The holy season of Lent is upon us, and as part of the tradition, people will give up specific pleasures for the duration of the period of fasting. I know many people who view this as an opportunity to reduce vice, and certainly, that is a good thing to do (and not just during Lent), but I think approaching fasts from such a perspective defeats the point a little bit. The point of penitence (as I see it) is not to improve oneself by removing vice, but to bring oneself closer to God by removing ease and pleasure – to make oneself more dependent on God and to realize that “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
To that end, I’m engaging in a social media fast. Yes, social media can be bad, it can be addictive, and it distorts perceptions of the world. This is not why I’m stepping away, even though reduction of those things is beneficial, even for me, who is more aware of the downsides than a typical person. I truly enjoy social media, particularly Twitter. The constant flurry of information, the clashing of perspectives, the attack of new ideas from all directions. It’s all very fun for me, and I really do love interacting with my friends on Twitter and on Youtube.
So in the spirit of penitence, it’s appropriate, and like abstaining from wine or rich food, keeping the senses pure allows one’s mind to be directed more fully toward God. It’s much easier to hear his voice and discern his will when there isn’t an infinite doomscroll just waiting on the phone to capture my attention. This is all the more important now when war in Eastern Europe is heating up, and social media is full of interesting bits of “information.”
I’ll take a moment to reiterate something that I’ve said many times before, which I first said after a month-long social media fast (including YouTube): The news makes you know less and makes you feel bad. It makes you know less because most news is false. Quite apart from deliberate fake news and propaganda (of which there is plenty right now), the 24-hour news cycle (instant news in the social media age) reports information that is incomplete, and therefore the “whole story” isn’t told when the news breaks; thus, most of the news you watch turns out to be false. It also makes you feel bad since news that provokes negative emotions penetrates the fog of social media in a much more profound way than positive stories do. The media likes to blast you with the salacious, the extreme, and the overwhelming to keep you paying attention.
Those feelings of fear and anger are things that Christ specifically warns us of. So if you want to grow closer to God, to trust his will more fully, you have to shut out the noise, which is akin to a demon whispering in your ear.
I still plan on releasing content on my main blog, dvspress.com, and on YouTube, but on both of them, I won’t be reporting on current events. My YouTube content will likely be focused entirely on educational content or audiobooks. On YouTube, I won’t be responding to comments (which is something I really enjoy doing, but I need to shut out the noise). If you need to reach me for any inquiries or business, you can always email me at email@example.com. I would consider abstaining from both of them, but I’ve just released a new book, and I have significant content in two other just-released anthologies. Social media is part of my business, like it or not.
If you are looking to do a little reading, please check out:
Generation Y: The New Lost Generation. Collected and edited by JD Cowan, this is a free anthology featuring essays and fiction by JD, Brian Niemeier, and myself. I really appreciate Cowan’s work assembling this, as it’s a kind of record of the ongoing discussion of our generation in 2020-2022, where we were always responding to and playing off each other. A great mix of reflection, explanation, nostalgia, and even hope!
Pulp Rock. Edited by Alexander Hellene, this is an anthology focusing on pulp-style fiction inspired by music. In it, you will find a novella by myself entitled “Farewell to Once and Future Kings.” It’s about musicians (including a normally illegal AI), who are spies, IN SPACE. There are lots of other great stories in there (I’m reading the book myself right now).
Shadow and Smoke. The third book in my Moonsong series, this book is the conclusion of the first large story arc, where Rone and Charlotte will succeed or fail in their mission to escape the wicked would-be king of Veraland with the help of their pirate friends.
God bless you all.