I love Facebook. I love the way it helps me connect with old friends I don’t see on a regular basis. I love the way it helps me connect with friends I do see on a regular basis. I love how easy it is to share pictures, or to let people know on those rare occasions when I blog.
I love how I can ask something like, “Give me advice for traveling with my kids,” or “What’s a good book I should read next?” or “How can I keep my toddler entertained?” or “What’s a good handwriting curriculum for my preK/K student?” and instantly perspectives start pouring in that would probably take weeks to gather in person.
I like to think I have lots of intelligent friends with a variety of perspectives, and I confess my main way of keeping up with the news is by reading what they post. I love clicking on the links to different articles, and I think I get a more thoughtful analysis than I might by turning on the TV every evening. I don’t know, that’s just my guess.
But this is the second year in a row I’m taking Lent off Facebook, because there are some of my Facebook habits that I don’t love.
I don’t love that when things get crazy around the house, usually precisely at the moment when I should be the most busy handling those dishes in the sink or starting on dinner or whatever, Facebook can be my escape. When my kids get to be feeling like too much, Facebook can be my dose of adult conversation—but sometimes that means that right when my child really needs me to listen to them or train them or hug them, I’m on Facebook instead, taking a quick break from my reality and telling them not to bother me.
I don’t love how being on Facebook can tempt me to compare myself with other people or fear their opinions. If I get on Facebook when I’m feeling low and having a bad day, chances are it’s just the moment when one of my friends is having a great day and decided to post about it. By 9 a.m. her kids may be in gorgeous outfits helping her bake cookies, while I need to do some serious cleaning before I can see my kitchen counter, and I’m wondering where my toddler put her pants and why she’s not in pajamas like the rest of us. In reality, our two families may be pretty similar, just experiencing different moments right then. But Facebook is the place where we all tend to put our best faces on, and not necessarily the best place to get empathy and true fellowship.
I don’t love how I sometimes think in Facebook statuses, as if I need to tell all my opinions and complaints to hundreds of friends, as if a feeling or event is not real until it’s published or validated by an online community. I’ve become more aware of this by doing foster care—so much of what I feel and experience, some of the sweetest pictures I take, I can’t share online. Facebook can guess, but it doesn’t really know the highlights (or low points) of my last year.
I don’t love how I get on Facebook at night like it should be relaxing to sit at my desk, stare at the screen, scroll down my newsfeed, and clink on different links. It might be valuable, but to me it’s not a relaxing way to end the day.
One of the perks of being off Facebook, for me, is that now in the evening, I relax into a comfortable chair, with a blanket, a mug of hot tea or a glass of red wine, and a good book. There is something infinitely more relaxing about reading one long thing than trying to read a hundred little things. I’ve read some good books over the last several weeks, too.
Why: The Question that Never Goes Away by Phillip Yancey about suffering and the Christian worldview.
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist—a beautiful string of recipes and personal narratives.
The Refiner’s Fire series—not the best fiction ever, but three very interesting and fairly well-written books set during the Civil War.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty—a tender and hilarious novel I raced through. I don’t know why I haven’t heard of it before; it had me laughing and crying.
Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle—I don’t buy personality types completely, but this is a helpful book to understand and honor the three very different child personalities I have under my roof.
Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray—another endearing novel about a family in crisis.
I know this list is a bit imbalanced toward fiction. I admit that things feel so serious and sad sometimes that a fun story at bedtime is just … nice. I hope that’s not too escapist. Technically I have absolutely no time to read, but I’ve found my battle with insomnia goes much better when I take about an hour to relax before bedtime. Some evenings Ben and I spend watching a show together, though not so often now that Downton Abbey and Sherlock seasons are over. Sniff. Once Upon a Time just doesn’t measure up and is quickly losing any appeal it had to me. We’re definitely on the hunt for recommendations for a good show to follow, as long as it’s nothing disturbing or thought-provoking enough to keep me awake. I know, how lame is that?
Another benefit from being off Facebook is that I am more motivated to connect with people in other ways. I’m an introvert who loves regular company with people, and when I’m not getting my Facebook fix, I find myself emailing more, sending someone a text to see how they’re doing, getting together for a playdate, talking on the phone, whatever. I think being on Facebook can make us feel that our quota of “meaningful interaction with other adults” has been filled when maybe it actually hasn’t, and maybe I need a good 1-on-1 conversation with someone.
All of which to say, I’m looking forward to getting back on Facebook on Easter, and maybe I’ll even post pictures of us in nice Easter outfits, though I kind of doubt I’ll get my act together enough. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple pregnancy announcements and thoughtful articles about the Ukraine and opinions about the movie Noah and other interesting comment threads. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of comments about how unbelievably cold it’s been and how nice this first real week of spring feels.
I hope I can somehow get what I love from Facebook and skip what I don’t love. One of these days I’ll probably just quit Facebook (or whatever comes after it) and my kids will roll their eyes and say, “Mo-om,” because I’m so completely out of touch, so happy and relaxed and enjoying connecting with local people that I’ve missed the latest thing online, but that’s okay.