Monday, January 26, 2015

The Anti-Social Network?

John Piper

   That quote has always made me uncomfortable.  I've even posted it on facebook a few times, and made other people uncomfortable.  "Ouch"...  was a common response.  
   One of my new years resolutions this year was do go without facebook for an entire year.  I've been struggling with my on-again, off-again relationship with the social network for some time now.  After much prayerful consideration, I decided that it was best to take a set time to take a break and pray about it.  Its been a heavy conviction of mine for a few years now...  so I really just wanted to be settled in my heart about whether or not facebook was for me.  A new year seemed like an excellent time to make such a resolution.  

   For the first couple of weeks I was away from facebook, it was great.  I really enjoyed being away from the social site, and didn't care one bit about it.  I really didn't even give it a second thought.  Then..   my hubby signed up for facebook.  
  It's amazing how quickly it can suck you in!  At first, you are just 'checking in' on friends..  and one friends leads to another, before you know it, you've spent an hour just reading status updates and looking at pictures!  Facebook wastes SO much precious time!  For about a week, I allowed myself to be drawn back into the social networking world.  I didn't have a profile of my own, but I spent time browsing his.  When he came home and sat down to check his facebook, he would tell me to watch this video..  look at this status update...  I would end up taking his phone when he was done so I could browse myself.  Its amazing how much facebook you can miss in just a few weeks.  One day the weather was cold and the roads were getting 'bad'..  we sat forever reading updates, about the accidents that were happening and the ever worsening conditions.  Surprisingly, thirty minutes after I left the house, the world that had been painted on facebook of the winter wonderland seemed like an entirely different world than the one I was actually in..  which was actually not that bad, but then again- facebook is known to be exaggerating, of everything.
    For about a week, I checked facebook daily.  I was entirely well aware when my husband was using it...  although I missed coming in my room to see him sitting on the bed with a book and his reading glasses, I was just as drawn to that world of social media as he was, so I just ignored it.  Occasinally I would be all 'judgy'...  telling him he was addicted, asking him to put it down and participate in real life...  ignoring my own desire and urges to be completely 'plugged in' to the social media.  Whenever I would abstain, because he was on there, I felt incredibly left out.  As if he were in a world and I was in a separate world, that I was not invited into.  One night particularly I sat pouting because I wasn't there, and it really began to bother me..  that's when it hit me...
   What if my kids feel that way?
   I suppose I had never thought of it that way before.  What if the way that I felt when my husband spent time on facebook was the way that my children feel when I neglect them in my online world?  Its not just facebook- I get sucked into the world of blogger, twitter, pinterest..  so easily.  It's a breath of fresh air and an 'escape' from the 'mundane' of constant cooking, cleaning...  just being a home maker.  However, spending some time away actually made me realize something amazing...

   The less time I spend on the internet, the more content I am about my life.  The more happy I am to be a home maker, and the lessening my time to 'escape' lessens my desire to do so as well.

   The week that I spent away from facebook wasn't spent completely unplugged, but I spent significantly less amount of time on the internet than I do when I'm on facebook.  Blogging seems more personal, and speaks to my personal convictions of being a stay-at-home, home schooling Mommy- so it encourages me to spend less time online.  Facebook does just the opposite.  It bombards me with information, and manipulates my emotions.  Its too many opinions and suggestions.  When I leave from reading blogs, I feel empowered and uplifted..  when I leave facebook, I normally feel angry about something, confused about my life, and usually  pretty discouraged.  
   There are a LOT of things I like about facebook.  I liked seeing my sisters wedding pictures, the ones that everyone took...  I like being able to know what is going on in the lives of my friends who I don't talk too everyday.  I like being kept in the loop of home school events that are going on.  I like all of that.  But to me- its not worth it.  Its not worth giving up my self-worth.  Its not worth questioning where I stand.  Its not worth being bombarded by opinions and angry with my friends because we disagree on certain things and facebook fuels fire and anger in people.  Its not worth it to me.  More than anything- its not worth the time spent and wasted.  Time is the only thing that once its spent you can never get it back.  Yet people are so frugal with their time.  My greatest fear is and always has been regretting the way I spent my life.  There are many days that pass quicker than expected..  that I spent hours in front of a computer screen..  and I regret those days.  
   I'm a season of my life that is phenomenally rewarding.  My children are babies.  They have little feet and tiny fingers.  They still love me with all of their hearts.  They listen, they can't go anywhere on their own or do anything that I'm not overseeing, and when they do, they miss me.  They cuddle with me and fit in my bed and tell me how much they love me.  It's an amazing season.  However, its also a very trying season.  Its a season where I clean up a lot of messes..  where a lot of things they do I must re-do.  Where they can't cook for themselves, the small ones can't bathe themselves..  they must be reminded to brush their teeth..  its a trying season.  Its one that I don't want to regret and I really want to treasure for my entire life.  To do so requires me to be ever present, physically- but also in heart.  I can't allow my heart to be present when there is something so big as a whole world of people on social media competing for it.  Its difficult sometime to be content when you are scrubbing toilets two or three times a week...  but its far easier when my heart is in the right place.  Facebook changes the direction of my heart, therefore- in this season, its not for me.  
   Perhaps that's the reason for this conviction..  not to rid me from facebook forever, but because God knew what I needed and didn't need in  my life, and for this season, it does more harm than good.  
   The week that I spent on facebook, I didn't read any extra, and I didn't keep up with my devotions at all.  I didn't do weekly lesson plans, and was totally unprepared for the school week.  Moreso than that, I didn't allow myself to be dedicated to school.  I home schooled on 'auto pilot', which never accomplishes anything more than frustrated kids and a sad, frustrated Mommy who regrets her days.  I miss the days that I was so excited to get up and start school- and I'm ready to get those back.
   The thing that I get the most when I mention facebook is the 'eye roll' and the 'I don't spend much time on facebook'.  People just kind of use it and think that its not a big deal.  It is a big deal.  An article in The Washington Post reported that facebook users are as numerous as the population of the country of China.  Moreso than that, the article goes on to report...

In her 2012 book “Consent of the Networked,” and again in an essay for Foreign Policy, the journalist and technologist Rebecca Mackinnon has argued that Facebook’s top-down, paternalistic, and totally opaque governing structures look … a whole lot like those of dictatorships abroad. Facebookistan tells its citizens who to be; it collects and collates their data; it insists, above all, that it knows what’s best for them, even going so far — as in one highly publicized experiment — to manipulate their feelings.

  Certainly, we all remember the report on how facebook manipulated our feelings..  yet we overlooked it.  It wasn't as important as keeping our 'social' connections...  I was in that group of 'overlookers' too, so trust me, I'm not throwing stones.  If you didn't...   Here...  Here...   Or here...  or just google it.  It's all over the place.  They weren't kidding when they called it "Highly publicized".  

   I find that people get really angry with me when I say something about facebook..  like they hold it close and don't want someone to say something bad about 'their outlet' or 'their connection with the world' or they 'don't spend that much time on it', whether that's true or they are in denial is their own personal conviction, but whatever time you do spend, does it make you feel okay?  Angry?  Happy?  Sad??  How does facebook really enhance your life?  Has something someone has written ever ruined your day?  Your week?  A special event?  A relationship?  Is it worth it?  I can say yes, to all of those things.  I can say yes, its made me feel all of those emotions...  and those are real emotions that we all feel each and every day, but it seems to me that on facebook, those emotions aren't real.  The people you talk too on facebook seem vastly different in reality.  That's because facebook is all about creating a persona...  whether you mean too or not, its so easy to fall into it.  Fear of being judged by whats on facebook- because the one thing I can promise you is that there is someone, lots of someones on your friends list who are judging you based on the words you write on your status updates.  The photos you've posted...  people are looking past what you see and looking into your lives, to find something they can judge you based on.  I've heard it all, and thought it all, and seen it all...  and I'm so tired of it, exhausted, and sad.  But more than that, I'm refusing to allow it to manipulate my life any longer.  

  I promised a year, and that will be a resolution I will keep, even if it means next year, on Jan. 26 can mark the day of my 'one year'.  At least a year, if not a lifetime, to just pray about this.  To understand why God convicted me of this..  is it for a season, or forever?  I remember once upon a time he convicted a very young, lonely mother of her addiction to television.  She lived without television for 5 years before having it back, and now- its just more of a take or or leave it thing for me.  I can, and do go for days without turning it on.  I no longer use the television for 'background noise', and I'm far more adapt to it being off than on.  Being away changed my heart, so I could come back to television with a renewed maturity and sense of resolution toward it.  Perhaps that is what this is, and one day you will see me back on facebook, not allowing it to interfere with my life.  But for now, it does, and for now, God is working hard on me to make me who he needs me to be- and I'm willing to step back and allow him to do the work that he needs to do.  
   Since I gave up my smartphone, my life has been rewarded in so many ways.  Although I feel awkward sometime when I'm in a room full of people staring at their phones, its still so rewarding not to have it.  To smile at the person in the corner, also without a phone.  (Almost always an older person!)  To make conversation with a stranger.  It gives me more confidence, I'm far more likely to talk to someone now that I don't have one.  I'm less anxious, less invasive...  far less nosy.  You may see me pop up on instagram, but its not because I'm carrying a smartphone, its because I use it on wifi to check that, and even that I'm tempted to give up, just because of principal.  Its refreshing to experience moments without needing to capture them.  Life is so full, its silly to think that we need a supplement.
  So, that's that..  a life without facebook, for at least a year.  My photography page will also no longer reside on facebook....  My photography blog will serve as the sharing place for my photography endeavors, which since I've taken the facebook plunge are few and far between...  but that's okay.  I'll have a lot of years after my children are older to be a photographer..  and even if I don't, I'm okay with that.  I found even hosting a business page was a window of opportunity to be drawn back into the social networking world, and sorry- I'm not biting.

  I will attempt to spare you all but the usual updates, because as I mentioned, facebook seems to be a very sensitive subject, especially to those who advertise their blogs on the medium or spend long days with facebook being their only adult interaction..  but for some reason, I felt the need to share today.  

  I will also share this.  It does have one 'bad' word in it, but I believe the message is so powerful that it overpowers that word completely...  I hope it hits home to you as much as it did to me!
We have a finite existence, a set number of days
Don’t waste your life getting caught in the net
because when the end comes, nothing’s worse than regret
-Gary Turk