What happened when I deleted Facebook

If you have been around for a while, or ever seen my YouTube videos, you know I deleted Facebook about 8 or so months ago. I had my various reasons why; some that had to do with my overall well-being. Regardless of those reasons, stepping away from the ever-popular app has had benefits, and has been eye-opening.

First, I am going to take a queue from Paul here and mention, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23. You may have no problem with Facebook. You may be able to scroll and it not affect you. Let me just say-it was not beneficial for me.

Here are the various things that have been good for me. Things I learned and have gained since my Facebook exit:

I didn’t miss the 100 or more obligatory Happy Birthday posts.

No, I really didn’t. I had maybe 10 instead. All sent to the place where meaningful connections usually take place. To my actual phone number. I didn’t miss the birthday wishes that only came because an app reminded someone to do it. Instead, I enjoyed those from the people who actually remember my born day (Shout out to those who do!). Called. Sent meaningful, heartfelt wishes, and I love you’s. Simply because they know. They may need a calendar to tell them it’s my special day. But they don’t need a social media notification to do so.

I began to engage in meaningful conversation.

Think about it. How many of your conversations center around what you saw or read on Facebook. I’ll admit for a while I had a little bit of FOMO. “I didn’t see it, you know…deleted Facebook.” Thought I was missing the latest and greatest. But after a while, I noticed I engaged less with those who spent all their time trolling, and commenting on social media concerns, and more time having real-time, face-to-face conversations with people. Learned more about them, and who they were beyond their latest post.

I turned off the “noise.”

And for a while even the news. No, I didn’t bury my head in the sand, and pretend the world wasn’t still spinning in utter chaos…I just chose to engage in reputable sources. Those without comments from people arguing back and forth. I read and formed my own opinion, without all the “noise” in the comments section; or from the news feed convincing me how I should think.

I turned off the “noise” in my own head.

As I mentioned in my video about my decision, Facebook left me anxious. It provided me with a very negative mindset. It also allowed me to judge people in ways they may not be, simply because they posted or “liked” something. It left me in a constant state of comparison to others “highlights,” and left me feeling like my life was empty and meaningless. I questioned motives. I questioned intentions. It was bad for my headspace. For me. That’s my personal experience. Yours could be very different.

I learned who was really down. Who would reach farther than the social media messenger function.

Look…I’m just being real. I’ve had the same phone number for 16 plus years. It’s been inactive only when I’ve been out of the country, which was no more than 14 days in those last 16 years. Social media is not my only connection to the outside world. I have unlimited texts and phone calls, and I can count on my two hands how many have used this method to still keep in touch. Those would be the “loyal” circle. If social media kept you in the “circle,” and now you have cut that“circle” off…my dear, I’m fine with a smaller one. Harsh? Possibly, but it’s the straight up truth. Connections with people should go much deeper than a random Facebook comment, or “thumbs-up” here and there.

I realized…lives are not often a true reflection of what is posted.

Don’t let social media fool you. Since I have had more time to really talk outside of apps, I have learned that marriages that look the happiest aren’t. That the people that look their “best,” are struggling with their self-esteem. That the houses that look the “cleanest,” have dirty corners no one dares mention. The family on that dream vacation has been at each other’s throat the entire time. No one shares these moments. What you are seeing on Facebook is highly curated posts and updates only highlighting what is good. Stop comparing yourself to what in most cases is a false representation of the people behind the “happy” smiles. There is truth to that often referenced quote: “People are not always what they post to be.”

I had more time to do things I had put off for so long.

Without the desire to check on likes, statuses, messages, and post every single moment, I created space to update my “read” list (books that is). Write AND publish a devotional instead of a Facebook worthy post. Study for an exam I had to put off. Focus on my mental health. Actually enjoy family dinner without phones. I had time to declutter. Time with friends. Time with God first thing in the morning, and not my news feed. And none of this newfound time and connection involved scrolling through endless media chatter.

I found solace in a more private life.

A media hacking may have forced me into the need for privacy, but I found that when I shut off the app, my desire to post every single detail about my life also shut down. I still share. But my kids are no longer the subject. My grandchildren are for me (and their parents) to enjoy and raise. My private moments, are well…private. I now blog my deeper thoughts. Journal. Or just say nothing, and I realize that the more people know about you; know what you are doing, where you are going, who you are with, what cause you are supporting, what moves you are making; the more they can use against you. When I stopped posting every little thing, I learned to move and accomplish things with the support of my biggest (physically present) cheerleaders, and not the constant peering of a social media “crowd.”

I don’t even miss it!

Look. I get it. It’s hard to pull the plug. You want to keep your distant relatives posted with cute pics of your kids. You want to see what your “friends” from high school are up to. But could a photo sharing app accomplish the first? Could a birthday phone call do the trick? And about that high school acquaintance…well, is there a reason they need to keep up with you? Or are you secretly hoping your life looks better than theirs? Or even better than it did in high school?

What now?

Personally, I don’t miss it. One single bit. Really. Why? Because my life was full of negativity and uncertainty with it. Most especially my worth. Now? Well, my life is just full. And I don’t have to tell all my 500 plus “friends” it is so.

Not ready to pull the plug completely yet? Try it for a month. Then tell me if your experience is anything like mine. I’d love to hear all about it…just not on Facebook, of course (see the Get Social Page for alternatives).

He Wants to Be Your “Friend”

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will give you all you need.” Matthew 6:33

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A few months ago, I wrote about the phone addiction I witnessed while in line at Starbucks. At that time I disconnected from the constant need to keep scrolling through endless updates, and navigate my day with my nose buried in my mobile device.

And, I was doing pretty good. I had finally resisted the urge to spew every one of my wayward thoughts on-line for all my “friends” to see. I was pretty sure that my hiatus from constant status updates, email checks, and tweets had its impact. I now had the strength and willpower to let all the negativity that clogged my newsfeed go. I had learned to run to God with my problems instead of Facebook.

I think it’s OK to download again, I said.

I can limit myself, I said.

I can make sure the negative things I see don’t affect me. I am sure they won’t alter the way I see and love people, I said.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

The realization that I was once again turning to all my “friends” again wasn’t in any way earth shattering. It all began with what almost became a simple “I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I’m all alone” status.

Until that voice said to me: “January, what are you doing? Do you really want to go there again? I’m here. Talk to me.”

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12

If I call on my greatest friend, he will listen. But, I had stopped calling on Him lately. Instead, I was relying on every “like,” and comment of agreement to confirm that I wasn’t alone. That someone else was listening. However, with every comment, I realized…I was still alone. There are still some things all my “friends” just couldn’t possibly understand.

The truth is, I wish I could say I only had that one moment of Facebook weakness, but that’s not the case.

See, I had quickly gone back to the mindless scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh throughout my day just as quickly as I had deleted the whole mess in the first place. Until I had spent more time on the couch scrolling and refreshing than playing and engaging with my kids.

Until I began the frequent eye-rolling at posts that quickly turned to judgment and condemnation. The judgment and condemnation which is so unlike the example I am supposed to be of Christ.

Until my days were filled with gruesome, negative, and cruel news stories again, and nothing at all to lift my spirits.

Until I once again began my morning reading Facebook posts, and not my Bible.

Until I started telling all my “friends” about my problems, and not once talking to God.

I had done it again.

I certainly wasn’t practicing what I had preached months ago.

And, I had once again sunk into a wave of negativity, judgment, and whoa-is-meing that was not at all becoming.

Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. Proverbs 4:15

This is not to say that Facebook is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs. There are some inspiring posts and stories out there. Friends I follow just for this reason. I have family, former co-workers, and high school classmates that I enjoy catching up with, and then other “friends” whose witty posts give me a much needed laugh. And, who can enjoy a football game without a little friendly rivalry?

But, honestly…for me? The constant scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh is a trigger for me. A trigger for my insecurities. A trigger for my past to come back to haunt me. A trigger for my often critical view of the world and people, and one more reason for me to say that I don’t have time for God.

One more reason for me to think I am all alone. That all my “friends” don’t care, don’t understand, don’t get what I go through day in and day out, don’t….whatever. When really the friends that do care, are saved in my phone contact list. The ones whose emails, kids’ names, addresses, and hidden insecurities I actually do know. The ones who I can actually call, say “I miss you. I need you right now. I feel alone and I’m having a crummy day,” and know they will come running to first sulk with me, and then tell me to suck it up, because we all have those days.

And, then there is that other “friend.” The one who has no Facebook or Twitter account, yet knows exactly when I’m alone and need support-whether its 11 at night or at 4 in the morning. The friend I have in Him. The comfort and peace I can find in Him to which no scrolling and refreshing, or hundreds and hundreds of social media “friends” could ever compare.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.