I decided to go on a facebook vacation recently. And then I felt this huge void in my soul. Well, that might be a little dramatic but I definitely felt like a smoker who reaches for a cigarette only to remember that tough decision to quit. Those addictive little puffs of affirmation, feedback and likes feel like they’ve begun to turn my insides into black goo and distract me from pursuing what I really want from life.
So on my facebook vacation I decided like a smoker that it isn’t enough just to get rid of what I keep coming back to- I need some carrot sticks to replace my habits of scanning my news feed to see what’s happening or thinking of witty updates to post, or getting jealous of the cool things/places/stuff people are have going on. It’s hard to stop something to ask yourself “what am I really looking for that I’m using facebook (or something else) to fill in my life?” And I quickly realized that if I didn’t create some carrot sticks I’d slide into the endless black hole of online shopping for shoes.
I had been contemplating taking a facebook vacation when my latest copy of Fast Company arrived with a six-step plan to digitally detox by their techiest and most plugged in writer Baratunde Thurston arrived. I too could relate to the habits of checking my newsfeed while waking up in bed or before I drift off to sleep. Never mind that in the morning my youngest needs a diaper change and my oldest is on the back deck in his undies pointing out a squirrel- there are pictures of cats to look at! opinions about how bacon should be cooked! profound statements about how tired parents are because of their young kids! And when I intend to go to bed at 11pm suddenly I find myself seeing that it is 45 minutes later and I’m still on twitter or Facebook and kick myself for not getting enough sleep the next day.
It’s also too easy to not engage with my kids, husband or real life friends because (just a minute honey!) I’m posting a picture, reading a blog about something or looking at pictures of how to make a DIY headboard. For now I need to live my life more than post about life. It’s hard to be present and not continue to mentally compose status updates or stage facebook worthy pictures, uhhhh, I mean show how cool and nonchalant my life is while I have an awesomely amazing time as a wife, mom, friend and Cleveland resident.
Though I don’t think facebook/twitter/pinterest…..etc. are a bad thing, it’s easy to let something begin to suck away your time and give it too much time, mental or emotional space. Every once in awhile it’s good to take a little time to digitally detox Anything can do this, even good things. So in quitting facebook for a month or so, I’ve picked up some carrot sticks to help me have a healthier inner world that will serve me as a wife, friend, mom and most importantly Jesus follower. Here are some of the crunchy and delicious things I’ve been enjoying while on my facebook vacay….munch, munch…
Spending more time in scripture. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that it has something new to teach me each time I come back to these eternal words. I’ve been going through 1 Corinthians slowly and prayerfully using an informal method of Lectio Divina. It’s been good to feel like God is giving me a specific word or phrase to challenge or care for me on any give day. I let the kids watch Sesame Street or Pingu downstairs and I spend some time with Jesus on the couch with my coffee upstairs. Even those 10-20 minutes make a huge difference in my day.
Doing science experiments with my kids. We had a blast creating flubber together recently. My boys played with it for a solid two hours- using a straw to blow bubbles, pressing shapes into it, rolling and bouncing it, watching it drip through their fingers slowly. And then Oz put it in his hair which looked really gross but came out easily in the bath.
Reading poetry*. This has been a fantastic way to drift off to sleep at night. I started with what I had in my own library and since I’ve been working on a book about how God uses women to share the message of Jesus I chose Beginning with Mary: Women of the Gospels in Portrait. Poetry is great because it offers a bite-size thoughtful chunk to a given area of life. I’ve also liked Mary Oliver’s Owls and Other Fantasies. She totally puts a bird on it.
*Ok- so I read poetry for about a week before going to sleep. Then I went back to reading Entertainment Weekly before bed. I wrote this post the first week of my facebook vacation- I don’t feel like my insides are turning to black goo anymore but I am feeling more content and mindful how I use social media. How do you manage your time on Facebook? I really enjoy seeing what’s going on in people’s lives and was a little sad I missed some key updates about babies, major moves people were planning and people’s heath. But I did find out about them eventually. I’ll be posting a few other reflections from my Facebook fast in the next couple weeks. Have you done a FB fast? How did it go? For me the first week was the most difficult and then I was like- “oh hey, there are birds flying around, and books to read, and people to talk with :).”
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