Giving up Facebook for Lent (mostly)

12 Apr

February 18th, Ash Wednesday I posted this on facebook:

Dear everybody.
I have been here, scrolling facebook though I haven’t been posting much. But here’s the thing, it can so easily be a vortex for my time and energy. So, for my Lenten practice, I’m spending 10 minutes or less on facebook a day. If you have a birthday between now and Easter, I might miss it, if something exciting happens, I might miss it too. If I take a cool picture I might post it. But I still love you and hope that if there is anything you really want to share with me that you’ll reach out in a non-facebook way.
I intend to spend my time more intentionally and to have the space to discover what the things to spend my time on truly are. I’m open to where the path takes me.
Happy journey and much love,
Ra

Now it’s a week after Easter and though I have plenty of other things to put my attention on, I felt the need to share something on my experience. Let me start by saying that I like Facebook. I like that I can keep up with and cheer on my friends and their kids from afar. I appreciate that I know when important things are going on in the lives of people I care about and I have to opportunity to offer congratulations or support.

There are some things I don’t like about it too. That just as it’s all too easy to share information, it’s just as easy to share mis-information and say things our filters might catch if we were in person. It’s easy to pick up the phone/tablet/computer and endlessly scroll to tune out of whatever is going on around us. I tire of the cartoon pics with sarcastic sayings on it them, post this to prove you really care about ___, and to a lesser extent the inspirational quotes.

So I decided to just get on facebook to check my notifications and some top stories each day. Finally I found the top stories algorithm doing something useful! And you know what? I liked it. I took back my time, and not only that, I feel like I took back part of my mind too. That’s not to say that I spent all my time doing something heroic. I did a bunch of math refreshing on Khan Academy. I read some books, I got ready for and did some preaching, I traveled to Oregon and California with my sister and husband. But there was no urgency to post the great pics I just took to facebook, or see what others were up to. I just was. I was present in the moment. I didn’t post my vacation pics til Easter, which was 5 days after we got back. Something in me wanted to keep it precious and sacred, a shared experience of the people who were there. When I did share the pics, that was great too. But I did it on my schedule, not some socially expected norm that I have in the past accepted as required.

Now when I mentioned how great it was to free myself from the facebook habit to several folks of an older generation than mine, they kind of poo pooed it, saying oh yes, you young people and your technology, like we are the only ones throwing our time and energy down a black hole. Later my mind flashed to the living rooms of countless parent and grandparent (to me) aged folks that I had visited in my lifetime. A large percentage had a television on, a large percentage of the time. Maybe no one was watching it, maybe they were glued to it. Just saying we’re not the only ones.

Robert Brumet, beloved Unity Institute and Seminary professor and unofficial pastoral/spiritual guru for Unity, gave a keynote at the annual Lyceum this weekend. He said that we are in a culture of distraction. That we often don’t take the time to see or notice what is happening around us. I completely agree. It is so easy now to use screens to keep us from being present where and when we are. I’m not saying some level of escape to relax is a bad thing, if scrolling facebook helps you decompress the day, scroll on. But where is the balance point, where facebook or videos or whatever become the thing we’re putting more time on than the things we say actually matter to us. Our relationships, our health, our community.

It is not new that I am particular about what shows and movies I watch and what music I listen to. I know that my ability to be present, loving, and compassionate is related to my environmental inputs. My personal belief is that this is true for everyone, but some have much higher tolerance to crappy input because of a lifetime of exposure (and probably have crappy output, but that’s another blog).

Many of my friends would say that they are part of the movement to raise the consciousness of the planet. So I challenge you, dear reader, to consider what that means to you. Consider the inputs in your world. Consider where you place your time and energy. Consider if what you are doing is raising up yourself, someone else, and/or the world or doing the opposite. If we truly believe that we can change the world through how we show up and who we are, let’s think about what thoughts and beliefs are spending time in our noggins.

That’s not to say you can’t sing the blues, listen to an angsty country song, or watch a chick flick/action movie now and then, I certainly do, but for me, I just can’t hang out there anymore. I am honored to stand with you in the realness of your pain and sorrow, but I am taking back my emotional state from the media. I do not turn a blind eye to the real issues and trials facing our society, but I’m interested in productive solutions.

I’m not quitting facebook, I think that it still serves a purpose in my world. However I’m drawing a line in the sand. It’s what works for me, I write because maybe what I am getting clear on will be helpful to you. The answers are within you, therefore I encourage you to give your mind spaciousness to hear them.

Hugs,

Ra

PS, Here’s a sunset that I enjoyed with my husband with no posting in real time while in Oregon

Simpson Reef Sunset

Simpson Reef Sunset

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2 Responses to “Giving up Facebook for Lent (mostly)”

  1. snmabin April 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    I needed this reminder. I keep installing and uninstalling my Facebook app, and I’m so much more involved with the real world when it’s uninstalled. I wish I could have an auto-install option for weekends… And then it takes itself off my phone on Monday mornings!

    • preacherchick April 13, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

      I tuned the notifications off, that helped alot

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