What I Learned During My Social Media Vacation

With the Holy Spirit's prompting - and the grace of God abounding - I gave up Facebook and Twitter during December so that I could focus on the Incarnation and prepare my heart for Christmas. I didn't think I devoted an inordinate amount of time to social media; however, when I announced my intention to my girl and her response was something akin to "Good. You need to given them up.", I knew I needed the break more than I cared to admit. I had already stopped posting anything in this little spot for the final months of 2013. Limited blogging at Out of the Ordinary, permanently paring down my feed reader to precious few, and saying no to Facebook and Twitter has taught me some valuable lessons.

~Absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. While there may have been a few who felt my absence, I imagine that I was, for the most part, forgotten. Not that I blame anyone; it's the nature of the social media beast.

~Social media friends aren't always friends. I have made some wonderful friends online. Some I've hugged in person and some I've only seen through a computer screen. I keep in touch with many of them outside of Facebook and Twitter. Before I took my sabbatical, I purged my Facebook friend list by approximately 20%. Not one person I "un-friended" seemed to notice, although, to be fair, I guess some of them could have been too angry or hurt to contact me. Still, I don't imagine it was a big deal, which has given me a new perspective on my own importance (or, more accurately, unimportance).

I have to admit that it hurt- just a little bit - to realize that in all likelihood, I was not missed. Which is probably a good indicator that I really needed this break!

~Being more present in my 3D life is infinitely better than being present online.  Not logging on "for just a few minutes" each morning, gives me time to do little things my family appreciates and makes my evenings at home smoother.

~Giving up social media is a detoxification process. By the grace of God, I've never had to detox from alcohol or drugs; however, I think I got a little taste of what it must be like (on a much smaller scale). The first few days, when I was resolute, were easy. The next few, when I realized how much I relied on my social media "fix", were really difficult. There were ups and downs the entire time.

~Social media doesn't easily unclench its grasp. Even though I wasn't logging on to Facebook or Twitter, I got emails telling me how many notifications I had, or how many people had tweets for me (and this, when my notifications were turned off!). Ah, the temptation!

I also have to admit that on one occasion I gave in to temptation and logged into Facebook for no specific purpose other than to see what was going on in the virtual world (there were times I used Facebook to communicate private messages, but didn't read anything else).  10 -15 minutes later, I realized how easy it is to get sucked into the social media web and lose track of time.

~I gave too much mental energy to social media. Staying away from the latest hot topics and the overload of information freed my mind to narrow its focus and linger on the books and blog posts I did read. Consequently, my thoughts are no longer bite-sized. I've been able to mediate more fully on the Word of God and the words of others. I also found I have more energy to invest in 3D relationships.

~I gave too much attention to social media and its associated drama. Being ignorant of the theological controversy du jour diminished my critical spirit.  By the same token, reducing my exposure to celebrity pastors gave me a deeper appreciation for my pastor and the faithfulness and quietness in which he serves.

~I let social media have an unhealthy impact on my life. I beat myself up with comparisons and felt guilty for not measuring up to the standards set by other women in their parenting, home keeping, and marriages. I spent too much time trying to change myself and my family. I have learned much from other women - and have even more to learn - but I have to guard my heart against discontentment in these areas.

~I really do love words.  Although I devoted most of my social media time to genuinely good words (i.e. encouraging tweets, status reports, and links), I had become mired down in all the words, words, WORDS. Even good things need to be taken in moderation.

And so, these are the lessons I learned. I don't share them here because I believe anyone else needs to learn them (though I pray this is an encouragement to others who may read), and certainly not to disparage social media or anyone who uses it. I am returning to Facebook and Twitter - hopefully, with a new perspective and more limitations. If time were an unlimited commodity, I wouldn't think twice about the amount I spend online because there is a lot of good in social media. I want to choose the better part.

May it be so, Lord. May it be so.
 




Comments

  1. I missed you so much! So thankful for you, dear sister!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your lessons. I didn't go cold turkey but I drastically reduced my computer time over Christmas when we were away. I noticed I was able to concentrate better while reading and doing other tasks.

    Welcome back.

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  3. Excellent observations. I've found many of the same things to be true in my life and time (or lack thereof) on the internet. One thing I noticed from my time offline is that I read more books when I'm not spending time online. Thanks for sharing and blogging! I'm glad we're friends.

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  4. Great observations Melissa - I've found the same thing. I never had the discipline to just stay away from FB so I deleted my personal acct completely - I was able to keep my FB page for my blog but it's not a distraction because there's no interaction or news feed except from other fb pages that share quotes and links. I haven't missed fb at all - and find I that I can read blogs more thoughtfully now that my Internet time isn't so divided. And communication with friends definitely doesn't have to end after Facebook. :)

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  5. I love the wisdom of this post. And yes, you WERE missed! Welcome back!

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  6. This is very interesting to read through. Every time I take a break from FB I realize how much time I spent on there and how much time I "suddenly" have for other things. I also think I think too much of myself by being on it (as a general rule) as that was teh same thing I discovered when I pared down my friends listing.

    I think it has to be different for different people. But our sermon on Sunday was about needing to stay focused on Christ and removing obstacles to our view of Him and I know that I know that I know Facebook is an obstacle. It's just that I LIKE it.

    Anyway...that to say this is an ongoing struggle in my head and heart and I appreciated reading through this post and hearing what you learned during the month of December. When, yes, I DID notice that you weren't there and saw that you were going to take a break and wondered what your experience would be!

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  7. Just now catching up with you blog! Happy New Year! I am weening myself off social media (FB and Instagram). My first step was to delete people I follow or am friends with and now I'm trying to just stop checking it more than once a day and hope to pare that down even more. I am like you - I get so frustrated over things I read (people's reaction or non-reaction to something) and honestly, it's mostly my homeowner's association and relatives that I don't even get along with IRL! eek! And why don't I just stop reading altogether? THAT'S the question. I do keep up with some people via FB and enjoy that contact -- or otherwise there would be none, probably. Which is also a problem. Enjoying reading your journey and I off to check your reading list. Hugs!

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