Off Facebook

November 2, 2017

It was a year ago this week that I realized that Facebook wasn’t for me any more.

As the week of Thanksgiving drew nigh, it just seemed like a good time to take a break. I was stuck in the bed, recovering from surgery, and I had a host of books to read. My original thought went something like this: If I just get off of Facebook for a few days, I’ll read more. I’ve nearly always regretted spending the time on Facebook that I had instead of reading the numerous books on my shelf. I also thought: It’s only Thanksgiving week, that has a natural start and stop to it. That’s more than reasonable.

And so it was.

What I discovered was that quitting Facebook took virtually nothing from me. That is to say that I didn’t miss it. I wound up reading 5 books during my surgery recovery. Were all of them deep theological tomes that heralded brand new squiggle lines across my brain? No. A couple of the books were pop fiction. Did I enjoy myself more and find myself more satisfied than if I had been browsing Facebook the whole time? Yes.

What I realized is that Facebook just wasn’t that fun to me any more. What had been a place to say funny things and post funny pictures had turned into a place to post unfunny, meaningless drivel and harp about “fake news,” who hates who in America, and how this one commentator on this one show totally shut down that other commentator on that other show. In short, it was also unfunny, meaningless drivel.

I thought to myself, even so, you still keep in touch with a few people here. You’re going to need Facebook for that. After all, what if you do wind up in New York City and want to see so-and-so? First, what I learned really quickly was that the list of people I truly wanted to keep in touch with was pretty short, much shorter than I thought. Secondly, I learned that those who wanted to reciprocate were pretty willing to exchange phone numbers. When I messaged a few friends my contact info, I actually reconnected with a high school friend, and now we text off and on. We communicate. About things. It’s exhilarating, really.

Not long after, I just shut my Facebook down entirely. That’s been a while ago, and I haven’t missed it. This isn’t one of those things where I’m saying, “Well now, I don’t miss that because look at all this awfulness!” where, I’m also in the back of my head saying, “…but it was so fun.” Usually, we do that with our favorite sins. We break it off publicly, and then go back and pull up our favorite sin’s photo, and stare at with a longing that rivals Odysseus’s quest for Penelope and Ithaca.

No so with my relationship with Facebook. I don’t think being on Facebook is a sin, not in itself. My wife is still on there, and I’ve felt no burning of the Holy Spirit to go and turn her away from an error to cover a multitude of sins. The closure of my relationship with Facebook is more like a dissipating headache. You don’t really realize the moment the headache is gone, and you don’t miss it either. I haven’t thought about it, nor do I wonder what’s going on.

It used to be fun; I used to really enjoy it. I just don’t any more. So the reason I’m saying all this is to pose this question: do you even enjoy Facebook any more? Would you miss it if you stopped? Maybe you’re saying, “Yes indeed, sir. I would miss it as a gentleman misses his lady.” Very well, many happy returns. However, could it be that you wouldn’t? Could it be that you’re merely distracted? Could it be that Facebook is just a digital bag of potato chips that you’re mindlessly consuming without even noticing the taste any more?

I began divorce proceedings with Facebook a year ago, and I haven’t missed it. And I haven’t missed out. My friends are still my friends. To reveal the flip side of the coin, this hasn’t meant that I’ve won the battle with compulsively checking my phone either. That’s still in process. We live in a digital polygamous marriage, and it’s going tot take more than just getting Facebook under control to have only one love.

Quitting Facebook is not synonymous with holiness. It doesn’t make me special. It’s not even a “go and do likewise” sort of thing. However, for me, it has been a door shut to waste time and temptation. Picking over the empty content of my Facebook feed was as productive in my life as going into a pile of gravel and separating the light gray pieces from the dark gray pieces. Objectively, something was going on, but did it mean anything? Furthermore, what did it say about me as a Christian man when someone was on the other side of the lot shrieking about how all pieces of light gray gravel are going to set our country back 100 years? Is that really a person worth addressing? I think time away has helped me realize if that individual fell into the category of Proverbs 26:4 or Proverbs 26:5. Also, why am I still thinking about gravel?

Facebook helped me realize just how unChristlike I can be both in my dawdling idleness and in my willingness to get mad about something I don’t actually care about. I’m not going to challenge any one to do anything like I did, but I would invite you to consider your own satisfaction and discern for yourself if Facebook helps you find that or not.

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