What I Gained By Giving Up Time On Facebook
A while back I hopped on Facebook first thing in the morning, as was my usual routine numerous times a day. The routine had started innocently several years back. I used to check my email first thing in the morning and then try to interact on all social media sites. As a writer, social media presence was seen as important. As a blogger, we were supposed to be out there, interacting with our tribe, making meaningful conversations with friendly strangers to increase our visibility and our online presence.
It was seen as IMPORTANT.
But was it, really?
While on Facebook that morning, I noticed a friend had commented on another friend’s story. My heart sank. At the time, I was not only struggling through another season of insecurity, but that friend was also going through a difficult season in her life. Though once close friends, she had pulled away from me and many others in her life. The distance hurt. I try not to be a jealous person, but the thought ran through my head: She has time to comment on her story, but not time to text me back?
That’s when I knew I’d had enough.
I was in a place in my life where I needed to work on my insecurity, and I did not need to be focused on who was commenting where and why and who wasn’t commenting on my stuff. (Did that sentence exhaust you as much as it did me?)
In addition, I know that Facebook and other social media sites are places where many of us post our best moments: family vacations, baby pictures, prom pictures, new houses, wedding pictures, and more. It’s a place where we celebrate good times.
But for me, I sometimes have difficulty seeing other people’s awesome vacation pictures because we don’t get to take trips very often. Autism has made our lives a bit … complicated. Even going out to dinner, if the budget allows, can be a stressful. Most of the time people stare at us and Rachel wants to spend all her time in bathrooms. Yuck. So, when I see other people’s awesome photos, sometimes I am, again, jealous and dissatisfied with my own life.
It’s my problem. I’m glad others post things to celebrate. And most of the time, I enjoy looking at them. But…sometimes I can’t handle it.
Facebook is also a public forum where we debate hot issues. So…yeah, most of us have seen how
civil vicious those things can get. Sometimes that just adds unneeded stress to my life.
So, that morning in December I realized I had a problem.
Facebook had gotten put too high in my priorities.
I heard a small voice in the back of my head whisper: “instead of checking in with the world, why don’t you check in with Me first? Instead of starting the day with dissatisfaction, why don’t you start by gaining My peace?”
I wondered: why was I starting each day seeing the things I missed out on or the things that caused me to feel dissatisfied, instead of starting the day seeking God, the giver of peace? A couple verses came to my mind, one of them Matthew 6:33. It’s a simple verse. Many of us sang a song about it as kids or at church camp:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
My heart stirred within me.
Seek first God’s kingdom.
Seek God first.
What was I really seeking? I was seeking entertainment, the world, news, and the biggie: the approval of others. How many likes did I get? How many people cared about what I posted? And how many people are doing better things than me (Comparison. Ugh.).
That morning, I made a decision that Facebook would no longer control my life. I turned off my notifications and made the decision to not look at it in the mornings. For over a month, I rarely got on Facebook. I missed a lot of birthdays, a few disasters, and some other life events. But I didn’t miss the added stress, comparison, and constant influx of political stories.
As the Lord helped me work through my issues of insecurity, which I posted about here (part 1), here (part 2), and here (part 3), I also began to see how letting go of social media helped me gain God’s perspective. Some of my insecurities kept growing out of my competitive spirit and my tendency to compare. If I stay off my phone, I don’t feed my negative inner monologue that tells me I need to do better.
I’m not saying this is anyone else’s fault that I have these feelings. This is me, an internal struggle I have. I don’t blame others, but I have learned that having more boundaries around where I place my eyes has helped me gain peace and get past some of my insecurities.
For over a year now I have used a different approach to Facebook. Many days I don’t open the app at all. When I see news articles or arguments that might have upset me in the past, I now scroll past and ignore. When I miss someone’s birthday, I might post a comment, but I also give myself freedom to miss those times.
I spend less time staring at what others have and more time focusing on being thankful for what God has given me. I am learning how to set boundaries and gain peace.
Yes, I miss interacting with my social media friends, but I was tired of giving up FACE TIME with the people in front of me for the sake of people on the other side of my screen.
Maybe I miss out. But at the same time, I’m more plugged in with home, with my children and with my husband.
I’m less involved in distant people’s lives, true, but more involved here with the people God has put in front of me.
I might have less to offer from a social-media-presence standpoint to an editor or agent, but I feel that’s not what I need to pursue at this point anyhow. It cost too much of my life.
Overall, in giving up time on Facebook, I have gained peace, perspective, and more of God’s presence.
It’s been almost a year-and-a-half and I still don’t miss my Facebook notifications. I still miss a lot of information, events, and birthdays, but I feel like my gains of peace far outweigh what I have given up. I still believe people are important, which is why I spent so much time on Facebook in the first place, but given a choice between Facebook and my family or the people in front of my face, I hope I will continue to choose my family and face-people.
Some mornings, I still face that temptation to tune into the world before I tune into God. When I ignore that temptation and tune into God’s word, I never regret it. But when I choose the other way around and tune into the world’s noise first? Sometimes the lack of peace lasts all day.
How about you? What have you decided to give up for the sake of peace and what have you gained from it?