Back in January our church entered into a 21 day corporate fast where we intentionally gave up something, whether it was food or technology in a desire to seek after God is a special way. Part of my personal fast was 21 days away from Facebook and Twitter – which I did except for a brief moment to post about Church at the Joe. I’ve took a little time to reflect in what I learned by taking a break from social networking. Here are five lessons:
1.) Social Networking (Facebook and Twitter etc.) are great tools, but can be consuming.
When I stopped using Facebook cold turkey, I realized how attached I was to it. In my case I wasn’t and obsessive Facebook user, but I certainly spent too much time on it. I deleted both Facebook and Twitter from my phone – which in my down time I would by habit always start browsing through newsfeeds and timelines. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, except that it took time and focus away from my family when I was home that belonged to them. I didn’t realize how much I was stealing from them. I haven’t put the apps back on my phone.
2.) We managed to survive three weeks without knowing what and where each other were eating.
Seriously, is there area our lives more vanity filled than our Facebook and Twitter accounts? Whether it is our profile pictures, info sections, or our posting the play by play of the mundane of our lives – it really is a bit silly. Eating a sandwich at Subway. Ran 2 miles on the treadmill. Long line at Wal-Mart. My, that was a refreshing drink of water. Ever witnessed a “one upping” conversation where people keep trying to top each other’s stories? Facebook can be one giant “one upping” conversation. For the record – cute pictures of your kids don’t qualify as vanity 😉
3.) “ ________________ and you are not friends”.
The new Facebook Timeline profile has a way of unintentionally dealing out some hard news. I know I’m a grown man and all that stuff, but it still stung deeply recently when I got de-friended by someone I care about. A tough decision I made hurt them – I get it, but Facebook just says it so bluntly.
4.) Social Networking has changed everything.
Everything! The way I hear the news. They way I find out someone died. The way we market and do business. The way we communicate. The way your extended family sees your kids grow up. The way people try to persuade you to their point of view. This is just a few of the areas it has totally changed our world. Today there are over 800 million Facebook users and 200 million Twitter users. One Billion people using social networking sites changes the way everything works. It’s just integrated into my life now. Today I communicated with people by phone, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, paper letter, text messaging and in person. Amazing how differently we interact today than just 20 years ago.
5.) Reducing my Facebok and Twitter time has been VERY healthy.
During my social media fast I spent more time talking with my wife, playing with Rylee, reading books – including the Bible. It was soul cleansing. It was great for my relationship with Julie. It helped me a better father. I spent more time with God. I wasn’t preoccupied with what was going on at 12:41pm in everyone else’s life, nor did I post what I was doing at 12:41pm. All of which was healthy for me spiritually and relationally. So, I’ve significantly reduced my interaction with both Twitter and Facebook. They are too beneficial to abandon, but they are not essential to my life. I don’t plan on putting Twitter or Facebook back on my phone anytime soon. The reduction in notifications has been a good thing. A really good thing.