuesday was about pancakes. Good luck in your social media fast, I’ll be sending you supportive energy throughout the fast and then as you reintegrate into social media when it ends.

    I started limiting my social media use a couple of years ago, which included stepping away from taking the lead in organizing PostEtmooc events. I thought it would be harder than it was. It has allowed me to strengthen my face to face relationships with my family and others, be more mindful about how and when I engage online, and devote more time to off-line activities.

    It also provides better role modelling to my kids. B-)

    I’m a little too far away to take you up on the offer of a cup of tea, but maybe someday when we are in the same province we’ll have the chance to meet face to face.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Rhonda. I’m really appreciating the moral support from so many people. And it’s genuinely lovely to know that people will be rooting for me throughout the period of Lent.

      Mardi Gras was always one of my favourite things to teach in French class, because my students were fascinated to find out the history of Fat Tuesday. And we are so far away from the days when everyone went to church to be “shriven” before Lent that that’s worth a conversation, too.

      Looking forward to the reconnect in April. And I do hope we get that chance to sit down together face to face at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for tagging me in your original announcement, Lisa. I just read your original post for the third time and worked my way through the replies. I find that it was an interesting transition from your personal decision to discussions about the effect that social media has on people. For my point, the latter isn’t relevant!

    I wish that I could say something insightful but the more I think about it, the more I think it would be wrong. This is a personal commitment on your part and I don’t want to be anything but respectful for what you’ve elected to do.

    I admire you for making your choice and wish you all the best. I wish that we lived closer so that I could join you in that cup of tea. My wife gave me some Oolong for Valentine’s Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Doug. I did get an interesting bunch of responses. I am really intrigued to see how it goes. I am looking forward to seeing how I look at things differently without my social media lens.

      I am an Oolong fan, so maybe we’ll have to have a cup via Skype sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

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