First of all, I love Facebook. I do not think that Facebook represents the decline of civilization, the root of all evil, or the single most likely factor to destroy our children. I love Facebook! Facebook is fun and I have had a blast getting in touch with childhood friends, spying on my teenagers, finding out the latest news, looking at pictures and generally plugging in to my culture through this new phenomenon of social media. During the recent snowstorm here on the East Coast, FB was a fabulous way of connecting and commiserating while we were all stuck in our houses….even when our power was out, many of us went on FB on our phones! It was fun to see everyone’s snow pictures, to share our snow totals with friends in warmer climates, and to generally stay connected with my community. I did not decide to take a break from Facebook because I think Facebook is bad. Furthermore, I do not think everyone else, or for that matter, anyone else should give up Facebook for Lent. In fact, I have no opinion whatsoever about your relationship with Facebook.
So why then, you ask (at least one of you,) did I decide to take a break from Facebook during this season of Lent? It’s really none of your business.
Just kidding!! I chose to inform my Facebook friends of my “status” for Lent so that noone would take it personally if I don’t respond to their friend request, their comment, their awesome pictures, their inspirational message or any other overtures of interaction that may be directed my way. Before I disappeared, I thought I would alert anyone who checks their Newsfeed every day JUST to see what I am doing 🙂 Since you (Neil) are interested, here is why.
In my Protestant background, the observance of Lent is largely left up to the individual. We are not required to observe any particular dietary restrictions and noone really talks that much about “giving something up” for Lent. In my church, the youth actually tend to take the lead on the discussion and observance of Lent. Their media fast during Lent last year actually gave me the idea of “fasting” from Facebook this year. In past years, I have been more likely to add a spiritual discipline during Lent, rather than give something up.
For me, Lent is about preparing for the re-birth and renewal of the Resurrection. As Easter approaches, I like to take inventory of where I am in my journey with the Lord. What is working as I seek to hear His voice and see His glory in my day to day life? What gets in the way of me seeing Him at work? My experience tells me that where there is lack of peace in my life, it is there that there may also be a lack of obedience. What spiritual disciplines bring His will and word into greater focus…prayer, study, sabbath rest, worship, fellowship? And where have I blurred that vision with distractions that draw my gaze elsewhere? Am I missing opportunities to be a blessing because I am rushing through my life with my spiritual eyes shut?
As I consider those questions, I naturally had to consider how I use my time. Because I do not work outside the home, I have a large degree of flexibility in how I plan my days. Taking care of my family, fulfilling my volunteer obligations, serving in my church, spending time with friends can all be done in the order and with the priority that I choose. Because of that, I often find myself “working” without any clear deadlines. It is awfully easy for me to get distracted by things that, if I thought about it, are not a priority for me. And that brings us back to Facebook.
Facebook, FOR ME, is a huge time waster (re-read my first paragraph if that statement causes your to feel defensive or protective of FB.) FOR ME, much of what I do on Facebook is useless. While I love connecting with my friends, I have to honestly admit that 75% of the time that I am logged into my Facebook account is primarily a vehicle for procrastination…again, FOR ME. Checking the FB newsfeed numerous times a day has become a habit that is no longer about community or connection, but rather a way of putting off folding the laundry, paying the bills or other mundane tasks that I may be putting off. And FOR ME, that procrastination contributes to me feeling too busy, too rushed, and spread too thin when that really isn’t the case at all. So time management is one reason I am taking a break from Facebook.
The second reason is really more important. FB, FOR ME, can serve as a shortcut for my attempts to meet really important needs in my life…ways in which I take care of my emotional and spiritual well-being. Because I don’t work in an office and my kids are gone all day, I am alone a great deal of the day. I have my afternoons at the Lamb Center and occasional meetings with church committees or school obligations, but I spend a lot of time alone. Alone is good…sometimes. I think sometimes I go on Facebook to connect to friends and find fellowship when what I really need to do is call a friend to meet for coffee or lunch. FOR ME, it is like being really hungry and choosing to eat a candy bar instead of sitting down for a healthy meal…it satiates the hunger for the short term, but it doesn’t really provide much nutrition. Yes, FB can be part of community, but it can’t become a substitute for community. It is a shortcut, a quick fix for my need to connect to friends, for my need to share my thoughts through my writing, for my need to see into my children’s world. Disconnecting from FB for a while is my way of choosing to do my connecting face to face during this Lenten season. Face to face with my family, face to face with my friends, face to face with myself through more writing, and face to face with God through more study and prayer.
My blog automatically posts to FB, so many of you may actually be reading my ramblings on FB and I love that!! And I still get all my FB email updates, so I am not completely cut off. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments about your relationship with Facebook…what are the good things you get from Facebook and what are the not-so-good things? Also, what are the ways that you observe Lent that you find most meaningful?
Steve Tucker says
I think that is awesome and I can appreciate all that you describe. Your commitment to the Lord is inspiring and demonstrates a desire to know Him more. May God Bless you through this and draw you closer to Him.
I figured you had a good reason ;)but its nice to hear it articulated as clearly as you have. It’s also nice to see you blogging!
Lisa Willey says
Your blog brought tears to my eyes. Since I don’t work, I too use facebook to avoid doing those things I should be doing in my home. More importantly, you opened my eyes to the fact that I am also using FB to try to desperately cling to and feel connected to my former life and friends in TX when I should be reaching out and trying to make friends here in KS too. I love your candy bar analogy. You are right on! This move (for Clark’s job) has been so hard, not only because it is out of state, but also, it came at the exact time that my youngest went off to college. Want to talk about “alone”?!?!? I know I won’t give up FB, but I am definitely going to strive for some balance… maybe even pick up the phone and invite someone to lunch! 🙂
Delta Love (heehee),
Christy Machulski says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being an inspiration to other moms who have that flexibility in their schedule and struggle to find a good balance. I am attaching a link my mom sent me that started my Lent off reflectively! http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=f296337552&view=att&th=126dc37e325139fe&attid=0.1&disp=attd&zw
Peace during Lent and always,
Lisa Oldakowski says
I thoroughly enjoyed this blog entry and support your effort to choose a fast that effects so many areas of your life in such a positive way :). I too gave up facebook “use and abuse” for the lenten season (On Ash Wednesday, and I just found your entry today on St. Patty’s Day!) because of personal time management problems and a lack of emotional and spiritual peace in my heart. While there has been a definite downside to removing myself from the FB cyber community (missing out on status updates of interest, photo posts, etc…) I have felt so much more balanced this past month, and my relationship with the Lord has grown to a new level.
And as weird as this may sound…I’m actually sleeping soooo much better because I’m having more downtime at night before bed! Cheers to that alone!
I’m doing the same right now, and I’ve been wondering if my blog posting to facebook was the same thing as being on facebook. Like, maybe I should keep the insights to myself?
Jen, I think you have to decide what your reasons are for the FB fast and then decide if posting from your blog supports or undermines your goals. It’s funny that you should comment today (a year after I wrote this blog initially.) I am wondering today if I should do this type of fast again.
It’s late, and I’m up…so tempted to get on Facebook, but reading your blog inspired me to not cave. Thanks Kelly. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m ready to just try some new things and use my time wisely.