Saturday, March 10, 2012

Facebook as "The World," by M

I’ve had a lot of random thoughts flying through my head recently and all seem to be good candidates for blog posts. However, I kept kind of waiting to see if any of these thoughts would mature into any kind of coherent idea… and I’m not sure that has happened. I think I need to just commit to something and think about it more intentionally. Lol

Anyway, I guess in the spirit of my last update I’ll tell y’all what my Lenten resolution is for this year. After reflecting upon my current schedule and generally overwhelmed life, I decided that I needed to give something up and not add something to my spiritual endeavors. I was thinking "okay, how can I streamline my life and do fewer things to a better end and not add one more thing to a growing list of many things that I accomplish less than brilliantly?" So after some thought and prayer, I decided to spend less time on Facebook. I'm checking it once a day for less than 30 minutes. Here’s why:

1) I didn’t want to take a real facebook fast because people who aren’t on facebook become a burden to everyone else. It’s true. I didn’t want to be that person who is asking others to email me information/photos/video that I could otherwise find on facebook. I don’t want to be totally out-of-the-loop for social (and some church) events that pop up there. I don’t want my "facebook fast" to cause more work for me or others.

2) My time is limited. I would venture to say that I’m somewhat over-committed at the moment (and probably for most of my adolescent/adult life). The reality is that 2 hours spent on facebook is a bad return on investment for my valuable time. And while I hate to cut out one of my (very few) "vices"… my hope is that it opens up more time for truly fruitful endeavors like reading, talking to family, spending time with friends, etc.

3) I don’t want to be a slave to facebook. Honestly, the less I’m on it, the more I realize its potential to be toxic in my life. There have been many studies about how facebook and the advent of social media have created a culture of people who report greater dissatisfaction with their lives, simply because the nature of facebook fosters lots of comparison. The gist is that facebook is "mediated," which means that we typically only share those things that are fun, happy, and exciting about our lives. Even if we do share lame or sad things, it’s disproportionate to the ratio of good-to-bad that we actually experience in life. So as a facebook user, you compare your actual life experience to the mediated experience of others’ lives, and it makes it seem like everyone has a better, happier, more exciting life than you.

Moreover, I’ve decided that even if you can get the comparison thing through your head and try to avoid becoming victim to it, facebook presents another problem, which is that we inadvertently create expectations for ourselves based on the knowledge of what everyone else is doing. Facebook is the ultimate vehicle for peer-pressure, and it’s dangerous that we rarely recognize it as such. We see all these people who are graduating from law school and think to ourselves "wait… now everyone is more educated than me. Should I be more educated?" We see all these people who are having babies and think to ourselves "I’m so behind! I’m never going to be a cool mom because I won’t be young and hip and by the time I have kids I’ll be in my 30s and my body won’t bounce back like my 22 year-old friends’ bodies have." Facebook is now what we use as our benchmark for success or failure at life. Even when we don’t totally buy it, we still feel a knawing sense of "I’m behind," "I’m not doing enough," "why does my life not look like that?"

It's no surprise that it's dangerous, as a Christian, to use "the world" as a benchmark. The Bible talks much about how loving the world makes us enemies of God. Enemies of God. That's kind of big and scary and heavy. So, in my mind, that means if I take my cues for my life from Facebook and not from God... I'm in troubled water.

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the World, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." - 1 John 2: 15-17

So, I'm spending this season of Lent trying to break myself of my reliance on Facebook and turn my attention more towards God - His definition of me and His plan for my life. I am loving the change already and anticipate continuing in this long after Easter. My heart and life just feel healthier.

To end on a happy/funny note, I'll admit that I'm participating in Stuff Christians Like #689. It's true! Christians love a good digital fast. haha!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. Preach it. I just spent way too much time last night looking at pictures and reading a blog of a couple who are currently doing the "travel the world while we are still young and rootless" thing. Which presented many "Why doesn't my life look like that?" moments. Why don't I have a boyfriend I can travel the world with? Why don't I have a boyfriend, period? How come my life is relatively "rootless" yet it looks nothing like that? Why Why WHY?

    It's dangerous. For all the reasons you already mentioned. Comparison is evil!! And you say if people put less than happy things on facebook it is disproportionate to the happy. Which is very true. But in my experiences, unless someone has died, it is completely socially unacceptable to say anything negative at all. People feel guilty or someone makes a rude comment about their negative post. So even if people TRY to be real, I feel like they are faced with some serious backlash. Ugh. Great issue.

    Good luck with your fast!! I should probably be doing the same!