Wednesday, February 08, 2017

My Facebook Break-Up

Six weeks ago I had a 24 hour bug--nothing serious, just the kind of viral illness that makes you feel lethargic and causes your head hurt when you move. It was a cold late December day so I sat on the sofa in front of the fire and surfed television and the Internet all day. I gorged on media until I was overstuffed.

All that free time with my face in a screen had led me down all sorts of rabbit trails "checking on" people on the fringes of my real everyday life--estranged family, friends I have fallen out of touch with, young women from hard places I have mentored in the past. I peeked into the tinted window of their lives social media allowed and was left feeling sick. I was deeply concerned by some of the struggles I saw in their pictures and posts, but recognized much of that was based on assumptions and filling in gaps between what they said and what I interpreted. I had a handful of people I wanted to reach out to and try to re-engage, but couldn't decide if peeking in their windows gave me a right to be heard.  I felt frustrated and empty.

I woke up the next morning with what I can only describe as a social media hangover. Never had the truth that social media is not the same as real life two-way, person-to-person relationships been more clear to me. I realized I was spending lots of time "peeking in" on people that could have been used to truly enter in with people God had put in my everyday real life.

In one overwhelming moment of clarity, I knew it was time to deactivate my Facebook account. I didn't think it through, I simply obeyed the fire in my belly--knowing deactivation doesn't have to be forever. When and if I feel led to go back, all my info, years of posts and accumulated contacts will still be there. I kept my messenger account so I can still reach out to folks whose contact info I do not otherwise have saved in my phone. It felt scary but right.

I am absolutely NOT a Facebook hater. Frankly, for years I defended it to my friends who had previously defected. I truly felt called there to be salt and light--to post blog entries, uplifting articles, and self-deprecating humor. It was a ministry of sorts. But in the same way I felt a sense of purpose in staying, I suddenly felt peace and freedom in leaving.

I haven't left every Instagram (photos) and Twitter (articles) activity is still high. I don't know that my Facebook departure is forever. But for this season it is a very good thing. God has used the break to teach me a lot.

When I have the urge to "check on" people or connect, I text, e-mail, message or call the person...often with a simple, "Have you on my heart," "praying for you," or direct question like, "how are you?" The response is all the confirmation I need that humans long for personal, meaningful offline connection.

When I read something that moves me I try to text or email it to the specific people God leads me to share it with--or blanket ones go on twitter. :-) This, too, has caused me to pause and remember the specific issues real people in my life are walking through. My relationships while fewer, are so much richer.

And all these difficult, hotly debated political issues...those conversations are so much more productive, informative and helpful over coffee, a Bible or a meal. Seriously.

Honestly, I've re-activated my account a handful of times--and on each occasion, it has lasted less than 5 minutes. It is as if my relational tastebuds have changed. I am hungry now for fewer surface announcements and headlines and more meaningful, personal contact with people seeking to understand and be understood. 

Yesterday, I listened to a wonderful talk Jill Briscoe delivered at If Gathering and it seemed to reiterate the same message. 

"The place between your own two feet at any given time, that's your mission field." -Jill Briscoe

This is the call. Stop scanning for the next best thing. Look right here in front of you. The place where God has planted your two feet is your ministry. We are to be present here--with THESE people--the ones in your home, workplace, grocery store, church, neighborhood, city, the ones whose paths He has sovereignly ordained to intersect your yours. 

"Go where you are sent. Stay where you are put. Give what you've got until you are done." -Jill Briscoe

Maybe in your season and station, social media is a part of your call. Maybe it isn't. But as for me, I am Facebook free and it is very good.


Karen said...

Thank you for writing so eloquently the feelings I have been having lately. I must confess that the first thought I had after reading your post was 'I want to share that on Facebook!!' My Facebook feed has become so full of political agendas and news reports (I don't watch ANY news). Making heart to heart connections is what is important. Social media can be a great tool, but it can really be one-sided so extra effort needs to be placed on making a more intimate connection. Thanks for a convicting post!!

Kelley said...

Totally get this! I took Facebook off my least now I'll force myself to sit with a real computer... Praying this time I don't give in and re-download the app out of boredom... Boredom...should just be a call to prayer!

Nichole said...

My husband has recently gone through a similar journey and I have deleted FB from my phone as well. I still "need" my account as I have a couple of groups that I am part of that use FB as a primary means of communication, but I have been *trying* to limit myself to just checking in on those groups, rather than scrolling through my newsfeed. I haven't been 100%, but I'm trying! I think as this school year wraps up and my commitments to leadership roles wrap up too I may deactivate my account for the summer and see where it leads me!

Kathy Clark said...

It seemed so perfectly timed reading your blog today. I've had several conversations with people about deactivating Facebook. I still enjoy my IG feed (it's a little more for me and things enjoy - books etc. @joyseeking ) but Facebook has really been on my heart lately - from the time spent on it to how it's been making me feel lately. I listened to some of the IF:gathering conference as well and Jill Briscoe really blew me away. It was the first time I heard her speak. I enjoyed it so much I sent the link to my mom and shared it with my bible study ladies. The quotes you mentioned have been written in my journal as well - including the one where she said that her obedience came first and then the courage came. Thanks for sharing.

The Amazing Trips said...


That is all. :)

Denise Ross said...

I've been intentionally connecting with friends and family- my immediate family and so have had less time to be on fb.
I'm glad actually because I come off FB feeling all mixed up inside and I don't like this feeling. I very nearly deactivated my FBI account a while back because I was over all the stuff being posted. The only reason I kept it was to keep up with family, but I find I'm not in it very often and it takes up so much time, time I could be spending doing things with the people I love or doing hobbies.
Thank you fir a great thought provoking post. I'm going to look up the Jill Briscoe talk and have a listen.

Kristi said...

Love this.

nolesna said...

Thank you for sharing. This is so well said. I, too, have sensed my "relational tastebuds" changing. I took the socials off of my phone for Lent, and it has been so liberating. I find myself missing Twitter most, and Insta some, but Facebook least. Pondering ....