Sunday, April 20, 2014

What I Learned During My Facebook Sabbatical


Hi there!  Happy Easter!  I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying your Easter weekend.

This day means several things to me: 
  1. It's a day to celebrate our Risen Lord, and to be eternally thankful for his greatest sacrifice.
  2. This day symbolically means (for me) the beginning of the Spring/Summer season.  It's not my favorite time of year, but that's for another blog post.
  3. This year, today is the end of my sabbatical from Facebook.
This post is to reflect on my time away from Facebook, and share some of the things I have learned.
First, full disclosure:  I did visit Facebook four times during my time away.  Three times to wish loved ones a happy birthday, and once to accept a friend request and look at the photos of her sweet baby boy.  Each of those times, though, I quickly did what I intended to do, and did not stray to look at my wall or any other posts.
Now, on to what I learned!

Most importantly, I didn't really miss it all that much.

Sure, there were times when I missed checking in with some friends to find out how they were doing and what they were up to.  And during the first few days, I had to stop myself from the habit of opening Facebook first thing in the morning.  But after the first week or so, I didn't really think about it.  Instead, I wrote in my journal, or read my favorite blogs or books, or read the news.

I CAN do something for more than seven days!

The second and most amazing thing I learned is that if I focus hard enough, I CAN do something for more than seven days!  I have always believed that I have a very short attention span, and that belief was based on facts.  I almost always lose interest in things after a few days.  There are many examples of this, but the one I like to regurgitate most often is the fact that I've never been able to use the teeth-whitening strips for more than seven days.  (If I'm honest, I've never been able to use them for more than three days!)  But here's the thing:  Your mind will do whatever you tell it to do!  If you tell your mind that you can't do something for more than seven days, well, your mind will abide by your wishes and not let you do something for more than seven days!  It's quite amazing, really.  In the case of my Facebook sabbatical, I told myself that I would stay away for 40 days, and I meant it.  It was important to me that I follow through with it.  (The fact that I posted on Facebook that I would be away for 40 days helped tremendously.  I had to be accountable!)  And because of my determination, I was able to do it without too much difficulty.

Go inward, share less.

Those who follow me on Facebook know that I've been going through some hormonal challenges.  And the reason they know that is because I've shared my hormonal outbursts on Facebook!  That's not cool.  There are some things that should not be put out there on the internet.  What I have learned (or was reminded of, really, because I already knew it) is that going inward in meditation is much more healthy than spreading grievances outward.  Going inward and reflecting on what I'm experiencing helps me to eventually deal with it, and learn about myself.  Going outward just makes me look like an ass.

Intimate relationships are more valuable than superficial relationships.

I don't mean to say that I consider my Facebook friendships to be superficial.  I value that reconnection with old school mates and work mates.  I love reading snippets of their lives, and seeing pictures of their families and adventures.  But there's a lot to be said about spending time with human beings face to face.  There's so much more to be learned from that intimate interaction than from reading status updates.

It's good to take a break.

The definition of addiction is "the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity."  Before my sabbatical, I believe I had become addicted to Facebook.  I say that with all seriousness.  Facebook had become the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing I thought about before going to bed.  I felt the need to share every aspect of my life with my Facebook audience.  I no longer took the time to experience life through my own eyes, but instead focused on how to share the moments with my friends and followers.  Not cool, people.  Our life moments go by in a flash.  If we don't take them in and let them give us joy and knowledge, we are missing out, for sure. 

It's more fun to live my own life than to read about others'.

The last major lesson I learned, but certainly not the least meaningful, is that it's much more fun to live my own life than to read about the lives of others.  I had started to become envious of my friends.  They were having much more fun than I was.  Why couldn't my life be as cool as theirs?  Well, folks, I answered my own question.  I had to get my nose out of the Facebook community to realize that my life can be fun and cool and meaningful if I just live it.  Just LIVE IT!

I am really proud of taking the initiative to step away from Facebook for forty whole days.  It sounds simple enough, but it wasn't until I took that time off that I realized how it had consumed my life in more ways than I realized. 

I'll be rejoining the Facebook community today, after I upload this post.  But my time there will be purposefully limited.  I don't want to fall back into old habits.  There's too much to be done in this life; too much to be experienced.  I'm going to take in every moment that I can!

Until next time, be well.

1 comment:

  1. Great read! Though I am on the other end, trying to involve myself more into social networking, this introverted peer is inspired! Thank you!