Some time last year, I did a week-long purposeful fast from everything online (except for e-mail), and as I went through the week, I wrote down the things I was noticing. Recently I found that list and thought I’d share it with you.
Here’s what I noticed:
I’m alone with my thoughts again.
I’m able to THINK, free from distraction.
I have so much more time for ordinary things… paying bills, writing a thoughtful e-mail rather than only “to-the-point” e-mails.
IT IS HARD to do *some* things online (e-mail, etc) but not get sucked into more (blogging/FB/etc.)
My spirit is more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I’m not under constant distraction.
IT IS EASY to find time for Bible Study.
My attention span is severely diminished since starting Facebook.
My book reading is severely diminished since starting Facebook.
I’m enjoying “found time.”
Eventually: Reading books again, having a regular quiet time again, writing letters by hand.
I have more ENERGY.
Reading back through that list, I’m struck with one question:
WHY NOT GIVE UP FACEBOOK ALL THE TIME?
Those seem like REALLY excellent benefits. Don’t they?! Every single thing on the list is a GREAT thing. So why not give it up all the time?
Nonetheless, Facebook is not something I’m willing to completely get rid of.
At least not yet. Even though we sometimes do extreme things when we believe God is leading us, in things like this, I’m much more of a wait… learn… pursue moderation sort of gal.
There are reasons why I got on Facebook. And although they’ve evolved over the years… they haven’t ultimately gone away:
- When I got on Facebook, I lived far away from extended family, so Facebook was a way for me to share photos and basic life news. That is still the case. I use my personal page as a way to share things that are personal for me– sometimes pictures, sometimes thoughts & ideas. But I’m currently using my personal FB page in that same, basic way.
- When I got on Facebook, I saw it as a way to have adult-level conversations from time to time, while still (primarily) being a mom in my home. That is still the case, although one thing that has changed is that back then, I was moving (on average) every year. Thus, my community was shifting, or changing entirely, every few years. Now, we are settled in one place, and I’m finding that my best conversations happen in real life, with the people here around me who know me and my life.
- When I started my Facebook author page, it was a way to share articles I’ve written, and articles I’ve read. This furthers an ongoing-conversation about ideas with the specific people who have opted into that conversation. I don’t want to spam personal acquaintances, my school teachers, relatives, or old high school buddies with my thought process about following God as a Christian woman. The author page was — and STILL IS — my way to let people opt into that conversation.
- When I got on Facebook, I saw it as an opportunity to regularly keep up with people I care about. This is the one thing that’s changed for me. I have found that Facebook turns into a problem area if/when I start acting as if irregular & far-off relationships can be daily/regular ones. To combat this faulty thinking, I unfollowed everyone, so that when I use Facebook to catch up on someone, it is much more like an occasional “check-in” to peek on that person’s life. When I do that, I’ll often scroll for quite some time, “like” and comment on several items on their wall, before moving on. I get a picture of that person’s life, and (because I’m leaving comments & evidence), they know I’ve spent time thinking about them and catching up. It feels more special to me– like a quick chat I’ve intentionally had with that person. A little less like consumption, and a little more like connection.
THE PROS & CONS OF UNFOLLOWING
So I recently quit “following” people on Facebook, and that has been freeing.
- I feel less pressure to know everything. If someone tells me something, I can be surprised without feeling guilt. The truth is: I can’t know everything about everyone anyway. My life and my brain doesn’t have room for all that information. Unfollowing was a good way to openly admit that.
- My mind is more free. I am not seeing people’s random life details. In any other century, I would not know these things about most people. I like the freedom that comes with not seeing all my friends’ random daily happenings. Yeah, I miss some mildly- or wildly- funny stuff sometimes, but my mind and heart are freer for the people right here in front of me.
- I feel more freedom to engage in the process of inquiry and discovery with friends. When you aren’t connecting with a friend on Facebook, conversation doesn’t just start and stop with, “did you see the pictures from…” or, “did you see that comment about….”
BUT there is a downside too.
- I miss hearing big news at the time “everyone else” does. When a friend gets engaged, or when a friend gets diagnosed with cancer, if you’re not actively tuned in on Facebook, you can miss hearing about it, or seem insensitive without even realizing it. For me, this is worth the other “PROS”, but it is a cost of choosing to unfollow.
IN THE COMMENTS:
Have you ever fasted from Facebook? Or significantly changed your usage habits?
If so, what did you do, and what did you learn?