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.

7 comments:

  1. I like going on Facebook and playing the games more than anything, but I like knowing that I can reach my missionary friends in Africa and Corsica and India if I want to. It would be hard to give it up now that I have had it for so long. You are far braver than I am.

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  2. Great post, I agree 100%!
    - Friend-in-Germany

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  3. Caryn, After hearing about you giving up FB I was mad at myself for not being able to last week. I tried for four days in a row as a way to have more time with my family. I failed after 24 hours! Today in my exercise class, my instructor told me that she gave up FB for lent. NOW I am motivated by the two of you to give it up even just for a week.

    I am not Catholic either and I do not follow lent. I do like your reasoning behind it though. Good luck with this withdraw ;) Thanks to you and my other friend, I am thinking about trying it again. There are so many more things I could be doing with my time.

    Oh, I also DID walk away from it for awhile after little H was born last year for the same reasons. THe only reason I came back to it was to share pictures. Since then, I think I have become just a little addicted.

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  4. Thank you, friends.

    I'm wondering how you are doing Jessica? Did you give it up?

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  5. I am enjoying reading your reflections about your "Facebook Fast." I, too, am so thankful for Facebook and the way it connects me to my friends all over the world. But it is truly easy to just waste time on it, and I don't even play any of the silly games, I just use it as a way to keep in touch with people! I'm impressed that you've lasted this long... if I had tried it, I would have definitely succumed on March 11th when the Japan earthquake hit, just as a way to find out if our friends there were alright! Way to go, Caryn!!!

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  6. Laura- The most interesting thing regarding this particular "fast" is that I've gone back to actually watching the news, rather than gather info from my facebook news feed. After the earthquake I really missed my friend's commentaries on the news. I hope your friends are safe wherever they are!!!

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