During the pandemic, I became very attached to my phone. With not a lot going on, I spent most of my time on social media. When I wasn’t in adoration or reading my Bible, I was on Snapchat, TikTok or YouTube. As school started, that habit became hard to break. I would go home and, unintentionally, spend hours scrolling through TikTok. Then I would have to stay up late to be able to finish my homework. The worst part was, I broke one of the good habits created during the pandemic. I stopped reading my Bible every day. I became very inconsistent and would start to make excuses to justify it: “I’m just too tired,” “I’ll do it later” and “I can do it tomorrow” became things that I would say to myself and God more and more. I realized that I had a problem, and I felt guilty, but it just kept happening.
No matter how many times I promised God it would be my last time to skip, it just continued. I didn’t and still don’t know why social media has such a pull on me the way it does. It sometimes makes me laugh and cry, but it doesn’t bring me joy and peace. Often, it makes me feel unmotivated, unaccomplished and overall brings me down, which is why it bewilders me why I subconsciously think about getting on social media before I think to read my Bible.
I wish I could say that this is a problem that I have already fixed, but the truth is, I still struggle with it. Part of this struggle comes from the feeling that I don’t want to be left out. As a high school student, having social media is the norm. Half the conversations revolve around what people post, which means that not having social media keeps you out of the loop. I started to get on it more and more because of that same fear, and, eventually, it became a habit. A habit that would lead me to feel this pressure to look, act and dress a certain way. I started to “wish” a lot. I wish I could do that, and I wish I could be more like that, etc. It made me forget that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalms 139: 14)
As time went on and I reflected on my life, I recognized that I hadn’t been putting God above all else as it says to do in Matthew 22:37: “Jesus said to him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
My heart, mind and soul were not as focused on him as they should be. I knew that there had to be changes in my life. I figured out that the best way to focus on him is to step away from my phone and any technology physically.
As I walk my dog around my neighborhood, I am praying and talking to God. This truly helps me feel at peace, and I also appreciate the nature around me. If I decide to take my phone, I love to listen to worship music or the rosary. It’s a great way for me to connect with God while staying active.
One of the other changes that occurred was that I met amazing women who helped keep me accountable. Some are through Youth Advisory Council and some through attending Search #148, a high school youth retreat. They truly helped me open up and relate to them. We all made promises to reach out when we needed encouragement or help. So far, it’s been amazing. Even though we don’t meet in person very often because of the pandemic, sending each other texts and just talking through our problems keeps me motivated.
As I became more active on social media, I lost sight of what was most important to me: God. I let myself be distracted by the world around me, and that, in turn, caused me to drift away from God. I wasn’t prioritizing my relationship with him, and that took a toll on me. I learned that the best way to fix my relationship with him was to step away from my phone and to have people hold me accountable.
Laritza Chena, a senior at Searcy High School, attends St. James Church in Searcy.
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