Thursday, March 10, 2011
A Month on a Deserted Island: Day 1.
Cutting an addict off, cold-turkey, of social networking is deadly. OK, maybe not deadly, but at the very least ridden with emotional compulsive eating. A few weeks ago I decided to give up Facebook for lent. I’m not Catholic, but I love the tradition of sacrifice preparing for the joy of the resurrection. Last year I gave up sweets and it was no big deal with exception of the lack of Cadbury Eggs in my pre-Easter diet. This year I wanted to dig deeper and choose something that affected my daily life, something big. So, I waved goodbye to Facebook almost 48 hours ago.
Day one flew by with no problem. My best friends and family have my phone numbers and email so we are keeping in contact that way. (I developed a quick resentment of email now, by the way, but hesitate to say anything too harsh as it is my sole digital communication with the world outside of this blog and recognizing I could still be waiting for a guy to show up on a horse with a handwritten letter without it.) What in the world did we do before email? I mean, really, I wrote letters to pen pals in the third grade and waited for weeks to hear from them. Weeks! Now, if my best friend in Germany needs me she pushes a button, and there I am staring at her thanks to Skype. Thank you God for computers!
The worst hit me today. I made a new friend and we had a fun lunch together watching our boys gather germs at our local McDonald's. She tells me how much she loves Facebook, and I think to myself “Yes, a new Facebook friend!” It was actually an awkward moment in the conversation, when I’m supposed to say, “Hey, I’ll be your Facebook friend!” Instead, I opted to just change the subject rather than try to explain why I would do such a ridiculous thing as to give up my digital life for a month. Hopefully, it will work out and I won’t have a friend request waiting for four weeks. She’ll probably wonder why I won’t friend her right away and decide I'm a social network snob.
Facebook is clearly a waste of time. Yesterday I did four loads of laundry, cleaned the house, and mended a Hockey Jersey for my husband, a housework feat previously unrivaled in our home. However, I missed my friends, and I am not too proud to tell you I missed reading status updates. Wow, I feel like a loser now.
Facebook cannot nor ever will make you a better person, but I believe that for folks like me who have moved all over God’s creation, it is a huge blessing. For friends who are separated by oceans, it is God-send. I am thankful for it, and yesterday I was reminded of how I am not an island. I need people, even if just digitally. Clearly, previously established relationships make social networking more fruitful in my life. I don’t believe purely digital relationships are healthy or even 100% genuine, but for maintaining, and I would say even building on established relationships, Facebook works.
I believe God made us this way, to have real connections. We need each other, but we need more than status updates. Having lunch and laughing with a friend warms and feeds the soul so much more than checking in on profile picture changes or reading 500 fairly impersonal birthday wishes. Birthdays are much more fun when you share cake with friends.
I don’t believe the digital world will ever conquer the real world and I am so thankful to live in and have access to both. The relationships I have with my Tuesday Ladies Bible Class are so sweet and you just can't replace those kinds of relationships with well-written blogs or funny viral Youtube videos. It is so much more fun to hear laughter and to feel hugs rather than just accumulate fake pokes and useless garden apps. Today I was reminded that yes, I love my Facebook account, but if given the choice I will choose a greasy burger lunch date every time because words on a screen never actually replace the people who type them.