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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I did not miss the irresistible pull of arguing with people whose opinions I find insensitive, draconian, and/or offensive. Enough said.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.