Thursday, July 18, 2013

Well, That Was Fast

If you've seen the movie (and if you haven't, where have you been?), you'll recognize the scenes in this collage. In looking at these scenes, you just relived memories and experienced emotions in the split second it took your eyes to sweep over all eight frames. My short-lived Facebook hiatus was like that.

In my first full day off Facebook, I logged in a dozen times. (Yeah, I might have a problem.) I did a quick speed-read of headlines and status updates. I resisted logging in from work. Until my break, then I logged in once. I didn’t comment or ‘like’ anything, even though I wanted to. The reality is, I've lived a hundred memories and emotions since I thought I was going to go off cold-turkey. Some thoughtful responses to my hiatus announcement got me thinking beyond just my little window on the world. I sense how much it keeps us connected to life, to each other, to reality. How much it staves off loneliness.

But... it’s a good exercise, this Facebook hiatus.

Instead of mindlessly wandering through posts, updating and commenting at random, here, thither and yon (did I really say “thither”?) I’m being intentional. Asking myself, “Is that really a necessary thing for me to say?” Sifting out the frivolous. "Rawk, papier, thithers" (well maybe that's frivolous).

There’s nothing wrong with frivolous. As long as it’s not escapism or denial. It’s so easy to make light and make jokes when we don’t want to face reality or deal with the deeper wounds. Remember, we can't heal what we don't acknowledge. We can't surrender what we don't first own.

I’m not judging anyone else. Just me. I’m responsible for me.

In my first evening off Facebook, I write a poem that affirms I'm not a preacher but I think about it. I spend some wonderful quiet time meditating, then reading. I'm soaking and digesting Dr. David Benner's amazing book, The Gift of Being Yourself, a follow up to the deeply healing Surrender to Love. They're both great. Read them. Seriously.

I did some laundry. Cleaned the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, even when I was on FB too often, I did these things. Except the poems became few and far between and the laundry would often sit in the washer so long I had to wash it again to freshen the almost-ready-to-mildew scent. But that also goes along with being busy, and I'm busy about a lot more things than just the internet (or maybe I'm in denial).

What is the appeal of Facebook?

I use it almost solely to connect with others. I'm curious about the world. About you. I don't play games. I don't click advertisements. I don't post recipes. Not that any of those things are wrong, it's just not my style. I use it to share interesting stuff and what's bouncing around my mind, it helps me stay informed about current events and keep in touch with what's happening with my friends. It’s like walking into a good party. I can make a remark to this person here and read their timeline posts just as if they were giving me a verbal run-down of what they’ve been doing lately. I can leave them without apology and move on to the next person. If they are quiet, I don’t have to make small talk, I just move on.

So I connect, but it’s without obligation. Very “social” media. Pseudo-vulnerable. I only come out where you can see me when it’s safe. Friends without commitment? Doesn’t cost me anything but time and it is the gift that keeps on giving: blog posts, quotes, scripture, inspiration, laughs.

I linger on the timeline of another poet. A professional one. Wait. I’ve been paid for my poetry. But this professional does this for a living. I think. Wouldn’t that be amazing? If I were a professional poet? But if all I did was write, instead of interact with people in the real world who make me think about things I want to write about, would I still have enough ideas to really write full time? 

I move on to the writer/professor/preacher/philosopher and see what kind of chat he’s stirred up. I always feel so intellectual on his timeline. Apparently I'm not alone. It's another theological debate among the students. Some are so emphatic. I giggle in recognition. I used to be that adamant. Convinced of my right-ness. I persuaded no one but myself and I alienated far more people than average. Now I’m sure of less and less and have more and more friends. I do still believe there are some absolute truths. However…

Based on whom you follow, Facebook can provide a new way of looking at things. 

A brilliant pun. A great article. So much wealth of curiosity-satisfying meat-and-potatoes content. Or achingly beautiful word-smithing. It keeps my mind keen and open, challenges my ingrained ideas, gives me clarity and hope. Satiating.

Then my son's girlfriend posts a picture of him at his job as a camp staffer. I really, really, like it. Of course I have to 'like' it! And I have a PM interchange with a dear friend. Wow, would I ever miss that! And to be brutally honest here, when I AM lonely in the wee hours of the night, Facebook is a waaaaay better alternative than the Crisis Line or dialing YOUR number at 3 a.m., right?

Why do I want to be on Facebook? It fills that basic human need for connection, for significance. I need to know I’m heard. I need to hear you. It helps me know I’m not alone in the universe. That you can trust me enough to share your heart when you really need to. That I make a difference. That you might get an epiphany or a different perspective when hearing from me and I from you, that we can challenge each other's ingrained ideas, call each other out when we are believing lies; support each other when we're dealing with petulant people (children, teens, bosses, employees), (((hug))) each other when we are going through horrible tragedy, point each other to the Truth in Jesus and just give each other a little hope, faith and love. (And a bit of cheesiness once in a while, too).

It is community. It is life. It IS real life. Yes, it is. Sure, it's a less that perfect substitute for a face-to-face conversation, but it’s a good alternative when I can’t look in your eyes. (Except in that really nice profile pic you just posted there.)

I am making some changes, though. I'm limiting my time. I'm not logging in during work hours (unless it's for work), I'm setting aside specific time to be completely silent and unplugged and I'm thinking twice or more about what I say, what I do and, um, how I dress...

Thanks for being my friend. Are you nodding yet? After all, I’m just a girl, standing in front of you, asking you to love me.

And you do.



  1. You nailed it! Thanks Joyce!

  2. Good. There's a business and manufacturing process called Continuous Improvement -- it essentially focuses on constant adjustments to subsystems in order to optimize the product or output. It is easy to think we should "fix" something and then move on. But life is too dynamic - it involves perpetual evaluation and choice. So I'd see your hiatus as more of a routine course correction than a "fix"; that's how a plane gets to its destination. Enjoy the flight - you've got a good Navigator!
    " I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Ps 32:8