About a year ago, I gave up Facebook for one week. At that time, I admired the sacrifice of one of my Facebook friends who gave up Mark Zuckerberg’s baby for Lent. I wished I could do so, but I was not strong enough.
This year, when Lent rolled around, I knew the time had come. My 40 days without FB would have to commence. (Little known factoid: Lent is actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter – six and a half weeks – because Sundays were not included in the original calculation.)
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what prompted my original decision to give up Facebook for Lent. There are many reasons. Several of them are the same as when I gave up FB for a measly week last year – to accomplish more around the house, to read more, to exercise more and to pay more attention to my son.
What I do plan to delve into are the lessons I have learned from going without Facebook for six-plus weeks. And, along the way, you will probably gain some insights about what set this journey into motion in the first place.
1.) Facebook feeds my “important complex.” See my previous blog entitled “Identity crisis at the office” to get the background on what that means. Basically, as ridiculous as this sounds and as pathetic as I may appear, I used to feel important when FB friends would leave lots of comments on my statuses or photos. As in, “I’m important today; I’ve got 11 notifications!” As Jillian Michaels would say, “REALLY? I mean, really?”
2.) Facebook tempts me to share information that is not suitable for 333 of my “friends” to know. I’m usually pretty good about controlling this. I do not and would never share personal information on FB, particularly if I’ve not first told my family and my closest friends. My dad, who is vehemently opposed to Facebook and anything else that is based on people sharing personal information on the Internet, recently asked me, “Why does everyone want to know when you’re on vacation or what you ate for dinner or what your day at work was like?” This got me thinking. Why do we find it interesting to know these things about others? And, why do I care what my “friends” are doing every minute of their days? You know what I realized by giving up Facebook for six weeks? I don’t care as much as I thought I did. So, that could mean my “friends” don’t think the nuances in my life are that interesting either.
3.) Facebook evokes envy. This is me being completely transparent and real. Sometimes I look at Facebook friends’ photos and posts with envy. I wish I owned a large, beautiful, modern house. I would like all my furniture to coordinate perfectly. I want to earn my master’s degree. On and on and on. Do any of those things really matter? No. Going back to my “identity crisis” blog, none of those things defines me or has any spiritual significance. But, sometimes those thoughts creep in, and I do harbor envy. Facebook can make us depressed if we let it.
4.) I am an abstainer. Thanks to my friend Robin’s suggestion to read Gretchen Rubin’s April 6 blog post – “Quiz: Are You a Moderator or an Abstainer When Trying to Give Something Up?” – I discovered that it’s much easier for me to give up something if I go completely cold turkey. Prime example: Facebook. For months I tried to limit my time on Facebook to, say, a half hour per evening after putting Elliot to bed. Ha. That never worked. But, when I abstained entirely from FB, I did not miss it. I am actually much happier without Facebook in my life. I realized that I have a similar mentality with food. I am not tempted by foods that I have labeled as “hands off.” Tell me to eat only one square of a chocolate bar, however, and you can kiss the entire thing good bye. If it’s there, I will eat it. Same way with Facebook. Let me log on, and I get sucked in.
Since signing back in to Facebook on Easter, I have not looked at my newsfeed. No offense to any of my friends, but I sort of feel like I’m over reading all the details of their lives. And, I hope they’re over reading mine because I don’t feel like posting any right now. I did post pictures, some of them from important events that my Facebook friends missed during the fast. Three that may be worth mentioning are registering my baby for preschool on March 14 (It doesn’t actually start until September), becoming the godmother to the child of two of my dearest, oldest friends on March 20 and signing up Elliot to play T-ball on April 1.
Did other stuff happen? Of course, but with the aforementioned revelations, those things are either not worth caring about or too personal.
If you are one of my Facebook friends and you enjoy sharing every detail of your days and reading mine, that’s cool. I’m not judging. Do I think Facebook can be useful for seeking parenting tips or putting out prayer requests? Absolutely. What about sharing our children’s funny sayings? The comment that appeared most on my FB wall when I entered my “giving up Facebook for Lent” status was “I’ll miss hearing your Elliot stories!” The effect of social media on our children is yet to be seen, I think.
All that said, for me – in my life and even in my walk with God – I had to say enough is enough. There may be a day soon when my Facebook page is nonexistent. It is extremely tempting to delete my account completely. But, then I think, how would you know when I’ve posted a new blog?
Originally published on ovparent.com.