This summer, in an effort to gain some much-needed balance, I coupled my extended blog break with a Facebook break. But I didn’t just break. I took the whole thing up a notch and deactivated my account.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that Facebook is the most intense website in the world. It’s like work, Christmas dinner, a house party, a high school reunion, an online dating service and an awkward elevator ride with exes all rolled into one. Everyone you’ve ever met is there, ALL. THE. TIME. It’s incredibly appealing and wildly off-putting all at once. Why else would people need to forcibly distance themselves from it? ~Reb Stevenson
If you don’t suffer from a Facebook Addiction, you won’t get this post or why I had to deactivate. You are probably the same person who can take “just a bite” of a freshly-baked brownie and walk away. It’s fine. I don’t get you, either. But, I still love you, in all your mental stability and emotionally healthy life habits. Just whatEVER, okay?
For the rest of you, here is a glimpse into my actual journal, as I chronicled the process of my Facebook Deactivation.
It’s hard to see in this screen shot, but when you deactivate, a screen pops up asking you, “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” And then it says, “Your friend will no longer be able to keep in touch with you.”
And THEN it posts pictures of your friends with the caption, “Angela will miss you. Tammie will miss you. Nina will miss you.” And so on.
Are you kidding me?
Don’t tell me there’s not some SERIOUS manipulation going on here. Anyway. I overcame. And I Deactivated. Read on…
I deactivated my Facebook (FB) account about 9 am. It was so strange seeing it go away. I spent the day running errands for vacation prep, and found myself picking up my phone all day long to “check it.” Since the only other thing to check on my phone is email, I checked that. About 30 times. Then I checked the junk email box, twice. And then I checked Rebekah’s (my 15-year-old’s) Instagram. Thrice.
I’m eager to break this habit of incessant checking.
I wonder how often people who are not addicted to technology check emails.
I’m also feeling anxious about not knowing what is happening in life—like events in our neighborhood and updates of friends and family. FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out. That’s an actual thing, you know. I’ve got FOMO.
I wonder how people who don’t have FB know things.
It was refreshing to wake up and not have the pressure to check FB while the coffee brewed. I actually unloaded the dishwasher instead. Remember when I used to unload the dishwasher every day when the coffee brewed? I hate having my phone right here on the counter with potential access to the entire world. Maybe I will move the phone charger to the office, instead of the kitchen. I’m in here in this kitchen way too often to ignore my phone.
Here’s something interesting: I “think” in FB statuses. I mentally reword every thought into a short, pithy statement.
Yesterday, Elliana said funny things that would have landed on my page, were it not for the deactivation. I would have taken a picture of my new stack of books and posted something witty about that. I probably would have posted a picture of Rebekah and her cousin during her visit because they are so stinking beautiful.
I’m not sure any of this is bad or wrong…it just is.
Wait. Maybe it IS bad and wrong. I mean—FB has actually changed the way I THINK! That’s insane.
I want to become one of those people who is completely indifferent to FB—the same way I am to Instagram and Twitter. I have absolutely no desire to dwell on those other platforms! Why does FB have such an addictive quality to it? What drug are you secretly emitting into The Internets, FACEBOOK?!
Today I thought a lot about people who may not know about the deactivation and might go looking for me, only to find I don’t exist there anymore. Part of that feels selfish. Part of that feels mysterious and exciting.
With extra time on my hands previously occupied by scrolling through my feed, I cleaned out my email inbox. I unsubscribed from everything I could, and deleted almost everything else—about 17,000 emails!!!
I still find myself wanting to post pictures and status updates. I also want to check to make sure people are okay. I know I can do that other ways, like texting or calling or email, but it’s so easy on FB. It’s like a giant, active contact list of every person I’ve ever known.
I’m in Florida, sitting on the balcony, listening to the thunder-ocean. I just read a great quote in my Beth Moore study on the book of James, and I thought, “This would be a great FB status.” But other than that, my desire for FB has decreased immensely.
In the 17-hour car ride here (!)(with 4 kids and a husband!), I wandered over to Pinterest to pass the time that would have been spent on FB.
Personal Insight: Pinterest doesn’t do it for me. Pinterest is more like paging through magazines. Pretty but kinda boring. FB is like listening in on my friends’ conversations or paging through their photo albums.
I like the way it feels to free myself from the pressure to take only post-worthy pictures. I can just take a picture and save it for us, without sharing it. Though I still think there is value in sharing. And I suspect I will share again.
One full week. I don’t miss it, except that I took some great pictures of the sunset and I wanted to share them. I scrolled through Twitter yesterday, but only because I got a notification that someone retweeted an old blog post.
More Personal Insight: Twitter doesn’t have the same draw for me. Too busy. To impersonal. All those # and @ symbols are so distracting. The sentences are too short. The links are too many. I hate Twitter.
I miss being able to post pictures and funny statuses.
I do NOT miss getting sucked into stupid discussions with stupid people.
I do NOT miss picking up my phone every time I have a spare minute. In fact, the phone sits in the charger, untouched, almost the whole day.
Jon posted some vacation pics on his Facebook page—first time ever he’s done anything on his FB account. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, so I showed him the FB ropes, thus beginning my reintroduction back into the Vortex. I scrolled through his feed. I read him updates aloud. I checked on family members. I showed him pictures. I posted him a new profile picture that included me, his lovely wife.
You know, maybe removing myself entirely from FB is selfish. For family and close friends who truly DO want to keep up with me and my family, I’m depriving them of that. It’s not about me, it’s about THEM.
Yes. Let’s go with that.
No, really, stepping away has been good—but I miss FB. I’ve had time to break the incessant phone checking disorder from which I suffered. I don’t want to slip back into that, ever again. The key will be to maintain a level of self-control.
FB, you are such a sneaky time-sucker! But I’m onto you.
Today, I reactivated my account. Because it’s my birthday, that’s why.
And one of my favorite things about FB is getting hundreds of birthday wishes. I’m not too proud to admit that. I do feel a little bit guilty, though. Like a drunk going back for a drink.
20 Days Later
It was heart-warming reunion, coming back to FB land. Because it was my birthday, it felt like everyone threw me a “Welcome Back to Facebook Party.” Several people said they really missed me. Others wondered what happened to me.
One friend thought I blocked him.
It has been extremely gratifying catching up with my people. I also like getting back into the neighborhood loop (I mean, how else would I know about the neighborhood yard sale?). It was fun sharing summer pictures that remained dormant during the deactivation.
It was only a matter of days before I was back to checking the stupid thing every spare minute.
Has anyone liked my post?
Has she responded to my comment?
Has she messaged me back?
And the scrolling. The incessant scrolling! Every 10 minutes. All day long. Every day.
Jerry B. Jenkins once interviewed Rev. Billy Graham about his private devotional life. He asked how often Mr. Graham read the scriptures:
“Wherever I am,” he said, “at home, in my office, or in a hotel room in some other country, the first thing I do in the morning is to leave my Bible open somewhere where I will notice it during the day. I pick it up at odd moment and read a verse or two or a chapter or two for an hour or two. And this is not for study or sermon preparation. This is just for my own spiritual nourishment…This is my spiritual food. I would no more miss this than a regular meal.”
Insert “my phone” or “my Facebook” where Billy Graham says “my Bible” and we are exactly alike!
Listen, this isn’t Heaven/Hell stuff, all this wrestling with social media. I know that. But I can’t ignore the impact this type of “nourishment” must be having on my heart and my thoughts. It’s like mindlessly digging my hand into a bag of chips, all day, every day, and wondering if it’s adversely affecting my health.
(hint: Yes. The answer to that is yes)
Not a day goes by that I don’t ask the Lord to fill me with Insight and Direction and Wisdom and Purpose—not a single day! I want so badly for God to use me to impact people for His Kingdom. More than simply giving them something to chuckle at, I want to offer them something to MARVEL at. A life completely immersed in Christ.
If that is my true desire, and it is, then I must be more intentional with my time. I must be more disciplined about what I’m sowing into my heart. I simply cannot ignore this any longer.
New Facebook Schedule, Day 1
Sit down at computer and set timer for 15 minutes.
Read notifications and messages super fast.
Respond to a few.
Read one article.
Like 2 things in my feed.
(Amazing how picky I need to be about what I read when I’m racing against the clock.)
Time’s up. Wow. That was fast!
Now, I think I’ll move on to spend the rest of my day doing things with greater eternal relevance.
“I honestly think that in 10 years from now, I won’t remember anything that I saw on Facebook. But I will remember the things I have done in the real world.” Merijn Straathof.
Q4U: Maybe it’s not social media for you. Maybe it’s TV. Or music. Or the news. What are you sowing into your mind that is sucking up your time? What could you do to discipline yourself better in that area?
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