The social media problem.

I made the decision a couple weeks ago to take a much-needed break from the all-consuming world of Facebook. Yes, many have taken these drastic steps before. I’m not the first one to say “peace out” to that godforsaken realm of over-stimulation, nor will I be the last. I would, though, like to explain the sequence of events leading up to this decision.

It all started with politics. It didn’t necessarily end there, but that is where it started. With the passionate, hateful, often ignorant words strewn about, offending people they never knew they were offending. We’ve lived in a few very politically diverse places, and there were often a dozen opposing views on hotly-debated issues being waved in my face on any given day. It is just exhausting. I mean, it isn’t like I am allowing overly-political-and-extremely-pushy people into my life on a personal level, so why am I allowing them into my every day life at all?

Shauna Niequist wrote a beautiful blog post recently about using social media to draw lines in the sand. It is about how she chooses to be a lover, not a fighter. Not because she doesn’t have strong opinions, but because she chooses to “share those strong opinions in the context of relationship, because I think that’s the healthiest place for them to be.” I wholeheartedly agree, recognizing that Facebook often turned me into someone I didn’t want to be, toward people who I DIDN’T HAVE ANY BUSINESS INTERACTING WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The politically frustrating aspect of Facebook bothered me, but not to the point that I made any changes. I still kept up with the same loud-mouthed people spewing crazy ideas for my daily dose of internal rage. (That sounds way more unhealthy than it actually felt at the time).

My husband (who is much wiser and more level-headed than I am) picked up on this trend much earlier. Our conversations would often turn out like this.

Me: “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT ______ SAID TODAY ON FACEBOOK! THAT IS SO RIDICULOUS AND EGOTISTICAL AND BLAH BLAH blah.”

Josh: “Why do you read what they say if it always makes you so mad?”

Me: “Because it is my civil duty to police the internet for signs of stupidity!” << I never actually said this, but it was pretty close to what went through my head. I usually just walked away, knowing I never had a  good answer to that question.

The anger I was accumulating led to another big problem. Disconnectedness. Anyone who has lived in this generation for five seconds can attest to the fact that we are a SHUT OFF society. I fear for us. I fear for myself. I really do think that our world is on a path to forgetting how to communicate. I loathed myself in a recent moment sitting around a table with dear friends. We were engaged in such life-giving, meaningful conversation, when all of a sudden out of some sick reflex, I felt the need to reach into my purse for my phone. As if whatever was happening in cyber space was more important or more worthwhile or more engaging. What the hell is wrong with me??

The final straw came while pulling into my neighborhood listening to NPR. Ted Koppel was on the program Talk of the Nation, and he said something toward the end of the show that hit me like a ton of bricks.

He said “we have trivialized communication to the point that everything now is reduced to snippets of thought. We respond in nanoseconds  to one another. Reflections, thought, are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.”

Dang, Ted. You’re so right! I don’t want my generation, or those that follow to lose this powerful gift of words and relationship and intimacy among friends. I can only change myself (and believe me, I NEED to change) so I made my decision.

I deleted the app off my phone and changed my password in hopes to dive a little deeper into the things that should matter to me. I am still trying to figure some things out, including if I will ever be able to participate in Facebook in a healthy way again. (note: I haven’t deactivated the site because of a couple people I need to communicate with who don’t have a phone, and use Facebook as their email.)

All I know is that I have given too much time and energy away to this idol of self-worship, and I promise this will be the last I speak on the issue. Thanks for bearing with me in my struggles, and journeying alongside me. If this experiment goes as planned, the temporary feeling of isolation will give way to deeper, more gratifying relationships with the ones whose thoughts and opinions truly matter to me. The ones who see me. The real me. The messy, dysfunctional, crazy me. Not the person who always smiles at them through the computer screen.

Happy weekend, friends! Hope it is full of adventures and discussion and laughter and intimacy with the people God has blessed you with.

Caroline