Lessons of a Facebook Fast

Lent ended a week ago, and I’m just now breaking my Facebook fast, the spiritual discipline I chose to explore for those 40 days.  Here’s a smattering of musings about what I learned, what surprised me, and whether I feel that this discipline has whipped my spiritual butt into shape.

  1. Giving up Facebook was surprisingly easy.  Once I’d signed out, I was shocked to find how easy it was not to sign back in.  I half-expected the gravitational pull of the black hole created in my schedule by lack of FB to form an event horizon that could be resisted only by warp-speeding away from my computer, but in reality, I hardly thought about it.
  2. I missed the important stuff.  I missed the engagement announcements, where people have been assigned for call and for internship. I missed birthdays, I missed pregnancy announcements…I missed all the stuff people actually get a Facebook account to keep track of, only to spend most of their time on kinda stupid stuff.
  3. I missed the stupid stuff.   I missed reading the articles friends linked to.  I missed the stupid cat pictures.  I missed the baby pictures of your children masticating peas in a way that was both cute and funny (they’re so talented!).  I missed the picture of the bear you saw in your backyard.
  4. I missed my own stuff.  I am somewhat chagrined to admit it–if only I had the self-discipline to write for myself and not for others–but I learned that I don’t update my blog unless there are people who find it interesting enough to read.  And presumably, most read it because I post links on FB.  (Thanks for clicking, friends!)  Without others to write for, typing to the empty cloud seems…just…too existentialist to stand.
  5. I did not miss the irresistible pull of arguing with people whose opinions I find insensitive, draconian, and/or offensive.  Enough said.
  6. I learned that life goes on without Facebook.  And as a result, I deleted a Facebook account that I no longer really use.  That’s one less pang of guilt I need to feel on account of a mythic story I was telling myself: that someday, I’d catch up with everyone on that other account.  I’m still on Facebook.  They’ll find me if they need to.
  7. Despite these lessons, my spiritual butt is not noticeably more fit for the holy equivalent of Daisy Dukes.  I learned again what you really think I’d have figured out by now: Facebook is just one of a million ingenious ways for me to find things to do that don’t directly nourish my spiritual life.  As a result of this fast, for example, Hulu and I have grown much closer.  I’m not saying it wasn’t valuable–I’ve really enjoyed watching the entire series of Coupling during the time I would otherwise be checking Facebook statuses.  But that didn’t change the fact that I was watching TV when I could have been writing papers, reading edifying books or articles, or volunteering in my community.  But this led to a final thought…
  8. Facebook is an important piece of my self-care.  My use of it isn’t always balanced, and it’s sometimes (often) operating hand in hand with a bad habit of procrastination.  But at the same time, it’s a way for me to follow up with lots of people in a way that doesn’t exhaust my reserves of social energy, and to stay involved, or at least up-to-date, with important developments in the lives of friends whom I otherwise wouldn’t be in touch with, because for the love of tennis shoes, I am only one introvert.

In conclusion, hello again, Facebook world.  It’s been a nice vacation, but I’m glad to see you again.

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3 Replies to “Lessons of a Facebook Fast”

  1. Glad to see you back again – in both forums. And happy that the black hole didn’t swallow you up – either way 🙂

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