There have been times in the past when I’ve thought I should perhaps try to seek out a Facebook Anonymous group (except FB requires you to identify yourself, so I’m not sure how that would work). Anyway, let’s just say that my obsession with FB is probably the reason this blog gets so little attention. I mean, why go through the effort of writing when I can just scroll and “like” & post what other people have written? Where I don’t have to struggle to really express my own thoughts, I just point to someone else and say, “Yeah! What she said! Sort of….” But it’s been obvious for a long time that FB is a problem for me.
I’m not sure what year I started FB, but I remember clearly the day. Daniel was then a young teenager (he’s now almost 22) and he was playing Farmville and needed neighbors to progress. So, I got a FB account and started playing the game. He eventually gave it up and went onto bigger and better games, but I played for a long time giving it and FB more and more of my time and attention. One year I gave them up for Lent because I knew it would be a real sacrifice and that helped me slow down. In fact, most years I have given up FB for Lent. What I’ve found, though, is that it doesn’t take long after Lent is over for me to fall back into my old habits of excessively/obsessively scrolling, even when I’ve read it all already, just in case something new has been posted or will show up in my feed.
I’ve come up with many ideas of how to control my time. For several weeks I had a timer set on my phone that would go off at 9:30 pm to remind me to shut down the computer. Unfortunately, I would shut it off and say, “I just have to finish this post” and, voila! 1:30 am would all of sudden appear on my computer clock. There have also been many times I’ve neglected work or been late because I was writing a post (I didn’t always just re-post). But the two things that have really convicted my heart on this issue have been my spiritual life and my family.
Each one of us has 24 hours in each day. Those hours should be spent doing things worth doing. What defines “worth doing?” Although some things are required (eat & sleep, a job), the rest is up to each one to decide, however I should hope that each one would prioritize God and family above all else. For me, that had gotten badly skewed.
When one struggles to find time for prayer, but not Facebook, that’s a problem. When one gets irritated with the interruptions of the kids because they interfere with following an online conversation, there is something very wrong about that. As a Christian, my first attention is to be given to God. My vocation as wife and mother comes after that and nothing else should usurp fulfilling the responsibilities of my state in life (given me by God).
For a long time I have justified my time on FB by saying that I am staying connected with family and friends. After all, I live in a rather isolated corner of the world and a long way from all of my family. But the reality is that very little of my time is spent keeping up on their lives. It’s mostly re-posting funny or meaningful (to me) memes and videos. Sure, there have been some good things, but mostly it’s just adding more information into my already-over-saturated brain. And although I have friends who see FB as a valuable way to engage in political and spiritual conversations, I have yet to see such conversations make any real difference in people’s lives. Meaningful conversation requires just that–conversation. FB is not conversation.
In the last couple of years it has entered my mind on more than one occasion that the only way this is going to stop is if I delete my account. So what made me finally do it? I guess it was just one night too many going to bed at 2 am for no other reason than I was endlessly scrolling FB. I knew when I saw the time on the clock that it meant I wouldn’t get enough sleep, my personal prayer time would most likely not happen at 6 am as it needs to, and I would be fighting grumpiness and wanting to gorge carbs all day. And then I recalled the wonderful two and half days my daughters and I spent at a convent this past week.
The rhythm of life, the priority of prayer, the work that is done on a regular basis without rushing to constantly “catch up.” The Sisters of St. Francis Dillingham are an active order and many work full-time in healthcare and teaching, yet they accomplish so much because life’s priorities are firmly set and, despite interruptions, they stick to their priorities and eliminate those things that detract from them. One sister has a blog and is on FB, but only for the purpose of the blog. She is careful to be on it as little as necessary for her work.
While I was there I found myself relieved to be without FB or any other online distractions. I checked e-mail and kept my phone with me for texts because my sons were at home juggling job, chores, etc. so the girls and I could go. But I realized as well how weary I am of all the constant information, interruption, and distraction that the internet has become for me. So, as I got out of the shower last night I thought, “I need to deactivate my account. Well, in the morning since I’ve already shut down the computer.” And then I thought, “No. Now.”
As I sat searching FB settings to find where to deactivate, I considered leaving a message up for a couple of days before deleting the account. Then I thought, “No. I need to do this now. Anyone who really needs to keep in contact with me knows where I am. And, besides, an alcoholic doesn’t make the round of the bars announcing he’s going dry to his old drinking buddies. He quits and leaves the lifestyle that contributes to his addiction behind. It’s time to be done.”
And so, FB is now a thing of my past. An interesting thing happened already when I was reading an article from my e-mail. For the first time I realized I was reading it just for the enjoyment of reading it without considering if I should post it. It was rather relaxing, actually.