My Facebook Fast

 Posted by on March 28, 2011  Add comments  Tagged with: , ,
Mar 282011

I was raised in the Catholic church. I’m no longer Catholic, and in our Bible-based, non-denominational church there isn’t much emphasis placed on Lent. However, I still personally observe Lent- not because I have to, but because I want to.

In Christian tradition, Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday until Easter, and is intended as a time of prayer, repentance, and sacrifice for the believer, in preparation for Holy Week, and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It’s traditional during Lent to give something up, because Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert before beginning his public ministry. The idea is to sacrifice something that’s difficult for you to let go of, and in past years, I’ve given up sugar, coffee, Diet Coke, and television, among other things. Some were harder to do without than others, but this year I decided to let go of something that was a big part of my life. Too big.

I gave up Facebook.

I only joined Facebook last April. Until that point I wasn’t really interested, but I was invited by many readers, and my blog stat counter showed a lot of traffic from Facebook. I’ll admit that I was curious, and it seemed like everyone was on it, so I took the plunge. At first, it was really fun. I was able to reconnect with some old friends, and I could keep in touch with faraway family. I enjoyed getting to know my readers better. In many ways, Facebook is a wonderful thing, and for the first week of my Facebook fast, it was very, very difficult for me to resist checking it. But being away from it has gotten easier every day because, the truth is, there’s a real downside to Facebook:

-It feels like a popularity contest. I found myself wondering why a certain person unfriended me, or didn’t accept my friend request, and I seem to recall that I couldn’t wait to get out of high school so that I could get away from that kind of thing.

-When you’re on Facebook, people know too much about you, and you know too much about them. You’re able to see how friends and family interact with others, and sometimes it’s very different from how they interact with you. This isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes you learn things that you were better off not knowing.

-It’s a time waster. Facebook fanatics love to argue with me about this, but no one needs to justify anything to me. I’m saying that for ME, it’s a time waster, and I never even played any of the games. Never. Not once. But it’s very easy to get caught up in reading, commenting, and messaging, and you can literally lose hours on that site. I just feel that my time would be better spent in the Word, in prayer, or with my family.

-Facebook is highly addictive, and some people seem to live their lives on it, instead of living their lives. A friend of mine told me that she observed her roommates, who were sitting two feet away from each other, as they wrote back and forth on each other’s FB walls, and all she could think was, “This is ridiculous!” And did you know that Facebook is now implicated in 1 out of 5 divorce cases? My husband has steadfastly refused to join for that very reason (among others) – he doesn’t want to put himself in a position where anything could happen that might harm our marriage. I’m concerned that people are losing sight of what’s important, and even basic courtesy and politeness. Last week, I was talking to another Mom at Cakie’s school, and she whipped out her phone and started texting right in the middle of our conversation! Also, I recently saw a photograph of a woman who was so busy checking her iPhone that she was completely ignoring the nurse standing next to her hospital bed, waiting to hand her her newborn baby. This is both sad and disturbing, because technology can’t replace real, face-to-face relationships. Or at least it shouldn’t.

-A new study shows that Facebook causes stress and anxiety, and I found this to be true sometimes. I think I’m happier without it. There’s a real feeling of freedom in not having that distraction, and I think that my home and family have benefited enormously from me giving it up. I spend my time so much more wisely, and our house shows it. I’ve also spent more time in prayer, and I’ve been exercising regularly instead of parking my butt in front of the computer.

I’ll probably go back to Facebook someday….or not. I really don’t know at this point.

If you’ve been considering revisiting life before Facebook, I say give it a try and see what you think. You can just deactivate your account, and reactivate it if you really miss it. But, like me, you might find happiness in a Facebook-free life.


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