Monday, February 10, 2014

Just saying "no" to facebook (for 3 weeks)

I've been realizing for quite awhile that I've been spending entirely too much time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and to a lesser extent, Twitter. However, after we moved to California, my habit got worse. Facebook was a life line back to KY. We had no connections to the Bay Area other than a few people Jeremy had met through Twitter. Facebook really helped me cope by allowing me to post fun photos of the family in a completely new "vacation-like" setting. Then, I could look forward to reading many affirming, positive comments from our friends and family back home. Our closest friends and family were wondering how we were doing and this was an easy, convenient way to communicate. No problem with that at all--in moderation.

Fast forward to six months later and now we have built up a community of people from church, preschool, MOPS, neighbors, etc. Our relationships are still in the early stages, but it's not like we are completely alone out here anymore. However, the Facebook habit is a difficult one to shed. If I have a free moment, a waiting moment, a dull moment, or just want to finish reading the latest and greatest "shared" on-line article, it is all too easy to pick up my phone and do it. I really have no idea how many times I quickly checked my phone a day. Dozens, I'm sure. I didn't know how to limit myself. Check it once an hour? Once or twice a day? But what about when I'm just bored and waiting in-line somewhere? Was there anything wrong with that? I didn't have an answer and I didn't have the desire to do an "intervention" for myself.

During the last couple of weeks at church, Pastor Ryan encouraged us to devote the next three weeks to focused prayer for the church. (Nothing bad is going on. In fact, it is an exciting time in the life of our church.) He encouraged us to pray and fast. Fasting could be a literal fasting as in giving up food in some way or it could be fasting from something that is taking up too much of our time or having a negative influence in our lives. (Aha moment.) Facebook would be the perfect thing for me to give up for a time. Even knowing that I needed a break, I still really had a hard time deciding what to do. Give up Facebook only? All social media? What about the internet? Well, I decided to fast just from Facebook and Twitter. I've allowed myself to continue using Instagram because it has not taken up much of my time. I have kept the number of people I follow on Instagram quite low so that I can scroll through single photo images in less than a minute. Also, I have found Instagram to be less negative to my psyche.

Here's the deal with how Facebook affects me at times. I often check Facebook when I'm at home and not doing anything special. So, when you're not doing anything, there's a pretty good chance that at least one of your hundreds of friends has something awesome to share. Maybe they are sharing the ubiquitous "Date night!" photo. Or maybe it's their latest vacation. Or the fabulous meal they are about to eat. Or the beautiful room they just redecorated. Or a photo or quote from their super smart, talented, cute kid.  Whatever it is, it often can hit you at a low moment and then make you feel, "less than." It is hard to put an emotion on how it can make me feel. I don't think it is envy. I am glad to see my friends and family happy and doing well. I don't begrudge them nice vacations or date nights or beautiful homes. I guess it can just make me ask, "Am I measuring up to my peers? Am I where I SHOULD be at this stage in my life? Am I living my life to the fullest?" Then, it can be hard to confront those answers. Some of the time I don't like where my thoughts drift. Then it is a short step away from DISCONTENTMENT.

And this my friends, is why I am giving up Facebook for the next three weeks. I do not want this tool of communication to breed discontentment in my life. I want to focus more on being grateful for what I have. The ironic thing is that many of my friends have commented about my life and that they love to see the "adventures" we are living. (Numerous people have actually said these exact words to me.) After these three weeks are over, I'm not sure how to put better limits on my use of social media. I hope that I can figure out a good plan because I do enjoy communicating and sharing with people, but there's a real negative side, too.

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