A short while ago, I saw something on Facebook that was horrific to me. So much, that I turned away looking for something to throw up in. It affected me profoundly and I instantly vowed to stay off Facebook until I knew certain family members were safely home (which will be a few months). I pray for them many times a day, and every time I wonder what I'm "missing" on Facebook, I am reminded of the brutal reality of the world today, and to pray for them more. Kind of a fast.
In the beginning, I found myself picking up my phone and looking at the familiar icon before I remembered not to touch it. I was surprised at how many times each day I did it. It has gradually happened less and less.
But I've made some other discoveries too. I've discovered that, although I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 350-400 "friends" on Facebook, I probably couldn't name 75 of them. And outside of Facebook, I would have no contact with them. People come and go in our lives, we move, they move, and I believe that's by design. God gives us the people we need—or those that need us—in certain seasons of life, and that's okay. We don't have to hang on to every thread of the past. Sometimes we need to let our memories be enough.
I've discovered that I do not lack for encouragement in my life, which indicates my encouragement was not coming from Facebook. So what am I there for? I've always said it's to keep in touch with old friends, see my kids' photos, things like that. And while I think those are valid reasons, the good I get from Facebook is not equal in value to the amount of time I let it suck from my life. (At first I wrote "the amount of time it sucks from my life" but the honest truth is that it only gets the time I give it.)
I've discovered I have forgotten how to communicate. "Like" is not communication. I once read the headline of a post that challenged users to actually leave comments rather than just hit the "like" button, and I think that's a great idea. If we're going to make ourselves slaves to social media, let's at least remember there's a human on the other end who wants to hear words, not just count clicks. What if, instead of giving us his Word, God had just sent a giant, cosmic thumbs-up sign? It's words that give hope and help and comfort. Words that make us laugh and cry and think deeply and express love and worship and admiration. We've forgotten all this in our haste to keep scrolling. When I read the headline of that article, I did not stop to read it through. I didn't have time to stop and be challenged to be a better human, a better "friend."
Ben told me today that tomorrow is his sister Dawn's birthday and my first thought was, "How am I going to wish her a happy birthday?"
Really? I'm embarrassed that I have fallen so far I can't even figure out how to communicate a simple message to my sister-in-law. Before Facebook we had texting. Before that we had cell phones on our person every moment of the day. And before that we had this miraculous contraption that was connected to the wall with wires that carried our voices around the earth, and long ago the handset was connected to that with the curly cord we used to sit and wind around our finger while we talked. Remember that? Sitting still while you talked to someone? Giving them your undivided attention? Not splitting your time between them and the grocery shopping? I kind of miss those days. My mother (80 years old) and my aunt (76) still write letters to each other every week. Nothing earth-shaking or pressing, just sharing their lives and some laughs, but connecting over the miles in a tangible way.
My time away from Facebook will last at least another month or so, and I'm trying to decide what to do about it when I pick it up again. I'd love to hear your thoughts.