Over the past several days I have embarked on a 90-day journey of asceticism. For men, it is called Exodus90, and for women, it’s called Fiat90 or Magnify90 because there is no official program for women. Some of the basic guidelines of the program are no social media, fasting, and abstinence from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, a daily holy hour, daily Mass if possible, monthly confession, no television programs or video games, no unnecessary purchases, at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and 5 days a week of exercise. The whole idea sounded daunting to me, but I was encouraged and inspired by my boyfriend who would be taking the leap with a few of his guy friends. I also had a tugging on my heart to withdraw a bit from social media as I was sensing that there was some toxicity infecting my life which stemmed from the amount of time I spent on it.
My hot take with social media is that we have a lot of Catholic influencers who have not done a good job of being authentic. The posts are over-curated, and we give unsolicited and not well-founded advice to others which is not helpful. We use the influencer trend to build ourselves up and market to others for financial gain. We market ourselves as examples of who people should want to be like versus Jesus who we should all be influenced by. It is rare that you find vulnerability on social media. We only shout our opinions and dig ourselves deeper into our own echo chamber where nothing is challenged. We don’t think about those who may be struggling and would like to hear a real, honest, and authentic experience versus the polished and curated highlight reel that we promote.
Vulnerability is the first step to being authentic. When you are vulnerable you are able to tell the truth whether people like it or not. You’re able to admit your failings and struggles and give real developed experience and advice that has weight to it. You’re also able to have an honest conversation that invites others in because authenticity is attractive. When everything you do is filtered and curated for your target audience, you miss out on real connections and real influence. You lose your uniqueness trying to be everything to everyone and trying to establish clout. Even trying to force vulnerability in order to get “likes” is still inauthentic. We can embrace who we really are without the need for adulation from others.
So while I won’t be back on social media until Easter, I challenge you to assess whether it’s time for a social media break for yourself as well. Or if you are in the influencing category, how can you transform what you post to be an authentic experience for your followers? It’s also a great way to foster your real connections to those around you.