Letters of Life

Giving Up Facebook for Lent 2012: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself (Plus 3 Myths & 3 Truths)

Lots of people want to abstain from the social networks. I’ve done it two years running, officially during the Lenten season, and declared another 40 days off Facebook late last year. Some friends are wanting to attempt giving up Facebook this year, and this has got me thinking of some pitfalls or obstacles they might come up against.

Here are some questions you might want to think about when you decide to give up Facebook.

Three questions to ask yourself:

1. Are you giving up just Facebook? What about networking sites like Twitter, Instagram, or Path? Don’t give yourself loopholes. If you do, think about who you are actually giving up Facebook for. Is it for Someone Else?

Really?

2. Who is your support team? You need at least one accountability partner, because you will suffer relapses unless you take drastic measures like deleting the app off your smartphone, installing timers on your desktop, and setting limits to how much time you sit at your desk.

3. Did you decide to give up social networking because you are trying to wean yourself off the distracting entertainment value that Facebook offers? Or is it your means to finding out what some people are doing? Is this a matter of the heart? What, oh what, are you walking away from?

Three Truths About Your Challenge

1. You will get less validation in your “life.”

Into my first weeks of going cold turkey, I had withdrawal symptoms. Not from the absence of Facebook in my real life (for the virtual intrudes on the real more often than you realize), but from the lack of validation all those Likes and Comments gave me ever so often.

Post an insipid picture of deep fried chicken wings and you get instant validation. Mulitply that by the number of times you post updates multiplied by the number of times you check into Facebook and you realize how many strokes to your ego you get every 24 hours every day.

2. You will feel a deafening silence. Those conversations you had on the social networks? They’re silenced now, because you locked yourself out, and there will be days you feel you’ve cut off a main line of communication.

[Interestingly, ‘mainline’ is slang for injecting a drug like heroin into a prominent vein. In more than one way, getting off Facebook can feel like you’re not mainlining any more. If this happens, admit to yourself you’re a Facebook addict. Then move on.]

3. If you tell yourself you want to keep up with the quotidian updates of a particular person, ask yourself why. And be honest. After answering the first ‘why’, ask yourself again ‘why.’ Then, ask it again. Why?

Three Myths You Should Know

1. You will feel you’ve been left out in the cold.

There’s a party going on—a place where lively conversation never sleeps, where funny or provocative videos take centre stage, where good friends post pictures of their wonderful lives and the delicious food they’re eating all the time—to which you’re no longer invited for the next 40 days and nights and deathly-long hours in between.

Excuse me if I sound like a fire-and-brimstone preacher, but this is a lie of the devil. There is no party. I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll say it again: Facebook is a falsely-jolly platform designed to bring out the green-eyed monster in us.

2. That you don’t know what’s going on in the lives of your friends, especially those across oceans. This too, is a lie of the devil. I’ve had more encouraging, in-depth conversations with friends near and far through instant messaging because these friends bothered to ping when they had some free time.

Real friends are actually interested in not so much how you feel, but what you are thinking. They tend to also tell you how they feel about what you are thinking.

3. You will feel you’re losing out on a lot of information being passed around on the networks.

Information, schminformation. (That’s a mouthful!) The truth is, information isn’t worth anything until it is processed (by you) and turns into understanding. Let me say that there is a lot of information floating around out there, like the gazillion dust motes in a shaft of light, but very little of it is of great value. Everytime I log on to Facebook, I’m actually jumping into a pond (I have 63 friends) of trivia. If you have 1,000 friends, be thankful. You have an ocean with your very own name.

The Bottomline

Go for it, friends and readers. Go off Facebook if that’s what you decide. Because at the end of 40 days and nights and all the hours in between, you will realize many many things about yourself (which you should reflect and write about so you don’t lose it).

When you realize these things, *do* something about your discoveries. Otherwise, all the lures and enticements of Facebook will come roaring back and devour your time, your thoughts, and your hardwon truths about yourself which is one of the rewards of going through Lent.

Lent is a time of surrender. Facebook, for all its redeeming social qualities, has a narcissistic side to it that the ego will find hard to give up. Rediscover the joy of keeping your times and your thoughts private, for God knows what you are thinking, and best of all, He knows exactly what you need.

And in everything, give thanks.

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3 Responses »

  1. excellent post, yu ming; it’s all about feeding our egos, isn’t it? it takes some very sharp personal insight, i think, to realize that. love, lauren

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