I wrote this a few weeks ago… currently at 27 days Facebook-free!
I have been Facebook-free for 14 days today. Whew! It continues to surprise me how much free time I have and how much I don’t really miss it at all until I’m bored or lonely. As I know many people experience, I go through seasons of content/discontent with Facebook. When I’m busy and my life is full of thriving relationships I don’t notice going a day or so without checking it.
The reality is that where I’m at in life (single, 20 something, living alone, in my hometown), and where society is (constant social media connections) means that often times I am going to feel isolated.
In 2011, I “Facebook-fasted” for the season of Lent. This was the first time I had taken a break from Facebook and I had a lot of drive behind it since it was a challenge and I was determined to succeed. During this time I also traveled to Africa for missions work. While the obvious nature of what I was doing there (and lack of internet access out in the bush) made it incredibly easy, it was also easy to continue the “fast” upon returning to the States. I didn’t want anything to do with material things and had my priorities turned upside down.
This time around, while it hasn’t been hard by any means, hasn’t been quite as easy. Leading up to the New Year I was feeling incredibly isolated and depressed. I sometimes found myself wandering around Facebook world for hours, day-dreaming about what my life could really look like if I wasn’t where I was. Let’s talk about how unhealthy THAT is. I could give up all my belongings and travel the world. I could quit my super awesome, super-blessed-to-have-it job and go love on all the orphans I can get my hands on. I could start being super-social-butterfly Jenn again (somewhat like high school but with a whole lot more Jesus thrown in) and go out for drinks with friends all the time and make more of an effort to meet new people. I could settle more into what it looks like to be a young professional in my community and really dig deep here and maybe set down roots. I could give in to maybe never going overseas long-term and live this Midwestern, whatever-class lifestyle. I could sort-of-maybe, whatever-it-looks-like try dating for the first time in 4 years.
… Can you see why depression would sink in?
All of these things are not where I AM. And while it’s good to have goals that you’re working toward, it’s really, really not good to negate the present and live in the future. The future is not here. (DUH!) It is not guaranteed and it can never be fully known. Living in the future means I’m never actually living because I’m missing the 24 hours that’s laid before me. These 24 hours are all I really get to work with. That’s where change happens.
So I made a change starting with Facebook. And that change snowballed. Into reading more blogs. Into writing more blogs. Into reading real books. Into cooking. Into eating incredibly well. Into getting myself to the gym about every other day. Into taking a YogaFit class by myself. Into reaching out to build deeper relationships with people. Into going to a new Pilates class with a friend for the first time. Into spending time in the parking lot talking about life. Into trying an incredibly risky hot yoga flow class together where I literally had to lay down and sleep the last half because I didn’t think I was going to make it. Into Downton Abbey Sunday nights with friends. Into lots of babysitting and investment at church. Into singing and dancing more…in my apartment and car. Into beginning to plan and help lead a team to the East Coast in a few months for Sandy Relief. Into shopping and pedicures with my Mom (which is a very big deal). Into getting enough sleep and feeling better at work.
It doesn’t mean I’m giving up on any of the above day-dreams but it means that I’m laying down MY tight grip on the future so that more can happen in the here and now… and hopefully it will better equip me for the future.
It reminds me of my freshman year of college after I broke up with a super bad-for-me boyfriend. Every day after a specific class we would talk on the phone from the end of that class, back to my dorm, and then to the start of my next class. In the turmoil and drama that is any 18 year-old break up, I remember walking back to my dorm room, standing in the doorway and realizing for the first time I had enough time before my next class to actually DO things. Like get homework done, eat a meal, rest, actually talk to my roommates. I remember the joy at discovering the free time gained from all that time I had been wasting on the phone. It feels a lot like that this time around without Facebook. If I cut out the unnecessary (and generally unhealthy) and manage my time just a little bit better… I actually have a really full life.
Making face-to-face connections with people has also had to increase. Or at least more personal connections. Friends remember my Facebook fast and sent personal text message invites to parties, which spark “How have you been?” conversations. Making a phone call and asking for help when I need it. Grabbing drinks and discussing life and ideas that interest me. More time handcuffed and being held captive in a homemade fort by 3 and 6 year olds when babysitting instead of absent-mindedly checking my phone. Investing in real relationships… the old-fashioned way.
I have a huge chunk of a continuation of this post that I’m still working on. It veers off into a slightly different topic and I was feeling like they should be two separate posts. So Here’s Part I.