Catholic author and M.D. Susanna Spencer shared five tips to avoid overuse of social media, drawing on the 4th-century monk Saint John Cassian’s example of temperance.
In an article in the National Catholic Register, Spencer noted that while reading some books in his spare time, he found a passage from the lectures of St. John Cassian that caught his attention.
“I was never able to completely get rid of the incentives to gluttony. Because, although I reduce the amount of food I take to the smallest amount possible, I cannot avoid the force of its daily requests, but must be perpetually ‘bothered’ by it, and make endless payments to continually satisfy it and pay an endless toll to your demand”, indicates the saint.
The writer pointed out that this account of the monk’s battle against gluttony reflects the daily struggle to have self-control in the use of social networks and the Internet.
Spencer indicated that the use of the Internet is essential for work, educating children from home, keeping up with the news, talking with relatives and friends and even for the life of prayer.
For them, in order to form the habit of temperance, he shared these tips:
1. “Fasting” from social media
The writer indicated that Saint John Cassian recommended fasting, vigils, spiritual reading, awareness of the horror of sin and the desire for holiness to overcome gluttony to monks.
Spencer pointed out that this advice can be used for excessive use of the Internet, by fasting from electronic devices for certain days or times and advised “having vigils of nights without Internet, spiritual reading and prayer instead of the use of social networks, trying to from having a distaste for online distractions, but above all building a desire to grow in temperance and holiness.”
“What one does should be based on age, life condition and health. Temperance towards something we use every day requires constant vigilance,” she added.
2. Do not give in to distractions
Spencer indicated that the saint recommended to the monks that “in no case will he be overcome by any delicacy, nor will he take anything to eat or drink before the end of the fast and the appropriate time to refresh himself.”
“Similarly, when one strives to use the Internet well, one must not give in to distractions, one must not use it when the time is not right, and one must avoid even the slightest ‘bite’ of glancing at social media on the Internet. the wrong time,” he added.
3. Don’t use short internet hits as an escape
“In practice, it might be useful to think of using the Internet in the same way that you think of eating. A temperate person doesn’t grab a piece of candy here and there between meals throughout the day, or pick up their phone and check their email, Instagram, Facebook, text messages, etc. every time there is a break in the day”, indicated the writer.
Spencer noted that “even brief but frequent hits on social media dull my mind from living in the present. I use it to slip away from home life and avoid reading and writing.”
“The dullness of my mind seeps into my prayer life. I stop listening to the readings at Mass and I don’t pray as carefully. And that’s when I know it’s become a problem once again,” she added.
4. Use networks for a specific purpose
The writer indicated that to use the Internet it is good to have a “specific purpose” so as not to take “small bites of social networks”, it is good to make “a new plan, a new set of resolutions” and ask God for his help.
Spencer noted that she sets specific times when she uses the networks, like in the mornings to check the weather or urgent mail, or at the end of her work time, where she sets aside “20 to 30 minutes to catch up on email. entertainment, social networks and articles”.
5. Pray for temperance
The writer encouraged prayer for the changes that need to be made to achieve temperance in the use of the Internet, and recalled that Saint John Cassian pointed out that “a reasonable supply of food daily in moderation is better than an intense and prolonged fast at frequent intervals.” ”.
“A reasonable use in moderation will be better for us than a long fast followed by Internet gluttony. So we struggle with the help of grace to find the self-control we need. Let us lift each other up in prayer to grow in the virtue of temperance!” she concluded.