This post will be slightly different than those I have written in the past, as it relates to a personal situation that I recently went through. The general theme may be a bit cynical, but please understand I mean no disrespect to anyone who enjoys social media. This post is also a bit of a ramble….
So, as the title suggests, I left Facebook…or maybe it was Facebook that subtly “nudged” me out…or maybe it was the ever increasing privacy issues that made me think otherwise. Whatever it as, I am out, and I am breathing more easy.
Isn’t it odd how the world has ‘evolved’ to include things like Facebook? It has become so normal that you can hardly buy a smartphone without a Facebook ‘app’ being preloaded on the darn thing. Everywhere I go on the internet there are Facebook ‘like’ buttons with little pictures of the masses who seem to enjoy having their picture plastered all over cyberspace. And apparently, those little pictures will make you believe that ‘this’ is a good product, because so many people ‘like’ it.
I had a conversation with someone once. The details are sketchy, but I said: “Hey I like that!”, and he said: “You should go like it on Facebook”. (Insert non impressed face here) I said: “I’m not on Facebook” (Insert his mystified, perplexed and baffled face…..HERE) The rest of the conversation is a blur. His arguments about the pro’s and my counter arguments about the con’s. The end.
FB has become so ingrained in society that people think you absolutely crazy if you don’t have a Facebook account. Type facebook without a capital ‘F’ and ‘autocorrect’ prompts you to fix your rookie mistake.
FB has then also, directly and indirectly, been responsible for the growing ‘trend’ (read ‘self obsession’) of the ‘selfie’. (a word that, by the way, was recently added to the Oxford dictionary) Enter the age of the narcissist.
So I left Facebook.
Why? Well, because it became an obsession. And because this is a Christian Blog I will add the following reason – Because it was interfering with my relationship with God and my relationship with my wife.
Here is the truth. It’s a Saturday morning and I am moving the lawn. As I do so, I accidently ‘mow’ a patch of dog poop. Instantly I am thinking of some quirky way that I can share this entire ‘episode’ with all my FB friends. So I think up a line, update my ‘status’ and post. By Monday I have 22 likes, 9 comments and 4 shares. Wow, aren’t I proud. I am positively beaming.
Here is the problem. The people that live in the same house with me, my wife and children, they don’t know about the ‘episode’. I don’t need to impress them with any funny and quirky comments about dog poop, so I don’t even mention it. This means there’s no communication with the people I spend everyday with.
Here is the reality. The people that liked and commented and shared by post don’t really care what happened to me, or for me. They are also just looking for something to share, comment on or ‘like’, because the probably don’t have anything better to do. Millions of people who use FB daily are addicted to it. Maybe not directly to the FB interface, but to the ‘feelings’ of being liked, accepted and shared by others. I know people who spend 2 – 4 hours a day on FB, and I cannot fathom how. In these people there exists no more creativity, no more passion, no more drive and no more direction. It has been sucked out of them by social media. They simply look at a computer screen and read about what is happening in other people’s lives, and they don’t live themselves.
People are saying things just for the sake of saying them. What is said is loosing its meaning, and we ‘share’ and ‘like’ electronic information. Sure FB is also used for good, I get that. But in general it has become an alternate universe, an escape, an adventure. It has become a place for people to be who they are not, and for old ‘love’ acquaintances to ‘re-connect’, even if both those acquaintances are married. Meanwhile we don’t connect with real people, the ones on the street and the ones in front of us, because everyone is looking down, and updating their FB status on a mobile device. And its become so bad that people are doing this while walking or driving.
Humans were made with a desperate need to feel accepted and loved. I believe God made us this way for a reason, so that He can fill those voids in us. FB is just another reality escape that is ‘meant’ to make us feel wanted, but leaves us feeling emptier.
What happened when I left.
No one asked , no one noticed, no one was concerned, no one called, no one sent an email, no one cared. All of my FB ‘friends’, turned out not to be friends at all.
What happened to my mind was a bit scary. Have you heard about ‘FOLO’? FOLO – FEAR OF LOSING OUT’. Yes, it is a real ‘thing’. And I had it. Whenever I would go sit outside with my coffee I would automatically pull out my mobile to ‘read’ the latest updates, or post my own: “Coffee on the porch…hmmm”. Now that I had left, I couldn’t do that. The familiar little blue icon was gone, and it left me feeling a bit lonely.
The questions started running through my mind. ‘What are people up to? What cool video’s have I missed? Who’s changed jobs? Who uploaded a nice picture, or a nice post that I was not privy to?’ – I HAD FOLO, full on. I would drive in the car, or walk in the shops and think of things to post, but then I remembered I had divorced FB. I would take a breath, and carry on. The ‘rehab’ process had begun and took about 3 weeks. It was a weird time for me. I literally had ‘status updates’ in my head all the time and was constantly looking for something to share…just to get a like.
Today I don’t even remember FB. It’s a distant memory. Something in a past lifetime. Something that I have left behind, and not going back to. It has been almost 6 months, and I am loving it. I am loving not having to constantly be bombarded with updates, notifications and bumbling idiots on skateboards in the latest ‘fail’ video.
I am LOVING experiencing something WITH someone, and keeping it all to ourselves. I am loving not feeling compelled to take a picture and having to upload any photo’s of anything to anyone, not having to try and find approval in a hundred mouse ‘like’ clicks. I am loving not getting the latest ‘news’ of a ‘friend’s’ pet turtle that did a somersault. I am loving not being in love with FB anymore.
Whatever sets itself up in your life as a priority, and in place of Jesus, is an idol. Identify the idol and remove it! You will notice if its an idol if your heart and mind keep wanting to go back to it. Leave the social media for 5 days and see what happens. I am pretty sure you will also experience a form of FOLO, and then you can let these things go and get back the time to spend with real people and with God.
God Bless You As You Seek His Face.